What is wealth, anyway?

WITH more and more media focus being on unemployment, poverty, the global financial crisis and how long it all might last for, it seems like now is a good time instead to be thinking about wealth and what it means.
According to the latest research by George Kinder of the Kinder Institute in the United States, how you think about wealth and your relationship to it, is probably the biggest factor in determining how wealthy you'll be - at least, financially.
The federal government has made many changes to taxation and Medicare entitlements, defining wealthy couples as those who earn more than $150,000 per year. Yet with the high cost of housing and education in Sydney, for example, while higher than average this income would still not allow a family with three children pay the average mortgage for an average house in any of the top 20 suburbs in Sydney.
So what number is important? Does a joint income of more than $150,000 make a couple wealthy, or would it take more or even less? Is the number even important when it comes to defining wealth?
A few years ago I directed a segment for a television pilot in which my friend Shelley Skyes interviewed a successful actor, a successful businessman and Edward de Bono. All three were asked what wealth meant to them and if money was important.
Strangely, they all provided similar answers. They decided they were "wealthy" first and then the money followed, rather than the other way around, and they did not focus on a number or money. They focused instead on what wealth meant to them and how happy they were that they felt wealthy.
To each of them, wealth meant different things. To the actor, wealth meant the fact he was living his dream and that he loved his job; better jobs and money then flowed from that. To the businessman, wealth meant he was happy he was really putting people first at his company and was thrilled that he got to watch people grow and succeed, then money flowed.
Edward de Bono had pure joy in his eyes when he said he was very happy with his life and felt grateful and wealthy for the simple joys life brought him. He also seemed to like helping others think differently, expanding their minds, maybe even allowing them to experience the joy he had. He specifically said it was never about money. He felt wealthy first and then the money flowed towards him. It was strange because I thought when these people were interviewed they would tell us their wealth secrets and it would be all about investments and goals. But it seems the secret to wealth is to be really grateful for what you have, while doing what you truly enjoy.
The fantastic thing about this is, anyone can do it now.
Virginia Graham is a mortgage broker for Model Mortgages.

Your say: What do you think, is wealth a decision? Email us on openline@bauer-media.com.au

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