I was asked recently by a friend, the hypothetical question - if I had to choose between wealth and happiness - what would my choice be? My friend was attempting to lift the gloom and raise my spirits and no doubt expected an instant reply that could be used to argue in favour of my present situation. As you know, I am presently undergoing a difficult transitional phase of adjustment to life in London.
After much deliberation, this is how I reached a conclusion.
The time in my life when I had the most disposable income was just after I sold my house in London, back in early 2007. The time of preparing a planned family move to Madeira. Those were stressful times and full of uncertainty and disagreement that led to the eventual breakdown of my marriage.
Although it was a time of affluence, when I could buy all I needed and a lot of what I didn't need, I remember mostly being unhappy, uncertain and unfulfilled. It was clearly a time of wealth without happiness.
Not something I want to experience again.
In contrast, the happiest moments in my life were in the last 18 months, when, as a single man living in Madeira, I lived a life full of music, constant socialising and making new friends. The money was just enough. A case of having everything I needed but not necessarily everything I wanted.
Something I long to experience again.
As Mick Jagger once said "you can't always get what you want...you get what you need" defines perfectly my experience in Madeira.
The obvious conclusion is I want happiness, with or without wealth. But should the two ever combine, which I hope they do, I can't imagine ever asking for anything more.