When we think of wealth, we mostly associate it with money, investments, and assets relating to our financial capital. And then we might pause, and intuitively feel that wealth is definitely much more than just having money. My first understanding of wealth, came from this excellent essay by Paul Graham:
"If you want to create wealth, it will help to understand what it is. Wealth is not the same thing as money. Wealth is as old as human history. Far older, in fact; ants have wealth. Money is a comparatively recent invention.
What is work anyway?
Our beliefs about work are so embedded in our culture, that we often forget to pause and examine our understanding of work. How we view our work gives us our story of why we work, what good do we work for, and when we should work, and gives us the very reason to work in a way that is meaningful.
The old story of work has been rather bleak. It was even in the understanding of some religions that viewed work as a punishment for sin. In classical times, greek thinkers started to view work as “the lack of leisure”, popularized by Aristotle’s “we work to have leisure, on which happiness depends”.
On the surface, the labor market appears to be undergoing a crisis that is especially hard on young adults at the beginning of their careers. But if we examine the drivers of what is really happening, we start seeing with fresh eyes and discover a goldmine of opportunity to design our lives in a way that gives us the freedom to flourish.
How meaningful do we find our jobs?
I was not surprised to read In a recent study of 180 million employees in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, that 87% of workers are “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their jobs. That is a whopping 7 in 8 people waking up everyday, to spend majority of their lives doing something they do not find meaningful.
Beyond personal discernment, there is still something invisible at large that I know is influencing my spending.
For example, I recently received an extra vacuum cleaner as a wedding gift (even though we told our guests no gifts!), and promptly tried to sell it as we really didn’t need two vacuum cleaners. Our buyer was a lovely lady called Beverly who later sent us this note:
I saw this smart-looking blazer that I really wanted – I could always need new clothes for the office, it was in a pretty color I didn’t already have, and what a great fit I found! I bought it in a jiffy and proudly hung it in my wardrobe.
The next morning, I tried it on but was dismayed that I somehow didn’t look as good as the model in the catalogue – ah, it’s probably because I didn’t have that matching pair of pants and the right shoes. And it looks so good with that new bag. Hey, since I’m buying that new pair of pants, shouldn’t I just make it worthwhile and get another blouse to match that?
There were two travelers who were lost in a desert and had been walking for days. They were fatigued, thirsty, and ready to give up… when in the distance, one of them saw something glistening in the sand.
They moved with whatever might they had to inch closer, “It’s a Diamond!!” exclaimed one of them, now hopeful that that they could sell it for money to get some water and food when they arrived at the next town.