Thursday, September 27, 2012


c. Steinbeck

It is said that, during times of economic depression, people read Steinback; during prosperity they read Ayn Rand. It’s true. I read the Fountainhead and Anthem several years ago, during a much better economy. I started reading Grapes of Wrath this weekend.

It brought to mind all of the other books and stories I’ve read about people who are poor, yet don’t live like it; don’t let it define them. They have very full lives, and don’t lack anything they need. Granted, they didn’t have iphones… but they survived.

I started thinking how much our society has changed. Our generation has always known abundance. Just listen to any conversation amongst especially young people today. There is definitely an emphasis on money: having… getting… wanting. The current economic recession has rendered many people technically poor. People, who have no idea what it’s like to be without have felt themselves getting financially leaner.

I wondered how would our lavishly high-tech generation handle a depression? One where we would really have to do without?

Our richness or poorness has more to do with our mindset than the contents of our wallets. I have been miserable with a lot, and completely fulfilled with very little. It all has to with where we are putting our focus.

Sure, we need money for stuff. Our happiness doesn’t have to depend on how much expendable income we have. People have been content with both. Being financially rich pales in comparison to other areas we can be rich in.

Of course, I always thought it would be better to be financially rich, and just learn to develop the other areas, but if often doesn’t work that way. I’m not sure I would have learned to appreciate and work on enriching the other areas if I hadn’t needed to.

We can be rich in
• Lack of worry, peace of mind
• Creativity
• Family ties, friendships
• Mobility – the ability to do what you want, go where you want, live on your terms.
• Good health
• An uncluttered mind

If given a choice, I would most definitely choose richness in any of these areas before money.  So whenever you start to feel “poor,” try to think of areas you are abundant in. You may start to feel rich.

Can’t imagine a life without money? Heidemarie Schwermer, 
is a 70 year-old woman from Germany who wanted to test her beliefs that the homeless didn’t need money to be accepted into society, but rather a chance to empower themselves, to feel useful. What started as a 12 month experiment to go completely without money has ended up turning into a lifestyle for 15 years now.

c. 2012

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