Are you rich?


having a great deal of money or assets; wealthy.

People believe widely different things about money. Some believe that money is the root of all evil. Others believe that money can be a useful tool for the betterment of the world.
Objectively speaking, money is neither good nor bad in and of itself. Having money doesn’t make you good or bad. It only makes you more of of who you already are. I didn’t coin that phrase but it really resonates with me.

But let’s go back to the definition of rich: Having a great deal of money or assets.
How then do we define “a great deal”?
If you asked people on a random street of a random city of any states of America: Are you rich? I wouldn’t be surprised if 80% (if not more) answered no, I’m not rich.
“Who, according to you is rich?” I’d ask next and most would answer with the name of some actress, football player or otherwise famous person.
Everyone asked will agree that someone who makes a few million dollars each year is rich.
I would contend however, that each person asked on that random street of that random city of any state of America is rich even though they wouldn’t consider themselves so.

If you live in America (and this applies to any other developed country), you are rich. And here is how I arrive at this conclusion:

Is there running water where you live?
That is not a reality for so many in the developing world yet pretty much everyone in our country has access to clean running water. (even homeless people can go to shelters, use public restrooms and here in Hawaii take showers at the beach)
Cool water to drink. Hot water to shower. Water to flush our toilets. Luxuries that even Kings of yore didn’t enjoy.
The “average” American of the 21st century is richer than a King.

Is there electricity where you live?
Do you flip on a switch and light comes on? Do you push a button and images appear on a screen? How about everything that electricity affords us?
Televisions (many of the so called poorest households own a TV, many own more than one), Telephones, Ipads, Air Conditioning, Heating systems. In our part of the world, we call them modern conveniences, but to the rest of the world these are nothing short of miracles.

Do you ever throw away food?
If there was ever a good measuring stick for being rich, it is this. Do you eat everyday? Most of us, eat at least three times per day. Most of us have to clear our fridges of food that expired. Most of us have items in our pantries that will go uneaten.
Our problem in America is not lack of food but too much of it. There is food in our fridges, in our freezers, in our pantries, in our cars. There are supermarkets, farmers markets, health food markets. There is organic food, gluten free food, vegan food, junk food, excess of food.
We are blessed (and some are cursed) with food yet in so many parts of the world people are starving because they literally have no access to it.

So going back to that definition: having a great deal of money or assets. We may disagree about what is a great deal of money but we can all agree that here in America we all have a great deal of a lot of things.

This is how I would revise that definition:


Enjoying a good standard of living: a roof over your head, food in your tummy, access to running water, to electricity, to medical care; access to the means to raise yourself to a higher standard yet (via books, education and entrepreneurial spirit)

Rich is subjective. We are rich only in comparison.
That is why those hypothetical people I surveyed earlier do not call themselves rich. They are comparing their reality to that of Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Cruise. But the people struggling in India or Africa would look at our bags of Lays potato chips, our bottles of soda, our Nike shoes as obvious signs of the most decadent kind of wealth.

If you are reading this post, that means you have access to a computer (or handheld device) and working internet (most likely a fast connection). If you have ever envied rich people. If you have ever begrudged them. If you believe that rich people are bad, look in the mirror and look at yourself for you are rich! Digest that for a while and see the world with fresh eyes.
Should you be despised and begrudged because of what you have? Is your worth measured by what you own? Are you bad because you have more stuff than the majority of people on the planet?

We are people. Imperfect by definition.
People with a story.
Breathing people.
Feeling people.
People who make decisions, sometimes good, sometimes bad.

Money is neutral. Money is not even the only measure for being rich and certainly not the best measure.

I for one consider myself extremely rich because I can nap every day. Gratitude for all that we have is what makes us truly rich. Even when it seems we have so little, there is much we can be grateful for.

“Be thankful for what you have. Your life, no matter how bad you think it is, is someone else’s fairy tale”

Wale Ayeni

Next week’s essay is titled “Exercise makes me happy”. Subscribe using the widget below and it will be delivered to your inbox automatically. Thank you for reading.

Don’t miss a post!