At any given moment of any day, we’re surrounded on all sides with the idea that being rich should be our ultimate goal and expectation, that this will make us happy and desirable and fulfilled. The pop song on the radio, the Instagram post of your friend on vacation, the reality show celebrating gross wealth and excess – all of it sends the message that life is only good and worth living if our bank account is overflowing and we’re spending money extravagantly. But did you ever notice that rarely in all of the advertisements and stimuli constantly coming at us does richness stem from relationships, experiences, nature, faith and simple living? What about the riches found in learning and growing and giving to others?
The truth is that when we expose ourselves to TV and the internet and even radio, we’re subject to a steady stream of advertising, both overt and subliminal. We may not choose to buy something based on the commercial that we see or hear or the ad on our social media, but if we see a product in our favorite TV show or see someone we admire enjoying and posing with it on their feed, our subconscious minds often tell us that we need it also. Look how fabulous their lives are, look how happy they look! Maybe if we get that, we can have the same happiness. The glamorized life displayed is designed to make us feel a lack, that we’re less than what we could and should be. It’s designed to make us feel a constant craving because no matter how much we buy or how much we attain, there’s always something else, something more, something better. The bigger, better deal that’s just beyond our grasp. And we sacrifice everything else in our lives as we constantly search and reach for more and better.
An over-sized, luxurious house filled with beautiful furnishings and decorations and every manner of “stuff” imaginable is nothing more than a prison without love, friendship, and zest for life. An amazing vacation by yourself isn’t nearly as enjoyable or memorable as one spent with friends and family. Constantly striving for something better than what we have causes us to ignore, belittle and often discard truly wonderful people and things in our lives. In a moment we can blink and we’ve ruined relationships, wasted time, wasted our youth and our health, instilled false morals in our children and we may wake and realize that in all our striving for better, we let go of the wonderful life that we had all along.
This is not to say that improving our situation or moving up in life is automatically a bad thing. But it’s imperative that we get our priorities straight before we set out to “improve” our life. For example, I have gone through several financial seasons in my life. I’ve made over $100,000 a year and I’ve also made $12,000 a year, along with everything in between. While the seasons of prosperity brought relative comfort and the ability to travel and acquire more and ostensibly better stuff, my actual life wasn’t any better. At times it was actually measurably worse, in fact. The problem with keeping up with the Jones’ is that they’re keeping up with the Smith’s and the Smith’s are working towards the Johnson’s. It’s never ending, like being a donkey with a carrot strapped to it’s head and dangling forever. No matter how well you’re doing, there’s always someone doing better. A new millionaire is only happy for a moment, then he realizes he can be a multi-millionaire. And once he gets there, he wants to be a billionaire.
So aside from monetary wealth, how would you describe “rich”? To me, richness is laughter and wonder and joy. It’s the confidence and satisfaction that comes from overcoming a challenge and working through a solution. It’s meeting people and learning and growing from all experiences, whether good, bad or indifferent. It’s helping others in any and every capacity that I can. Richness is lifelong friendships that can be dormant for years and re-charged in an instant, it’s family that drives you crazy at times but has your back no matter what, it’s new friendships that develop in the most unlikely of places. It’s warm sunshine after a long winter, crisp fall days full of pumpkin donuts and cider and campfires. Richness is my children joking with me and telling me all about their lives, my husband laughing with me and holding me close, my four dogs climbing all over me and cuddling close because I’m their person. To me, being rich has little to nothing to do with money or glamour or splashy “look at me” nonsense. I’m rich beyond measure right at this moment. We all are. It’s simply a matter of perspective – we can either look at our life and see everything we don’t have or we can treasure everything that we do have. What will you choose today?
Copyright 2019, all rights reserved. All images taken by me unless otherwise stated.