By Susan Boskey
If it is true what Emerson once said, that the first wealth is health, then why isn’t it what most people think of first? Wealth has become synonymous with happiness, and happiness, with a definition of wealth as material abundance. Both amazing and inspiring, the Oxford English Dictionary puts personal and spiritual well-being before materialism:
1. The condition of being happy and prosperous; well-being. 2. Spiritual well-being. 3. Prosperity consisting in the abundance of possessions; “worldly goods”, valuable possessions, especially in great abundance: riches, affluence.
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Wealth, then, is both non-financial and financial. But since approximately 70% of the North American economy is dependent on consumer spending, marketing strategies have cleverly shaped and skewed the way people think about wealth and their relationship to it. Their top-of-mind (fundamental) definition is likely to have become a combination of: lots of money, several homes, expensive cars, boats, jewelry, etc. Personal and spiritual well-being is further on down the list, if considered important enough to be on the list, at all.
When equated with happiness, the definition of wealth as something that can be purchased offers the answer to concerns of personal credibility, success in one’s love life, respect, public status, etc. Bombarded with messages telling us what we need to make the right impression, get the dream home, car, computer, body, job, clothes, cell phone, education, food, vacations, investments, whatever, most (at least Americans) buy-in to this conventional wisdom.
One’s perception of pressure to maintain a certain image fuels the justification to rack up more debt, if only to give the appearance of material wealth. Ironically, in the fervent pursuit of this type of wealth, the seeds of destruction erupt and undermine the wealth of well-being. Though symbols of success may abound, behind closed doors, many suffer. Not only is a financial price paid, but the extraction of one’s non-financial wealth depletes us at the core of our being.
Consequently, more and more people find themselves needing to work longer hours, taking on a second job, borrowing more or finding a new, promising, speculative activity in the vicious cycle of trying to stay ahead of debt. Chronic stress, the inability to cope, anxiety about expenses, marital problems and divorce, substance abuse, bankruptcy, poor eating habits, lack of quality time with family, and deferred health care wreak havoc. The lack of non-financial wealth puts us at risk of making poor financial decisions, risking the loss of what we have worked hard to achieve.
In conclusion, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to anticipate the many sad outcomes of seeking wealth via its most mundane aspect. The sensationally captivating carrot -before-the-donkey lure of commerce glorifies the body, distorts the soul’s healthy emotions, and tends to devalue one’s higher self (spirit). To reclaim and restore wealth at the primary level of personal and spiritual well-being is to establish the foundation upon which sufficient, long-term material wealth can be built.
Read Part 1 Here:
What is Wealth? Part 1: The Lure of the Hamster Wheel
Susan Boskey is author of the book, The Quality Life Plan®: 7 Steps to Uncommon Financial Security. The information in the book not only exposes the systemic-root cause of the 2008-09 economic meltdown, but perhaps more importantly, provides critical steps to help ordinary people turn the tide and build real wealth. To learn more or to purchase the book, visit her website at http://TheQualityLifePlan.com