I was talking with a patient a while back who told me she works as a wealth advisor. I hadn't heard this term before. I had heard financial advisor, but not wealth advisor. As I thought about it, I realized how much I like the term. I like how wealth advisor conveys a meaning of abundance.
This got me thinking about how:
- Wealth is a state of mind.
- One of the most health-promoting changes a person can make (in my opinion) is to choose a perspective of abundance, rather than scarcity.
Wealth is a state of mind.
Basically, if you see yourself as wealthy, then you are. Let me clarify -- I'm not just talking about money and material things here. I'm defining wealthy as having an abundance of things that are valuable to you -- not necessarily what our culture says is "valuable".
A Great Example
I work with a physician who was recently awarded a Humanitarian Relief Award in our community for work he has done with various refugee camps. There was a nice article written about him in our local newspaper. In the article he talked about how the refugees never seem to complain, despite living in very poor conditions (for example, he spent time in the Zaatari Camp, which is located in the middle of a desert with more than 100,000 people living in flammable tents).
He commented, "You ask them how they're doing, and they say, 'Thank God, we're doing good; we're blessed.'" He went on to say that, compared to the death and destruction they saw in Syria, "They're just happy to be alive and provide some sort of protection and safety for their families."
Talk about a wake-up call. Examples like this make me sad about the many precious moments in my own life that I've wasted by being too caught up in what I lack or want, rather than appreciating how truly fortunate I am.
A Healthy Perspective
Do you tend to have a mindset of abundance or scarcity? Many have written about this topic. I think it is a powerful concept to be aware of.
When we see through the lens of scarcity, we never seem to have enough. All we seem to recognize is what we're missing. Instead of appreciating all that we have, we are consumed by what we lack, and there is a quenchless thirst for more.
The perception of scarcity makes us feel as though there is "not enough to go around." The tendency is to grasp tightly and not be generous with others. We falsely believe that others' abundance somehow detracts from our own. This makes the world feel like a cold, dog-eat-dog kind of place.
On the other hand, when we see through the lens of abundance, we are truly grateful for what we have. We jump off the hamster wheel of "never enough," and we start to appreciate and take care of all the gifts that lie right in front of us. There is a greater sense of fulfillment and peace. We become more eager to give to others, knowing that there is "plenty to go around," and we find that this generosity provides even greater fulfillment.
These days I make a conscious effort to see through the lens of abundance, rather than scarcity. I'm not perfect at it, but I can tell you that this mindset leads to a more healthy way of living -- one where our relationships, our environment, and our bodies are better appreciated and better cared for.
An Amazing Gift
One of the biggest gifts we can appreciate is the gift of health. To quote the poet Virgil, "The greatest wealth is health." In our culture, we tend to rush to opportunities to make money. The American Dream is all about hard work leading to opportunities for prosperity and success. But we sell ourselves short when we narrowly equate prosperity and success with money.
What good is the money, the stuff, or the places if you don't have the health to enjoy them? A.J. Reb Materi said, "So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health." As a health care provider, I unfortunately see this too often.
Managing Our Wealth
After my encounter with the wealth advisor, I realized that our jobs are similar. Health care is not just about picking up the pieces when things go wrong, but also about helping people to manage one of their most precious assets -- their health.
How about you? How do you manage your "wealth"? Do you spend most of your time appreciating and taking care of the many gifts you've been given, or do you too often find yourself focused on what you lack and want? Are you running on the hamster wheel of "never enough"? Is this taking a negative toll on your health? If so, I would encourage you to try a perspective change. Consider how seeing through the lens of abundance might positively influence your health and well-being.
This post was originally published on October 11, 2016.