My Definition Of Wealth (Even When You’re Broke)
The sun was shining really pretty thru the panels of my greenhouse yesterday. And as I sat there, my mind started to race and strong feelings came over me. Feelings of deep gratitude and of wealth. This tiny greenhouse of mine is not bigger than 80 square feet and I picked it up used from some people in nearby city. Last Winter I grew some lettuce and green onions in it. As much as I had hoped for a Winter crop again this year, the only thing growing this year is my one English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) plant that’s in a pot from this Summer. On this particular day I broke some partially dried lavender blooms off my plant and started crushing them in between my hands. As the flowers broke up, an amazing aroma filled my warm greenhouse. Anyone who has smelled fresh lavender knows that the scent of lavender is very calming and relaxing. As I sat there doing this over and over again, crushing few flowers in my hands, my first thought was “I am one lucky person!”. My second thought was, “I wish I could invite everyone I know to come and smell this”. That’s when I started feeling a little guilty. Guilty because I felt so lucky to have this moment of something so fresh, rejuvenating and relaxing. That’s when the thought hit me “I am the wealthiest person on earth right now”.
Common Definition Of Wealth
Usually when we speak of wealth we are referring to accumulation of money. According to the English Oxford Dictionary the definition of wealthy is, “having a great deal of money, resources, or assets; rich”. So if that’s the case, how could I feel wealthy while sitting in a tiny, old plastic structure that’s worth maybe few hundred dollars? Probably because often times we believe that true wealth only refers to lots of cash. Perhaps I am the only one who used to think that real wealth meant all your assets minus all your debts equal lots of leftovers to retirement (preferably early). I used to believe that wealth was only attainable by the very few lucky in this world. Then I “grew up” and realized that actually, wealth is attainable by all people. It’s all in how you define the word.
I realize writing about a topic like wealth, is me walking on a very thin ice. Everyone has their own personal opinion about it. Some say if I could just take care of my personal needs like rent and food, I’d be really happy and feel wealthy, while others need few millions in assets to feel content and happy. Regardless what our definition is, it’s important to remember that wealth is not just tangible assets, but also a feeling. To FEEL wealthy is as real as to BE wealthy. This is why I could sit in my old greenhouse and feel very wealthy. For me I felt rich in that very moment while experiencing life in the most simple way possible.
“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. “
-Henry David Thoreau
Reality Of Constantly Being Broke
Money, wealth, assets, checking accounts and so on, these can be sensitive subjects. No one wants to talk about the reality of constantly being broke. I know I sure didn’t want to. For years my husband and I went from paycheck to paycheck. Anybody who even tried talking to me about feeling rich made me angry. I couldn’t understand how feeling rich would pay our bills. We often felt judged and felt that perhaps we weren’t working hard enough and that was the reason why we couldn’t get ahead financially. The everyday stress of trying to manage our meager assets were exhausting. We kept hearing that we needed to be better stewards over what we had, even though it’s not like we weren’t trying our best. Every January, like millions of people, I’d make New Year resolution to get better at saving for the unexpected, but it seemed as if the unexpected always came along our way, and took the little extra. Then I one day I came in contact with a financial adviser.
The first thing he said to me was “You need to change your attitude about what is true wealth”. He ended up teaching both of us to dare to dream, and to make the necessary changes needed for a better financial future. He also helped us to understand how money and spending was first and foremost emotional. Along the way I discovered some important truths for me. If I wanted to feel wealthy, then I had to let Universe feel my sincere gratitude and be willing to give more. Tony Robbins, author and entrepreneur, says in his book, MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom, that “The secret to wealth is simple: Find a way to do more for others than anyone else does. Become more valuable. Do more. Give more. Be more. Serve more”. I had to replace my focus from consumption to stewardship and giving.
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”
Gratitude and Abundance
Those who really know me, know that I have always tried to be grateful and generous even when we earned less than average income for a family of our size. So what more could I give out to Universe that I wasn’t before? Perhaps the first lesson learned was, that I was already wealthy. A loving husband, healthy children, a home (no matter how small or dated) and many good friends. The second lesson was to let go of my perspective of the cup (or bank account) being half empty. I needed to rewire my thoughts of lack and replace with thoughts of abundance. This helped me to discover that both Robert and I had at the very minimum, abundance of talents and abilities, which helped us to be better stewards over what we already had. I stopped seeing the lack, instead got excited about every small accomplishment and progress. I started finding deeper understanding with living in the moment and being mindful of every little miracle around me. Back when buzz words like mindful and minimalist were not the hottest topic, I learned that simplicity and a grateful attitude was really the greatest wealth for me.
My Definition Of Wealth
So what do I really think is valuable to me? it’s my faith, a loving family (even when they really get on my nerves), basic human rights, health (even when I feel like poo..), and of course, all my friends. This brings me back to the overwhelming feeling that I had couple of days ago in my greenhouse. Perhaps for one person sitting and smelling lavenders is just plain boring . Or maybe for another individual it’s foolishness to focus on such trivial things, when there are people out there fighting for the basic needs in life. You may be right or you may be wrong, what matters is what your definition of wealth is. As you try to discover your own definition this new year, just remember it’s really never about the shiny stuff and how much others have, it’s all about what YOU think is the most valuable asset in your life. I feel very grateful to have discovered that a small trivial activity such as smelling beautiful flowers can bring me deeper joy and satisfaction than all the shiny gadgets in the world.