How do you measure wealth?

It’s interesting that not buying things has made me focus more on what I DO have. And as I get rid of the crap, it’s like lifting a curtain or coming out of a fog. I’m really starting to see how STUFF has kept me busy and distracted, and disconnected from the things that really matter.

Because even though I’m trying to live on less income, not buying anything new, and getting rid of things I no longer need or use, instead of feeling deprived, I’m feeling rich.

I’m rich in love and friendships.

I’m rich in health and well-being.

I’m rich in time to design my own schedule.

Some of my wealth is a little more tangible, and adds to my level of happiness. For example, we planted a lemon tree last weekend, and when it starts producing fruit, we’ll be rich in lemons. And I’m already rich in citrus because along my walking route I have asked and been given permission to pick as much grapefruit as I like from one neighbor and as many kumquats as I want from another. They both seemed happy to be able to share their bounty.

This recession is making people question a lot about their values, lifestyles, and behavior. I think it will have a silver lining if it makes us question our relationship to the planet and the other people living on it. And if it causes us to use a different yardstick to determine how we feel about ourselves.

So how can we measure wealth? Does it only refer to our bank account? Or is it about other intangibles like love, happiness, friendship, health, and time?

How do YOU measure wealth? Please leave your thoughts in the Comments section.


  1. Kate Sommers says

    This is a very nice post.I agree that ‘things’ don’t hold the same value as much as having health and time to enjoy your life,friends to share it with,special moments that create lasting memories.I was just thinking this morning how rich my life feels because I can plan my day however I want,walk across the street to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and hear beautiful song birds singing outside my window everyday.
    I like what you have to say about the recession and there being a silver lining.That is a good way to look at all things in our lives.

  2. Kate says

    I’m so glad you feel rich! This is a great post. So interesting – taking *things* out of the equation has made you realize and appreciate what you already have – real wealth.

  3. hustler says

    I feel the things we own actually own us. The more things I have the more tied down I am. And the more upkeep and repair or add ons I must buy to go with them.

  4. Lynn says

    I feel that you are inside my head at times. I have been feeling the same way that you described. I have so much to be grateful for, and none of it is material. I too, am on a mission to simplify my life and live it to the fullest. Thank you for being there to encourage me.

  5. April says

    Very, very nice. Sometimes we are all on parallel tracks–I just blogged yesterday about a similar topic! I also keep thinking of a wonderful essay by E. B. White: “What Do Our Hearts Treasure?”

  6. Angela says

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Hustler- I agree. I had noticed in the last few years that I was spending a lot of time “maintaining” STUFF. So that it was owning me rather than the other way around.

    April-I am definitely going to look for the E.B. White essay, since he wrote my favorite children’s book ever: Charlotte’s Web. To this day I can’t kill a spider and I’ve never been a big fan of eating pork.

  7. Julie says

    Did you see the episode Oprah just did about taking away 2 famililies’ electronics for a week? It was so sad that in the 2nd family, the mom had gone to work in order to “afford” more stuff for her kids but yet her kids wanted to have her home, instead. I gave up my part time job 6 years ago in order to stay home with my son (who was then 2). Many times, especially as the economy went into the toilet, I wondered if I made the right choice—and yet I always decide immediately that yes, it’s far better to be home and do without extra stuff than to have my son get used to eating dinner without me while I’m at work! Already I see how fast the time goes by and can’t believe how big he is. I’m grateful that we are a very close family and a big day out for us is a trip to a park we’ve never been to and maybe a splurge at a coffee shop (store bought coffee!!) along the way. We have no Xbox, no Wii, he doesn’t have a TV in his room or a cell phone, and yet the kid thrives.

  8. Angela says

    Julie- I rarely ever see Oprah but that sounds like a really interesting program. I’m glad you’ve been able to live your life according to your values and priorities.

  9. tammy says

    I read once that wealth doesn't mean having the most. It's needing the least.
    I like that.
    Wonderful thoughts for this time of year!

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