The pursuit of wealth is one of the greatest illusions of our time. We think we will be wealthy when we come to a place in our lives when we can do whatever we want with money. One might imagine this to be the freedom illustrated by the phrase “financial peace”. Wealth, however, will never be attained if it is defined as getting everything you want, because when you get what you want, you will just want more. While money can fulfill needs (and thus provide fulfillment) money can never buy happiness. I believe a person will only be able to consider themselves wealthy when they are satisfied with what they have today.
The apostle Paul writes:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. (Philippians 4:12 NIV)
Observations about contentment:
- Contentment is learned and thus contentment is process. Are you becoming content?
- When you are content, when circumstances change you do not.
- Both the well fed and hungry are susceptible to a lack of contentment.
Here are some stats from the book Your Money and Your Brain by Jason Zweig
A survey of 800 people with a net worth of at least $500,000 found that 19% of them agreed with the statement, “Having enough money is a constant worry in my life.” But among those who are worth at least $10 million, 33% felt that way.
I love the following quote from philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer
Wealth is “like seawater: the more you drink, the thirstier you become.”
As a result of these and similar surveys and my own personal experience, here is what I believe wealth is:
Wealth is a decision fostered by an attitude of self-control. Wealth is experienced when a person has the ability to be content with God’s blessings.
If you are looking for an external measurement for wealth it will never come.
Wealth requires looking beyond the bank account.
The wealth we experience on this earth is about so much more than money. If you are just trying to build wealth like crazy, you will never get enough. If you are defining wealth in terms of acquisition of currency, it will be so hard to ever feel satisfied. Each day take time look around and see your loved ones so you can be reminded of how blessed you are.
Wealth is the ability to choose to focus your life on the truly important things. Someone might make a lot more money in their life time, but in return be burdened by meetings, appointments, and obligations – this is not wealth. Wealth is the flexibility to be involved in the things that really matter in life.
Though I might not have as much as others in the bank, I feel like the richest man in the world because I am surrounded by a family that loves me, and I’m involved in a ministry that helps people.
When you’re content with what you have, it seems like it’s so easy to give like crazy! It seems like it shouldn’t be that way, but the spiritual relationship between money and our faith is obvious.
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It’s all about knowing how much is enough. And understanding your own priorities and goals. Once you have that understanding, you are more likely to find contentment. But, as you pointed out it is a process. You have to WANT to be content, and then work toward it.
I agree. However, you have to also believe that there is a certain level of wealth that allows you to finally “breathe easy.” I’m not talking millions–more like a steady job and plenty of reserves in the bank. I feel that those people who have to worry about where the next meal is coming from are the most concerned about wealth despite the fact that they’re the most ill-equipped to generate any.
Jason @ RedeemingRiches says
I think we often wait to be content because we think it will just “happen”, but the Bible’s point about it being something we learn is so huge!
Contentment doesn’t come when you get a little more money or a little better health etc. Contentment comes when we trust in Him for all our needs.
I have to remind myself often that I need to have loose grips and open hands regarding my money.
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Agree, it would be great to have everything in the world, and in a lot of ways we do if you look carefully. but you have to be content and happy with what you have because you probably have more than you realize compared to others.
The stats which seem to show that those who are wealthier are more worried about their money are pretty shocking. However, it does not surprise me.
Being happy with what you have today is one of the most difficult concepts to accept in personal finance, and maybe one of the most effective. We’ve been taught all of our lives to always “reach for more,” but when it comes to more money, our appetite for “stuff” seems to keep up with our income.
Striving for excellence is one thing, but it must be balanced with acceptance and mentally living within today’s means.
there is a lot of sense in what you say but be that as it may, i honestly still think that being wealthy entails making more money than you will ever ever need in many lifetimes. maybe this is the naivety of youth talking but i would like to see it for myself that money does not bring happiness
Good post! If all we see wealth as is a dollar amount or possessions we may lose sight of other valuables like family, firends and our faith. Contentment is definitely learned because I battle it regularly.
Financial Samurai says
Solid post! I have to admit, the wealthier I get, the more content I am. I can’t help it Craig!
However, I do admit counting the zeros got VERY boring in my 20’s, so I went out and bought rental property and stuff. Now, I feel working has more purpose (to fund the debt so i don’t go broke ironically), as it’s all towards achieving the goal of early retirement by 45!
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Unnikrishnan KG says
Well written on Wealth and Contentment….