Rethinking Rich

At its worst, this recession has left countless people homeless, jobless, hungry, angry and injured. At best, it’s led many Americans to cut up their credit cards and cut out unnecessary spending. Others are voluntarily simplifying their lives, reducing consumption, sharing resources with neighbors, and finding new value in the so-called “simple” pleasures of a not-so-big life. I say “Amen” to that.

I know a lot of people with very rich lives and small bank balances, and I know some wealthy people who feel trapped and miserable in their lives. Of course there are lots of folks in between those simplified extremes, but I’m starting to know in my bones that feeling rich has more to do with how we are living that what we earn for a living.

I should disclose that I’m an American who has never known poverty. As a kid, I watched my parents struggle when my father was starting his own business, but that just meant more homemade gifts and hand-me-downs during lean times. I myself have never earned six figures, but I’ve always paid my bills, pursued my pleasures and lived comfortably. I have a roof over my head, food in the ‘fridge, health insurance, disposable income, and a ’98 Corolla that gets me where I need to go. I recognize that I live in a state of abundance compared to most on the planet, and I try not to take it for granted.

And so while my income is smallish these days, I feel rich in many things, including time. I work from home and make my own hours, which allows for sleeping in, dressing comfortably, taking walks in nature, and running errands leisurely. I also feel fulfilled by the work that I do as a writer and teacher. I have a husband and family who love me, and cherished friends with whom I can share the good, the bad and the ugly. While these things alone put me in the lucky camp, I also get a 20% family discount at Whole Foods Market, my version of Bergdorf Goodman. Ch-ching!

Curious to know what was making others feel rich these days, I asked. Most who responded to my query echoed my appreciation for family, friends, good food, pets, and natural delights like trees, sunsets, dragonflies, and a night sky thick with stars. One friend said, “I like who I’ve become in recent years,” while another feels enriched by “clarity, mutuality, partnership, and learning.” A former student says she feels wealthy when she orders whatever she wants from the menu, including dessert, without sweating the bill.

“The thing I’m most grateful for these days is all the spiritual teaching I’ve received over the years,” says a new acquaintance. “It’s been a reliable friend through some tough times and always something I can count on.” Others said they find tremendous value in feeling seen and validated, connecting to people with similar interests, donating to the local food bank, expressing their creativity, experiencing synchronicity, being there for someone in need, and enjoying art and music.

Comforting pleasures made the list, too, including fresh sheets, warm beds, purring cats, belly laughs, home-canned goods, home cooked meals, long distance calls, fireplace fires and cuddling. One friend appreciates easy access to organic produce, while another luxuriates in “reaching for something to wear after all the laundry is washed, dried, and put away.”

Good health makes many feel rich, including me. Last month I watched my dear friend Tom lose a noble battle with cancer at the young age of 50. While it was a sobering, terrible loss, those of us who companioned him during his last days actually felt gratitude—not only for our own health, but also for the chance to be included in his passage. For months, members of Tom’s spiritual community came forth to offer him support, prayers, sacred chants, and loving presence. Many of us remarked about how rich in community he was—in life and in death.

“My yogic breath makes me feel full of life,” my sister-in-law reports. “There is nothing like a deep, sweet sip of healing breath to make me feel blessed.” I agree with her, and with a fellow writer friend who says, “I love the feeling I get when I write without effort…and sometimes I am just blown away by the fact that I can see and hear and have a home to rest in.”

Whether or not you’re feeling abundant and giving thanks this week, consider these words from writer/astrologer Rob Brezsny, who notes that, no matter what’s troubling you, “Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up.”

Including the fact that you can read this right now, while many lack literacy. Give thanks. Feel rich.

This essay was also published at www.jasminbalance.com/rethinking-rich/

 

 

24 thoughts on “Rethinking Rich

  1. Hey Kim, will you read this as our thanksgiving blessing on thurs,? I’d be honored.
    No one will say it any better than that. Thanks Kim for once again reminding us what we all should be truly grateful for 🙂 xoxo

  2. Dear Kim,
    This is so beautifully written. You brought a bright ray of light and hope into my sad, scared, and contracted heart. It’s the best I have felt in many days! And Thank You for a beautiful reflection on Tom’s final chapter. I’m so glad you were a part of it.
    Love, Beth

  3. Beautiful sharing of such wonderful and centering thoughts and we are all Pilgrims on the Path! Thank you so much for reminding us of these glorious gifts we all can say we share, and have made us RICH! I’m so THANKFUL for YOU …my dear, dear niece. Happy Thanksgiving….XOXO

  4. Thanks, Kim, for daring to dream abundantly, and finding your way onto your path where you can inspire others. The safe community you have created in our AW group and delight in the path bring me to gratitude, a relief for my sore heart. Thanks for this blog and sharing it and yourself with us.

  5. Your words expressed what is in my heart. Our family has had what many would consider a very trying year. With whatever stars it took to align to create my family, the love and support we constantly give each other throughout the years (be it for better or worse) makes me feel like the luckiest person on earth. True riches come from the glow from within…all the best.

  6. My life is more rich after reading your blog. My life is more rich with wonderful friends like you and Laye. For this alone, I am truly blessed. Namaste!

  7. Exquisite! I was feeling down and frustrated by so many things in my life. This made me stop and think about all the good things and realize that I, too, am rich.

  8. LOVE it Kim – you have such a gift for writing – love that Shauna wants to use this as a Thanksgiving blessing – what an honor. I feel rich to have you as my oldest – as in longest-lasting – friend!! (:

  9. My monetary riches are long gone but my life is rich with good friends and family. I enjoy your inspiring words Kim and wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

  10. Kim,

    Another beautiful article, ringing very true and deep. We are rich in so many ways—these are the things that give our life real meaning and fulfillment.

    Happy gratitude day.

    Lynn

  11. Kim, I resonate with all those riches your friends and family shared with you, and most importantly, the spiritual teachings I’ve had over the last 13 years. The deepening of my revelation of Grace and the thinning of the membranes between me and others – and life in general – has quite literally transformed me to let the inner Light shine brighter. Thank you for a lovely piece that reminds us all of our goodness and that of others. Happy Thanksgiving!

  12. Great post, Kim!
    I feel rich because I am doing work that I love, I make my own hours and I have a community of people around the world who value what I do.

    I feel rich because I have a loving husband who supports me in reaching my highest potential. I have a close-knit extended family – on both sides. I have friends that I’ve known since childhood and we still get together through-out the year. I could go on and on. It’s not what you have, it’s how you feel about what you have that makes all the difference. I feel very blessed!

  13. Thank you again, dear Kim, for calling us to bring our attention to our bounty during this time of giving thanks. We all know that gratitude is the antidote to suffering, yet it seems so hard to remember. Today I offer thanks for you and for your leadership in our community. Much love!

  14. Great article Kim. I feel blessed by having my computer work, enjoying the warmer weather, having great friends, a nice car, plenty of great groups I belong to, singing in The Family Folk Chorale, loving my work, writing books and looking forward to drawing and painting. Herb

  15. Kim, Thanks again for sharing such a wealth of caring. I recently received news that a good friend’s wife has a rare and deadly disease. It just strikes me to the core that something so difficult could happen to such a young person. Today I just needed to read something uplifting and so took the time to read your story. My heart now feels open again and so appreciative of all I have in my life. Love, Linda

  16. Kim, What a wonderful reminder – how many different expressions of “rich” there are.
    I know that I am immensely excited, delighted, and thankful when my creativity kicks in and I know I am in synch with the universe – again. Talk about RICH!
    Thanks for bringing your thoughts to us…Love, Mary

  17. I love this post, especially the last line:“Thousands of things go right for you every day, beginning the moment you wake up.”…. It’s so easy to focus on what goes wrong or on our hurdles and challenges, and to take the million blessings for granted. I aim to continue writing a daily gratitude list and appreciate the precious twinkles of so many gifts you listed in this post. Thank you!

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