By Mike Aux-Tinee.
pros·per·i·ty noun \prä-ˈsper-ə-tē\
:the condition of being successful or thriving; especially: economic well-being.
This is the definition given by Merriam-Webster for prosperity. I think it is rather vague and that it’s open for personal interpretation. I bet, if you survey one hundred people, there would be a hundred different answers on what it means to be prosperous.
What is so perplexing to me, is that we are so preoccupied with trying to live up to someone else’s idea of what it means to be prosperous, how to live a prosperous life and not our own.
That idea that I am referring to is called, ‘keeping up with the Jones’. And it has become the standard so many people are trying gauge their lives by. The one thing I can not get over is that they are fictional. Well, that is not true, the ‘Jones‘ are supposed to represent real people; your neighbors, coworkers, friends but nobody specifically.
It’s a trick and a trap created by those who want to influence you into spending more and more of your money. Think of yourself as a hamster, every day you get on your wheel and are running all day long just trying to keep up. You never really catch up and get anywhere. But yet, you keep going and going until the day you die.
Those who created this little nightmare spent considerable time and effort studying us humans. They discovered something that makes us tick and that it’s in all of us. What they found was that we are competing for everything from the moment we are born right up to the very end.
As a child, we compete for the love and attention of our parents. When we go to school, we compete to be on the starting squad, to be seated in the first chair in the orchestra and for the attention of someone we like.
Onward in life, we compete to be accepted into certain groups, clubs or organizations and for jobs. We drive like we are in a NASCAR race, trying to keep other drivers from getting in front of us. On black friday, we will knock other people out-of-the-way or use pepper mace just so no one will take the things we want to buy. I could go on and provide more examples, but I think you get the idea.
Those who understand what makes us tick are using this to trick and trap us. The point is to get you to respond to perceived competition from an external ‘aggressor’ (the fictional Jones) to get you to illicit (do something) a behavior (spending your money). Those who benefit the most are the banks, advertising agencies, and retailers. Are you getting a better idea of how this is working and who is pulling the strings? At some point, we need to take control of our lives and get off the wheel.
It is important to come to terms with a few things. It’s not going to be an easy pill to swallow and our ego is going to take a hit. Making these changes to our lives is not going to make us very comfortable. It will be very tempting to just chuck it all away and go back to the old comfortable and familiar way of living.
But remember, you are being manipulated by a system that is only interested in what you have and does not care if you get deeper into debt, it just wants you to continue consuming their products. To recognize the path we are on is unsustainable and we need to change are but the first steps.
A new definition of prosperity, especially one in our own terms is needed. We can not take the easy route and accept someone else’s idea. Reprogramming our brain to let go of what we have been taught about things and competition is going to take some practice and a lot of inner strength. The outcome is to experience higher self-esteem, inner peace and to bring balance into our lives.
Here is my new definition of prosperity:
the state of living one’s life, based upon personal, social, emotional and spiritual terms not solely based upon economic well-being.
Like the other definition, it is also vague. I want that to give me flexibility as I get older. What may be important today in one of those criteria may change years down the road. I want to reduce the role of the economic well-being. I know I need money to live, but by focusing on what is important, I am able to effectively and efficiently allocate my resources to live a life that reflects more of who I am and the way I want to be.
When I think of prosperity based upon personal terms; it’s time to take off the rose-colored glasses and look at what is important to me. If I were to establish my priorities, what would they be? What do I value more than having a six figure income? Here are a few of the items on my list in no specific order:
spending time with family & friends
These things matter to me. I can make a six figure salary with all of the perks to go along with it, if I can not spend time on those things, I am poorer not richer. It is my belief that money does not buy happiness nor can it buy back lost time. I have heard so many retired men wish they would have worked less and spent more time with their families. I will not be one of those men.
Socially, I place a higher value on having more close friends than just a few acquaintances that come in and out of my life. I have discovered, the more time you spend with people, the stronger your relationship will become. If anything should happen and I experience problems, having a large and strong support group will help me get through the dark times.
I think, the one who dies with the most people at their funeral is truly richer than the one who dies with the most toys.
People will compare what you are doing or in this case not doing with your life. There will be times when someone brings up what you are doing in conversation and begin to criticize you. It’s important not to get upset and start arguing with them. Try to explain why you want to live this way and tell them you value their friendship more than money. They should understand, if they keep on hammering away, maybe it’s time to rethink how much you want them as a close friend.
To be emotionally prosperous means that I am secure with my decisions. I value being happier, having less stress and experience a greater sense of inner calm. I need to trust myself and the decisions I am making. I can not be second guessing everything otherwise, I am going to make myself miserable. And that is not the purpose, I am trying to make myself better.
Being emotionally secure, I do not feel the need to defend myself and my choices. I know they are the right ones for me. I am not going to deny what people say will not hurt, because it will. I know, if I stay on course and do not yield to the pressure, they will see how much happier I am over the way I was and they will come around. Again, if it becomes too much, I may have to rethink my friendship with them.
The one thing I have not talked about is spirituality. I try to avoid this because people associate that with being religious. it’s not about picking one religion over another, it is about creating inner peace, harmony and balance in your life. How that is done is up for each person to decide. If that means you spend time praying, great! If you want to take yoga or to find a quiet spot to meditate and clear your mind, great!
What it means to me, is that I take the best of everything that helps me to reduce anger and hatred. I want to let loose of the desire to cause harm to other people because I am selfish and greedy. A person who puts others before them self and helps someone up who has fallen is far wealthier than the person who has all of the money.
Today, I am making the choice to get off the wheel and never get back on.
I hope you liked this post. If you do, please pass it along.