Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Richness - Part One

Ask anyone the question how rich are you? and I am sure that in nearly all responses (not including those people who tell you to mind your own business!) the answer will be given in terms of monetary wealth.  I have this amount of money in the bank.  I earn this amount salary.  I own a car, a house, furnishings, jewellery, sports equipment.  I have this credit limit on my credit card.  In fact, if you look up the definition of rich on the internet, you will find this definition listed first:-

Rich: having a great deal of money or assets; wealthy.

In our modern society, this is how we are conditioned to think - in terms of monetary wealth and not in terms of personal growth and well-being.  To be rich means to possess a lot of money.  The two things are now intrinsically linked.  If you stop and think about what money is, then you can say that we measure our richness based on a something that only exists as a series of zeros and ones (the binary code of the computer program that holds the details of your bank account) held in some form of electronic digital memory device, or as pieces of paper that have a special kind of ink pattern on them.  Here's another question.  If the financial economy went into meltdown and completely collapsed, as it very nearly did in 2007 and it continues to teeter on the brink, or, if there was a catastrophic global computer systems failure and all details of bank accounts were irrecoverably lost, would you cease to be rich?

My answer to you is no.  Not if you value your life and measure its value not by means of monetary value, but in terms of life value.

Manfred Max-Neef, an economist and environmentalist, created a widely accepted classification of the fundamental human needs.  He defined them as:-
  • Subsistence
  • Protection
  • Affection
  • Understanding
  • Participation
  • Leisure
  • Creation
  • Identity
  • Freedom
Money does not exist on the list.  Therefore, money itself is not a fundamental human need.

In 1943, Abraham Maslow published his hierarchy of human needs.  This hierarchy is still in use today, in terms of understanding human motivational factors. 

 Maslow's Hierarchy of Human Needs

Once again, there is no mention of money in the list of human needs.  So why do so many of people believe that money is the greatest need of humanity?  Why do so many people devote so much time and effort in the pursuit of money? 

Because modern society dictates that money is fundamental for a healthy, prosperous society.  That having money is a way of gaining acceptance.  That money brings freedom and power.  But none of this is actually true.

I propose a new way of defining richness.  Richness in life can be determined with the following formula:-

(Family + Friends + Love + Life Experience + Shelter + Subsistence + Freedom of Expression) x Positive Contribution to the Universe and Life = Richness

Everyday that I follow my heart and live the life that I choose for myself, a life free of dictates by conventional society, a life in tune with the voice of my heart, then I will always be a rich man.

I am rich because I exist, I live and I let life flood into my heart and I give out love freely.

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