April 1

Today's quotation:

Wealth consists not in having great possessions,
but in having few wants.

Epictetus

Today's Meditation:

I know many people who are quite wealthy; I know very few people who consider themselves to be wealthy.  Personally, while I know that having more money would allow me to do more things and have more things, I also know that I have more possessions, better food, better access to services that I can afford, and a slew of better other things, than probably 95% of the people who have ever lived on this planet.  I am incredibly wealthy in terms of how the human race has lived since its inception, but if I were to focus on what I don't have and what I can't do, that wealth would mean very little.

And I've become even more wealthy as I've gotten older and have fewer wants.  I've learned to be satisfied with very few things, and that satisfaction is much more valuable to me than any material goods could be.  Most of the things that people are trying to sell us are out there so that others can make a profit, not because they're necessary to us.  It's difficult in this age of extensive marketing to hold on to our satisfaction, when ad after ad tells us we need more to be happy, but it certainly isn't impossible to do.

If I wake up in the morning and I have plenty to eat--food that I like, even--and I'm in a safe home, then I'm wealthy.  If I have friends that I can connect with and spend time with, I'm wealthy.  If I have work that helps me to pay the bills and even go on vacation now and then, then I'm wealthy.  If there are people who care about me and who actually like to spend time with me, then I'm wealthy.

The trick is to realize that we are, indeed, wealthy, and enjoy that fact while we're able to enjoy it.  The universe has given us much wealth, and it's our duty to respect it and enjoy it rather than consider it to be not enough to make us happy.

Questions to consider:

Where do most of our ideas about wealth come from?  Why do we accept them?

How might we help others to recognize just how wealthy they are?

Why do so many people who have tons of stuff consider themselves not to be wealthy?

For further thought:

Real wealth does not depend on worldly status or a bank balance.  It is available in the sweeping cloud formations above you, the soft grass under your bare feet, the light in your children’s eyes, and your funny cat. If we could realize the depth and extent of the gifts we have already been given, we would attain heights of ecstasy that collecting stuff will never achieve.

Alan Cohen
The Tao Made Easy
  

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