Understanding the true meaning of wealth helps us achieve greater happiness and freedom
than simply quantifying, categorising and organising our wealth.
Do you you feel wealthy?
If you do, is your wealth a comfort or is fear of loss your dominant emotion?
If you don’t, is your life centred around becoming wealthy, on earning more, saving more, dreaming of a life of wealth and luxury?
Or should we be asking ourselves more profound questions relating to the true meaning of wealth. Understanding this question has, I have found, helped people achieve greater happiness and freedom than simply asking them to quantify their wealth.
Two views of wealth
I visited a newly retired couple in Leeds a few years ago. They gave me a conducted tour of their new house which had every luxury under the sun, no expense spared. It turned out that all their savings had gone into the house and my couple were now distressed because they didn’t have sufficient funds to visit their daughter in Australia.
Recently a friend of mine, a retired headmaster, walked the 800 km Camino de Santiago in Spain. He had shed everything except a small rucksack with no more than a few spare clothes. He walked alone or with fellow pilgrims, he had no plans and slept in huts or churches as circumstances dictated.
He told me how he had shed his physical baggage, replacing it with a far deeper and richer way of life that had added real meaning to his life.
So who was wealthier?
My Leeds couple were far wealthier on paper than my schoolteacher friend, and yet found themselves trapped in a gilded cage whilst my teacher had, for a while, let go of everything and found freedom.
Defining wealth in financial terms can do no more than trap us, whilst defining wealth in terms of our capacity for wholehearted living can be intensely liberating.
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