What is true wealth?

What is your definition of wealth?  It’s something we all think about and in one way or another we have some sort of an opinion of wealth.  Everyone’s definition of wealth is different.  The American society once used to revere the wealthy.  The “Titans of Industry”.  They were looked at as people that built this country.  That took risks, made smart moves, and built huge empires with generational wealth, often at the expense of cheap immigrant labor, strenuous working conditions, and backroom deals.  But they were revered.  These days that type of money is demonized.  It’s often thought that people with huge wealth got sweetheart deals from government, stepped on the backs of others to get where they are, and get bailed out with huge payouts when they fail.  Whether these thoughts about the wealthy are right or wrong these are all the traditional thoughts of wealth.  The amount of money in your bank.  The amount of influential power you have because of your wealth.

I am in the world of financial planning.  And I work with many people that earn a great income and work hard and are great people.  Some have charitable intentions with their wealth, some want to support family, and some want to stockpile out of fear of the worst.  And some spend every dime, regardless of how much they earn.  Some people came into sudden wealth, sometimes earned, sometimes not.  What I’ve found is that the age-old wisdom of “money doesn’t bring you happiness” is all too true.  I have just a layman’s knowledge of the Stoics but their philosophy resonates with me when it comes to wealth.  Stoics are often thought of as downers and pride themselves on not having fun.  The opposite is true.  They basic philosophy suggests that the phrase “this too shall pass” works on both sides of the equation.  It’s often uttered when someone is going through a rough patch, but it’s also true when going through moments of ecstasy.  There is much more satisfaction, regardless of the size of your stack of money, for those that are able to temper their ups and downs and find contentment with things that cost nothing; family, outdoors, building a business if that brings satisfaction, things that give you purpose.

Epictetus said “wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

  • Imagine you have no money to spend on a given weekend.  What would you do that weekend that would bring joy and/or contentment?
  • What possessions do you own that you haven’t touched in the last two years?
    • Get rid of it
  • Ask yourself if you are going to events and being around people because you feel like you “need” to or because it/they make you happy, or make you money.
    • Learn to say no
  • Focus on your health, family first.
    • They cost nothing and are two things you can fall back on in times of trouble and will also bring you joy.

All of these steps will minimize your distractions and bring contentment, which I believe will help you focus on building wealth, both monetarily, and spiritually.

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