It’s often easy to overlook the simple things in life for which we should be grateful, yet many take for granted. I know we’ve all heard this adage that if you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world. If you have money in your bank, your wallet, and some spare change, you are among 8% of the word’s wealthy.
I don’t know about you, but my entire adult life, I’ve always managed to put money into my checking/savings accounts, keep about $20 in my wallet, and I’ve always had a roof over my head. However, there was a long period of time where I really didn’t feel wealthy at all. I remember my husband and I putting $75 in an envelope which we would use to buy our monthly groceries when we were first married. Then we would walk around the grocery store with a calculator in hand to make sure that we did not overspend.
The idea of a cell phone was a luxury 25 years ago compared to today when elementary school children walk around with their own phone. We would often cancel or reduce our cable services when money was tight and now people can stream their favorite movies or shows on any number of on-line services.
Values have definitely changed over the years. What were once considered luxuries or privileges are now expected by the masses. The idea of “Keeping up with the Joneses” has jumped into overdrive as people try to keep up with what they see others doing on social media.
Yes, our world is different than it was 25 years ago, 50 years ago, 100 years ago. But I’d like to offer a different spin on the “wealth” we are so fortunate to have.
The absolute best summer of my life was our first summer in Summit County. Our boys were 5 and 2. I had left my career and was still trying to find rewarding work that allowed me to spend more time with our boys. My husband had a job with benefits, but was making probably 1/3 of what he had made in the corporate world. Yet, for those 3 months of 1999, we felt like we were beyond blessed. We rented a very small 2-bedroom condo with washer only (we dried our clothes outside on the front porch). We had yet to purchase any of the high-country toys we all “needed” (i.e. skis, bikes, snowmobiles, etc). Yet, as a family, we had the time of our lives. We hiked, we explored, and we fished. And, as we paid our bills each month, we actually had money left in our account at the end of each month. Our focus changed from stuff to experiences. And while our bank account said that we were poor, we knew that we were luckier than most in our country and in the world.
Today, as we have developed in our careers, that bank account grew a bit, and we no longer have to use a calculator when buying groceries. But, I will never forget that summer of 1999 when I felt like I was the richest woman in the world because we had followed our dream and were living in paradise and exploring the great outdoors with our children.
To this day, the great joys in my life cost nothing…singing Christmas carols around the piano with family, decorating the Christmas tree together, snuggling up with our grand-puppy as we watch a movie, running, hiking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
If you are reading this, you are likely in the 8% of the wealthiest people on the planet. While your circumstances and bank account make you richer than 92% of the world’s population, your attitude toward what you already have really determine your “wealth”. Gratitude – one of many positive emotions that is about focusing on what’s good in our lives and being thankful for what we have. Gratitude is pausing to notice and appreciate the things that we often take for granted like having a place to life, food, clean water, friends and family.
So, as you ring in this holiday season, give some thought about how truly “wealthy” you are.