He’s the billionaire business magnate with a seemingly perfect home and professional life.
And while many would have assumed wealth and a feeling of wellness sit in the same sentence for Virgin Group founder, his latest blog post surprisingly runs with the adage ‘money doesn’t actually equal happiness'.
In the post Happiness doesn’t come from stuff (opens in new tab) the 69-year-old – whose net worth is estimated to be around $4 billion – begins, ‘I truly believe that ‘stuff’ really does not bring happiness. Family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters.’
He goes on to say that he ‘never set out to make money’ when it came to his vision for Virgin, but instead focused on creating things that the company could ‘proud of and to try to make a difference'.
He also revealed the challenging moments in his life that really drove home the fact that people’s possessions shouldn’t be the thing that defines them, as they can disappear at any moment.
‘Fortunately, early on in my life I realised that personal ’stuff’ really didn’t matter. Joan and I lived on a houseboat and one day it sank. We realised that we missed nothing except our treasured photo albums,’ he wrote.
Before adding, ‘Later our then-home in London caught fire, destroying everything inside. In 2011, our home in the British Virgin Islands was completely gutted as a result of a lightning strike. Times like these really remind you what is truly important in life: family, friends, good health and the satisfaction that comes from making a positive difference are what really matters.’
The post – which appeared on one of Branson’s recent Tweets, clocking up more than 7,000 comments – received a host of mixed reactions with some questioning the investor and philanthropist’s sincerity, especially given the fact he is one of the UK’s richest men, and makes no secret of the fact that he enjoys luxuries such as spending time on Necker Island – the paradise island he owns the Maldives (opens in new tab).
One wrote: ‘The reality is that money buys you FREEDOM - from the prison of debt, from having to worry that the next car repair will send you under, from being stuck in a situation because you cannot afford to move...Those with plenty of money do not have the same pressures. They have choice.’
While another added, ‘okay if you really feel this way give away your money to people who really need it. There are people starving all over the world, people who can’t afford their insulin, and millions without homes. Don’t just talk the talk, walk the walk.’
A third continued, ‘Easy for Branson to say ‘stuff’ doesn’t bring happiness. He is in the fortunate position of having lots of ‘stuff’. Th [sic] vast majority do not. I’m sure they would like the opportunity of testing his theory.’
MORE:THIS is the age we reach peak happiness (opens in new tab)
However, there were some who were prepared to take his post in the spirit to which it was seemingly intended, with a number of positive comments directly below the post.
One wrote, ‘I appreciate these honest words. This is what I feel as well. There is no amount of money in the world that could replace real love and good relationships. I also believe that the more we feel rich inside, the more it shows as external success. You wanted to create something that benefits this planet and the people - this is one of the noblest ideas!’
While another simply added, ‘Yeah! I am a Nurse and a Granny......couldn’t agree more......even living and working in a small scale setting I try to follow the idea that we can all make a difference .......being real and positive at the same time..thats why I like Richard Branson’s words!’
Miriam worked for woman&home for over five years and previously worked on the women's lifestyle magazines Woman and Woman's Own.
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