As we have seen over the past few months, wealth can be defined in many ways. Unfortunately, if we are not consciously grappling with what wealth means for ourselves, most of us take the path of least resistance and define wealth on the basis of how much money someone has.
- A billionaire is wealthy.
- A trust fund kid’s parents are wealthy.
- Bill Gates and Warren Buffett are wealthy.
- Our neighbor with the shiny new BMW must be wealthy.
And we are generally correct from the standpoint of money or assets. Except when we are fooled by appearances.
People can look wealthy and actually be quite poor (the BMW is leased and the payments are so high that he or she is living in an apartment with no furniture and eating rice and beans or tuna from a can), while others may appear to be poor or just average, and actually be quite wealthy (your neighbor who owns a landscape company and always buys used cars and lives in a modest but nice home might be sitting on a nest egg that would blow your mind).
Most of us want to be wealthy, which is not a bad thing to want, but we tend to focus only on the financial aspect, so much so that we often try to “fake it ’til we make it,” or sacrifice other areas of wealth in the pursuit of this one.
How else can we define wealth?
Would you consider the Dali Lama to be wealthy? In a spiritual sense I would think him extraordinarily wealthy. He is also much happier than many who are financially wealthy. Our spiritual wealth is just as important as our financial wealth.
What about relationships? Strong bonds between friends and partners are worth more than gold, and as Proverbs says, the right spouse or partner is more valuable than rubies. Like financial wealth, relationships take work and are built over time. They can also be lost in an instant when we make poor choices. Sadly we tend to discount the true wealth of our relationships as we pursue the incomplete image we have of wealth.
Are you taking care of yourself, your body? Are you making healthy choices for yourself regardless of your actual state of health? Someone fighting to survive a long term health issue might see someone who is poor but in great health, as wealthy, or they might actually consider themselves more wealthy because of the challenges they have had to overcome. It may come down to a matter of perspective – what is yours?
Discover your Definition of Wealth
What is your definition of wealth for your life? Is it out of balance? Are you pursuing financial wealth at the cost of your relationships, spirituality, or health? How do you know?
The first thing to do is to face it head on and ask yourself what wealth means to you. What wealth looks like in your mind, what wealth feels like in your heart.
You can do this on your own, but if you have a spouse or partner, I highly recommend you also do it together – you might be surprised how different your ideas of wealth are. The trick is then to define what wealth means to you as a couple or partnership.
It is also helpful to have someone prompting you with questions and providing feedback to really get at the heart of your definition. A coach perhaps. Contact me below if you are interested in discovering your definition of wealth.