November 25, 2011

The Low Life of High Rollers

The average salary for a yoga teacher is $45,000, so I was a bit surprised recently when a normally crunchy yoga teacher friend took me out for a night on the town.

We had a great steak dinner at The Strip House including 16 oz New York Strip, a spectacular bottle of Cabernet, a Grand Chocolate Profiterole, and a ridiculously savory glass of port.

I caught a glimpse of the $572 bill and couldn’t help but ask, “Things are going well?”

“Better believe it.”

“Did you get a sponsorship?” I inquired.


“Doing a teacher training?” I continued my line of questioning. Teacher trainings can spell beaucoup bucks for certain yoga teachers.

“Nah, can’t deal with teacher training. Excuse me waiter, can I get one more glass of this Fonseca?”

“Something great is going on in your life…” I pushed a little more.

“I got a $1000 tip from the Janey Ettenberg,” he said, as if he won the lottery.

Janey Ettenberg is known in NYC’s Upper East side for being a big tipper if she receives just the right adjustments during her private lessons.

Legend had it that one yoga teacher received $5,000 for giving her a Savasana Shiver, and another received $2,500 for giving her a Hanuman Helper, and yet another received $3,200 for a Cobbler’s Cuddle.

“Why are you spending that money on me? Why don’t you save it? And what the hell did you do to get $1000?” I yelped.

“Can’t you just live in the f-cking moment?!” he said, putting me in my place.


Considering the fact that the above yoga teacher lives paycheck to paycheck and often borrows money from friends and family, it was somewhat surprising that he blew it all so fast.

Whether $1,000 or $315,000,000, human beings facing a sudden windfall (relatively speaking) struggle to make intelligence decisions.

Take Jack Whittaker Jr, who on December 25, 2002 won $315 million in the Powerball lottery. At the time, Whittaker was successful, president of a construction company, a well-rounded family man.

But upon becoming stupendously wealthy, the following took place:

-He was arrested twice, once for drunk driving and once for threatening a bar manager.

-A woman sued him after he groped her at a dog racetrack.

-Thieves took $545,000 in cash from Whittaker’s car while he was visiting a strip club.

-Caesars Atlantic City sued him for bouncing $1.5 million in checks.

-His wife divorced him.

-In 2003, Whittaker’s granddaughter’s boyfriend was found dead of an overdose inside Whittaker’s home.

-His 17-year-old granddaughter, whom he had been giving a $2,100 weekly allowance, fatally overdosed months later, at a different location.

-His daughter—mother of the dead granddaughter—died in 2010 this year of as-yet-undetermined causes.

Said Whitaker, now with no family and no fortune, “I wish I’d torn that ticket up.”

It’s not just Whitaker, but consider Callie Rogers who won $3 million and now works as a maid to pay off debt. Or Evelyn Adams, who won the lottery twice, TWICE, in 1985 and 1986 for a total of $5.4 million, and now lives in a trailer.


The list of piss broke lottery winners consumes page after page and link after link on Google.


According to a BBC article, excessive wealth, particularly for people unaccustomed to it, can actually cause unhappiness.

There is a quote I often use in my yoga workshops, “Your life should fit snug over your soul.”

Think of it this way: sleeping with a bunch of excess clothes, itchy blankets, and varied trinkets scattered across your bed makes for an uncomfortable slumber.

The same goes for the soul’s journey on earth. It doesn’t want to lug a bunch of crap around in its quest for fulfillment.

Extravagantly wealthy people might have it easier, but the science shows again and again happiness does not come from ease but from coziness and its cousins “autonomy, competence in what you do, a sense of closeness with others, and self-esteem, all of which bring a well rounded state.” *


As you head into this weekend, take on the following challenge. It will be the true test to see if you are engaged and cozy in life. This challenge is difficult, and recommended by relationship expert Harville Hendrix as a miracle healer.

Deep breath. Are you ready?

Give someone a 1 minute hug. That’s 60 long seconds. That requires time. And according to the great philosophers, “Being rich is a measurement of how much money you have. But being wealthy is a measurement of how much time you have.”

Or otherwise stated by the abovementioned yogi, “Live in the f-cking moment!”

Join me in 2012 on a mission to Take Back Your Life one beautiful, funny, and delicious moment at a time: LIVIN THE MOMENT 2012


David Romanelli

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