‘Wealth’ is a bit of a contentious concept in today’s world. It conjures up images of a few rich bankers and business owners on the one hand, leaving the many living in austerity on the other.
However, there is another way of looking at wealth. The word derives from the archaic English for well-being or ‘well-health’ and I invite you, this month, to explore your wealth more in terms of your inner resources than your financial resources.
Start by watching my introductory video below (click on the bar under the video to read the full text). Then spend some time on self reflection and further reading.
The quality of your wealth
Welcome, Living Money members. Its Jeremy here to introduce this month’s topic which is about wealth and what it means to us.
Can I ask you to consider for a moment if you feel wealthy?
If you do, is it a comfort or do you live keeping one eye over your shoulder looking for the demons that are going to snatch your wealth from under your nose? Is fear of loss your dominant emotion?
Conversely, if you don’t consider yourself wealthy, is your life centred around becoming wealthy, on earning more, saving more, dreaming of a life of wealth and luxury?
Perhaps, though, we should be asking ourselves more profound questions relating to the true meaning of wealth. Understanding this question has, I have found, helped people achieve greater happiness and freedom than simply asking them to quantify their wealth.
Two events brought this home to me last week. In the first, I caught sight of a newspaper article about the ‘homillionaires’ – people with million pound plus properties who don’t feel wealthy or free to do what they want
Frankly, being asset rich (or bricks rich) and cash poor is not new. I’ve been dealing with it for years. In 80s I went to see a newly retired couple living outside Leeds. They had asked to see someone about their finances, which they were not too happy about. We scheduled an hour and they spent nearly half of that time showing me their dream house which had every luxury under the sun, no expense spared. Eventually, we sat down to discuss money. My couple were anxious that they seemed to have no cash to do anything. The were particularly distressed that they couldn’t even fly to Australia to visit their daughter.
No it didn’t take a fully qualified financial adviser, as I was then, to put two and two together. The huge investment of capital into their dream home had left them with nothing to live on. Indeed, they had built themselves a gilded cage!
The other event was a talk given by Nick Higham, a retired headmaster who had recently walked the 800 km Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrim route from Southern France to Santiago de Compostella in North West Spain. For his journey he had shed everything except a small rucksack with no more than a spare pare of socks and a few spare clothes. He walked alone or with fellow pilgrims, he had no plans and slept in huts or churches as circumstances dictated.
He talked about how he had shed his physical baggage – even if only temporarily – and found it therapeutic. He talked about how he had replaced it with a far deeper and richer spirituality. He described how at times he would find himself in tears for no specific reason. And ultimately he described how walking the ‘The Way’ – at times in solitary silence, at times with fellow pilgrims had added real depth to his life.
So, who felt wealthier, my retired couple in Leeds trapped in their gilded cage, or the pilgrim who shed everything for a while, went on a journey and finished with a greater understanding of himself and his fellow human beings.
In his introduction, Nick talked about the great spiritual yearning in society today, a yearning he had found in his fellow travellers of all faiths and no faith. Indeed, finding a deeper wealth than financial or property wealth was a key motivation for those he met on The Way.
In my book I devote a whole chapter to this question of the true meaning of wealth because it is so important.
I write in depth about the using the power of financial life planning to provide time and money to develop ourselves through leaving the comfort of our homes to make a journey. In my own case I have made real efforts to journey.
I’ve walked in Spain and joined thousands of others at the Caceras WOMAD festival. I’ve travelled in Italy, France and South Africa. I go to Lourdes with a pilgrimage of the sick and infirm each year. I’ve competed in the Great North Run half marathon almost every year since 2002. I’ve attended countless personal and professional development courses.
And of course we don’t have to leave our homes. Taking time to read is so important – and not just personal development books. Even a powerful novel can have an impact on you. This too is a journey that can lead you to die to your old self and be reborn into your new self. The difference may be minor, but something changes.
Perhaps I can wind up by asking you to reflect on this quote by my friend Leesa Daymond:
‘In this world we are living through a time of both great darkness and light. We have war, and corporate control, alongside a great spiritual emergence. It is time to choose which collective time line you want to take’.
Reading and reflection
You can read my longer review of the book here.
Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US
The Soul of Money
Lynn Twist’s book is surely a must read for you as you embark on this journey to master your money and your life. Subtitled ‘Reclaiming the Wealth of our Inner Resources’, Twist writes frankly and courageously about her own experiences with money and how they made her revise the fundamental tenets that shaped her money and life.
So often today talk of financial freedom is viewed with cynicism, hardly surprising given the phrase has been used by the big financials to advertise anything from current accounts to offset mortgages. But really, how much ‘freedom’ is a current account going to give you? twist, on the other hand, recognises that freedom is achievable, although not by buying a hyped up current account. For Twist, freedom is fun in our relationship with money and she argues that as we strengthen and develop this relationship it can bring about a deep transformation in our lives.
The first highlight I made in my copy of the book was in the first paragraph of the introduction, where Twist writes ‘Ultimately, this book is the pathway to personal and financial freedom’. This is true freedom, gained from deep self-examination, listening to the wisdom of others and practicing new values and principles with courage and compassion, not from buying a cleverly marketed financial product. And its why I changed the Living Money tag line to a similar form of words having avoided the F word for so long.
Self reflection exercise
Spend some time reflecting on the quote by my friend Leesa Daymond:
‘In this world we are living through a time of both great darkness and light…
‘We have war, and corporate control, alongside a great spiritual emergence…
‘It is time to choose which collective time line you want to take’.
Is her description of a dual world right? Can you describe examples from your own experience?
Which timeline do you want to take?
Now ask yourself ‘So what?’
Then ask yourself ‘What next?’
Please do add your thoughts to our discussion of this topic – and Lynn Twist’s book – in the comments box below (remember our guidelines)