“We Can All Be Rich,” proclaims the March 2010 issue of Reader’s Digest. There’s a huge assumption in that statement, namely that everyone actually wants to be rich. Of course, questioning that assumption in our all-too-often greedy Western culture is borderline insane. The only thing you’ll see more of than get-rich-quick schemes are people trying to follow them.
Do you desire to be rich? If yes, how rich? Do you have a target, or will wealth perpetually be defined for you as “more than I have now” regardless of how fat your bank account becomes? I suspect that the desire to be rich and the feeling of dissatisfaction are frequently wed together.
It turns out that the Reader’s Digest article about being rich is not so much about amassing financial wealth as it is about building one’s reputation. Entrepreneur Austin Hill is convinced that “once you attain a certain level of wealth, more money will not make you happier. This is where a person’s reputation comes in. In this world of future abundance [as predicted by Mr. Hill], it will be social capital, not money, that will matter most.”
I wonder if Mr. Hill has it backwards. Perhaps having a good reputation will bring you happiness even before you attain “a certain level of wealth” (which is not calculated in the article). Maybe a well deserved reputation of generosity will be the secret to your contentment regardless of how much money you have – financial generosity, but also generosity of goodwill, of kindness, of spirit. Once you’ve got that down, maybe you’ll find yourself rich beyond belief regardless (and maybe even worry-free) of what’s in your bank account.