THE BLOG
11/28/2011 11:10 am ET Updated Jan 28, 2012

Please Meditate: Gratitude of Billionaires

I've had the unique opportunity to meet and work with a large number of billionaires, moguls and celebrities. I first encountered celebrities when I was working as an actress in my youth: While working on the film "Titanic," my first acting gig while in college at the University of Southern California, I was astounded to realize that superstars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet were, in fact, just normal human beings going though life like anyone else. Oddly, I'd thought they would be taller, perfectly happy in every way and dwell in some kind of fantastic emotional nirvana. Why did I think that? Did I read too many magazines? I was a little disappointed, but then relieved to experience that they're just talented, hard-working normal people. Later, as I worked with other celebrities in various films, this realization was solidified time and again by the normal human lives of many people that we seem to idolize in our culture.

Now, in the field of relaxation, yoga and meditation, I have had a similar experience when working with or meeting business moguls and billionaires: No matter how much money, fame or power one has, the human inner life remains pretty much the same.

Why did I ever think money, fame or power were part of the happiness equation? It seems to be a myth many people buy into. When I mention to a friend that more money will not solve every problem or bring them unwavering happiness, the reply I usually get is a pretty tough, "Try me."

Can this myth be dispelled? It was cleared up for me, but I had to see it to believe it. I guess it's easy to think that the answer to life's endless yearning for happiness and peace can be found in material gain and status. Perhaps it's too challenging to realize that for true happiness, you have to look to yourself, no matter where you find yourself on the wheel of life: going up, going down, at the top or at the bottom.

I admit I was initially astounded to witness with my own eyes that money, in fact, cannot buy happiness, friends or harmonious relationships. What do humans realize once they have achieved high levels of wealth, fame and power? Yes, it's true that money can buy a nice house (or houses). Yes, it's true that you can have lots of clothes and computers and stuff. An emotional high that comes from the acquisition of things only lasts a little while. And then what?

The deepest joys and pains come from the family life, personal relationships, the relationship with ones' self and personal integrity. I can say honestly and with authority that across the board, the greatest thing about achieving every goal is not found in the goals themselves, but in realizing that what is really deeply important cannot be seen with the eyes (or purchased with a fat wad of cash), but only felt with the heart, as Helen Keller wisely wrote. Um, she didn't include the fat wad of cash bit -- that's my own. Jim Carrey has been quoted as saying, "I wish everyone could get rich and famous and everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that's not the answer."

I am not discouraging anyone from following their aspirations, whatever they may be. But I do want to encourage you to find happiness right where you are, right now. Because if you can't find it now, you are not likely to find it around the corner when you've achieved, acquired, married or anything else you might need to do in the future. In fact, sometimes fame and fortune can inflate problems that already exist within you. For example, if you have the tendency to overspend, even though you have very little, it's likely your tendency will not only persist, but will swell, when you have a great deal, as anyone can see in the wealthy celebrities (like Nicolas Cage, among others) who go on spending sprees and sometimes lose it all.

Learn to be happy now, and you will possess the ability to be happy no matter what your station in life might be, whether you find yourself a billionaire mogul or struggling student.

If you've ever fantasized about being one of the richest people on the planet, you can be: by treasuring the greatest jewels of life, available to everyone who can see them, and cultivate them.

What might you have in common with an UNhappy billionaire? Thinking that "getting more" of anything will finally make you happy.

What might you have in common with a happy billionaire? Gratitude for a harmonious home, gratitude for family, gratitude for good health, gratitude for friends, gratitude for a life of integrity, gratitude for safety, gratitude for peace of mind, gratitude for the perfection of nature: more precious than gems.

There are many ways to practice gratitude: Try them all, and find one that works for you.