When you think of wealth it’s natural to think of money.
We associate with wealth with money so much, that the connection is so natural we make it without even thinking.
This is even truer in modern times where we are flooded with photos of the rich and famous on Instagram and their lives are plastered across our TV screens on reality TV shows.
The accumulation of money has become the be-all and end-all in society. We are encouraged to work longer hours to earn more money and to be ruthless in our pursuit of it.
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to have more money, it’s hard to live without it, after all, money is just one aspect of wealth. There are many different ways we can measure and it doesn’t just revolve around money.
You can be wealthy in regards to your knowledge. Arguably a wealth of knowledge is more valuable than a large sum of money in your bank account.
There is also the wealth that comes from being content with your life. We live in a consumer age, where we are encouraged to pay the latest and shiniest gadgets. However, these items do not make us wealthy.
In fact, the opposite is true. If you can survive without much, then you will be much more content than the person who tries to fill their life with items that have little value or meaning.
Money, Money, Money
The traditional paradigm of looking at wealth is how much money someone has. The more money they have, the wealthier we consider them. We are only looking at one side of the story, we are not seeing the full story when we do this.
Wealth has many different aspects that we need to consider. You may have all the money in the world, but if you have no meaningful relationships are you truly wealthy?
I’m sure a lot of people would trade money if it meant they could be in a loving relationship for the majority of their life. I’m sure most of us would agree that you cannot put a price on the relationships you have with those closest to you.
We often consider those with little or no money to be poor, but even then, we could be looking at things the wrong way. It was the Roman philosopher Seneca, who said the following:
“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor.”
Two thousand years ago, the Stoic philosopher had the right idea when it came to wealth. It appears that we misplaced this piece of advice somewhere along the way.
Monetary wealth brings all sorts of problems with it. The more money you have, the more you want to keep hold of it. While when you have exorbitant amounts of money, the pool of people that you can socialise with shrinks.
There’s a reason you don’t see the ultra-rich fraternising with the very poor. we tend to associate with others that are on the same societal level as us. Therefore, the further towards the 1% you progress, the more people you’re leaving behind on the way there.
However, poor people can still be wealthy. I remember visiting the Philippines and coming across numerous people who had little money, but their lives were full of joy. They were always happy, always laughing and had a close circle of friends.
For all the money and opportunity that I had, they had a minimal amount, but they were happy nonetheless. It was an eye-opening experience and one that taught me that you can still be wealthy even when you own very little.
Wealth is a multi-layered construct, we should just frame it in regards to money. There are many brands which purport to be the brands of the wealthy. Think of Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel, there are many people who aspire to own clothes or items by these brands.
However, the irony is that the truly wealthy people do not buy from these brands. I have never seen the Queen of England with a Louis Vuitton handbag, nor was Steve Jobs ever caught in Gucci branded shirts.
These brands have come to be synonymous with status and wealth when the people that actually have status and wealth don’t even wear these brands. It’s a fool’s game to chase wealth and status in this regard.
We are wired to carve more and better things, but we need to take a step back and remember what we have right now. Possessions are all well and good, but we can’t take them with us when we die. Many of them do not actually make our lives better. We often end up being owned by your possessions rather than us owning them.
Wealth comes in many different forms, the sooner we realise this the better. You may have little money, but if you have a loving family around you, then you are truly wealthy. If you are content with what you’ve got and desire little, then you are truly wealthy.
The richest among us are often not those with the biggest bank balance. they are often the people who have the biggest hearts, the best relationships and little need for other forms of gratification.
Money can make life easier, but if you let it, it can take over your life and make you are a poorer person than one who has little.