When I was a 17-year-old Senior in High School, one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Hickman, was educating my classmates and I on the differences between being rich and being wealthy. It was the first time I had ever heard anything like that, so as you can imagine, I became completely enthralled in the discussion. For the longest time, I thought being rich and being wealthy were the same thing. But come to find out, I was sorely misinformed.
Over the course of the next 10+ years, I watched Mr. Hickman’s teaching play out in my own life time and time again. His words continuing to reverberate in my mind… “The goal is to attain wealth, not riches.” Mr. Hickman was one of the first people in my life to try and unplug me from the matrix. And as I really began to use my eyes for the first time and my vision became adjusted, I found myself trying to enlighten others to the same truths that were revealed to me.
As is common when trying to disrupt the status quo, those that were “conditioned” in their thinking resisted my efforts fervently. But despite their discomfort with the truth, it remained the truth nonetheless. And the truth is that one of the biggest misconceptions in society today is the belief that being rich and being wealthy are the same thing. Yes, by definition, the terms are quite synonymous. Yet, in reality, they carry two very different connotations. If you’re having the “huh” face right now, just bear with me. I plan on explaining in detail what I mean.
If you look up “rich” in the dictionary, you’ll find that it most commonly means having abundant money, possessions, or material wealth. If you look up “wealth” in the dictionary, you’ll find that it most commonly means to be characterized by or marked by abundance; specifically the abundance of things of value. I want to focus on the word “value” for a second. Because within it lies the differential upon which this entire article is based.
When you break the two terms down to their base, being rich is about accumulating a lot of stuff. While being wealthy is about what it is that you value. To get to the heart of that, I want you to ask yourself a series of questions. And take your time with these questions, so you can get to the heart of who you really are. The first question is, what is it that you value? And the second question is, why is it that you want to accumulate a lot of money? There’s a third question as well, but we’ll come back to that one later.
When I asked myself these questions, I came to find that I value God (my faith), time, freedom, peace of mind, relationships (familial or friendly), legacy, and happiness. And with the exception of God and relationships, deep down I believed that having more money could bring me all of these things. And I truly believe that the same could be said for most people. We really think that money and stuff will make or bring us happiness. No matter how many times some rich person comes back and tells us this is simply not true.
What I’ve discovered is that money, to an extent, can bring you those things that you hope for. But it is not the end all, be all. There is no universal law or principle which provides that a massive bank account is a prerequisite to more happiness, time, peace of mind, freedom, etc… I mean think about it, there are people who have all the time in the world, and no money. Then there are people who have all the money in the world, but no time to enjoy it. Likewise there are people who have it all and are miserable. Then there are people who have very little, and are overjoyed on a regular basis.
The apostle Paul, when writing to the Philippians, made mention of being content no matter your situation. I like to take it a step further and say be content, no matter your circumstance, but never satisfied. The key to attaining those things that you desire is to start exercising those things now. What do I mean by that? What I mean is that you can have happiness, time, peace of mind, etc… right now, using only what you currently have at your disposal. All it takes is a decision.
Everything you have or don’t have in life is a direct result of your thought life and your choices. You may have heard me say before, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it.” And I say it often, because it’s true. When your circumstances are less than ideal, choose to focus on those things you do have, instead of those things you don’t. When life throws you curveballs, choose to focus on ways you can do something about it instead of excuses/reasons why you can’t. The operative word here is “choose.”
Choose to be happy no matter the situation. I had to learn that I am responsible for my own happiness, not anything or anyone else. If you choose to believe that something or someone else controls your happiness, you give the power over to that person or thing. Word of advice… hold on to your power.
Likewise, choose to make time for those things you enjoy. The number one complaint I get from people is, “I’m too busy.” Again, you are responsible for your own time allotment. Not anything or anyone else. If your schedule is too full, learn to say “no.” Don’t take on anything that is not directly related to your purpose or your health or your enjoyment. The key here is balance.
When people ask me to take on some responsibility that I’m not too keen on, I politely decline and let them know that I highly value my time and don’t want to over-obligate myself. And I urge you to do the same. Take “being busy” down off that high pedestal. Because a lot of activity doesn’t necessarily equate with productivity. The goal is to work smarter, not harder.
And speaking of working, if you find yourself having to work multiple jobs to maintain your lifestyle, then it may be time to examine your lifestyle. Are you living above your means? Do you have a lot of stuff that equates to wants instead of needs? Are you seizing opportunities to improve your station? Meaning, have you taken the time to educate yourself and make yourself more valuable to your current or potential employer? And I’m not just talking traditional schooling. I’m talking self-education as well.
I really want you to think on these things. As Joyce Meyer would say, “I want you to think about what you’re thinking about.” It’ll give you some clues as to why you are where you are. And it will also clue you in on where you’re heading.
I hate to say it, but this article went completely into left field. I’m sitting here with my outline right next to me. Yet I find myself rambling on about things I had no plans on discussing. But I guess this is what my spirit wanted to get across today. So I’m just going with the flow. I hope you can bear with me just a little while longer. Now that you have a full understanding of what I mean by exercising your wants today, let’s dig into the meat of this wealth versus riches thing.