In the last few years there has been much conversation about the definition of success and Arianna Huffington is leading the charge in her book Thrive, challenging our current thinking to redefine success.
Rather than equating success to money and power, she advocates for a Third Metric that consists of well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving.
However, are we ever going to be able to change the traditional definition of success if we don’t firstly change the definition of wealth? The Oxford dictionary definition of “an abundance of valuable possessions or money” is consistent with society’s current definition of what it is to be wealthy.
I suggest that this definition is losing its relevance in today’s society we need to reevaluate how we define ‘wealth’. We are experiencing shifting generational attitudes and a greater emphasis on work-life balance, well-being and personal fulfilment. The traditional metric of monetary and materialistic possessions has the potential to undervalue our true net wealth.
Using the traditional metric, it is the minority in our community that we would consider wealthy, yet I would argue that the person with the grandest house, or the biggest bank balance is not always the wealthiest in the street. I have never heard a eulogy that quotes a bank balance or lists material possessions as a testament to an individual’s life. What is recognized and celebrated is kindness, compassion, empathy and generosity.
Generosity will change lives, generosity will leave a lasting impression and generosity will be remembered. The poorest man can be the most generous because generosity doesn’t have to cost anything. Generosity of spirit is not discriminatory and we can all own it in abundance. We can all show kindness by helping a stranger in the street; by using our voice when we see an injustice; by giving our time to chat to elderly relatives; by patiently listening to children repeat the same story we have heard many times; by showing compassion and empathy for those in need; by lending a helping hand when needed most and by recognizing precious moments and being Thankful for them.
Generosity of spirit is the best measure of wealth and a true measure of a life well lived.
So next time you are asked to consider your net wealth, don’t look at the bank statement or your pay slip for verification, look at those around you and consider how your generosity and kindness might change their lives or make their day just a little happier.
How will you measure your net wealth?
Do you think you are wealthy because of money and material possessions or because you are a person who always shows generosity of spirit, celebrating and helping create Thankful moments for those around you?