Understanding The Genuine Meaning Of Wealth

In life, people strive for many goals and achievements. Various goals that people may yearn for include graduating school, landing that dream job, or becoming wealthy and famous. Today, becoming wealthy is a common goal that everyone may wish to achieve. The concept of wealth can mean differently to other people. For some people, it is having a nice home to live in, a luxurious car to drive around town, a sufficient bank balance to meet all expenses, and more than enough money to see through life after retirement. In other mindsets, it is living a lavish lifestyle with tons and tons of money at their disposal. Each person has their own specific idea of what wealth means. This common notion of wealth probably arises from their idea of what they would do if they had all the money in the world. Although, there exist many different meanings of wealth, the actual meaning of wealth can be found through various English dictionaries such as the Cambridge Dictionary. For instance, wealth simply means to have a large amount of money or valuable possessions. It is important for people to set aside the monetary values of wealth and look deeper into the topic in order to understand the true meaning. Economist, Mark Anielski, has developed a system called genuine wealth that sets the rules and guidelines of how to determine wealth beyond its monetary position. The genuine wealth systems combines five different components of wealth that include human, social, natural, built, and financial wealth. Learning and understanding genuine wealth is important for society because this system can help people enjoy life for meaningful relationships and experiences, instead of always evaluating life in materialistic ways.

To fully understand what genuine wealth really means, we must analyze what it means to be genuine. Author and economist, Mark Anielski, composed an article explaining the depths of the genuine wealth system. Anielski starts off by defining the word genuine. For a person to truly be genuine, they must believe in their values. Thus genuine wealth refers to the state of well-being that is true to our core values. The concept of genuine wealth can be applied to anyone such as ourselves, our families, friends, workplace and to our community.

One of the components that people tend to overlook when determining value in things is human wealth. In the book, “The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth”, written by economist, Mark Anielski, he generally describes human wealth as the knowledge, skills, competencies, and other attributes of each individual that facilitates the creation of personal, social, and economic well-being. These qualities may include a person’s mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health. A person is considered generally wealthy or happy when they acquire a healthy balance of these core assets or capabilities. All of these unique assets of humans can be exercised through our will power and work ethic in pursuing our vision and dreams.

This sense of personal wealth can be traced back to many teachings from philosophy. For example, the famous transcendentalist philosopher, Henry David Thoreau once said that, “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life. ' Another well known philosopher, Edmond Burke, once stated the words of wisdom, “If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free. If our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed. ' Their inspiring words seem to support the notion that true wealth can also be discovered through emotional and personal happiness as well.

The second level of obtaining genuine wealth is social wealth. Social wealth is the value of relationships that a person can gain from interactions with others. By definition, social wealth equates to the relationships, networks and norms that facilitate connections with others that include such things as social cohesion and informal institutional arrangements. This tier of genuine wealth also refers to intangible qualities that can be brought out in other people such as trust, networks, shared responsibility, reciprocity, and a sense of belonging in a community. These can also be called social resources and connections. According to author, S. P. Mast, these social connections can be defined in people who you interact with on a daily basis such as family, friends, relatives, or co workers. Depending on the person or group, these connections can come in different values and each can contribute a various amount to a person’s social wealth. Furthermore, these connections can grow to make a positive or negative impact on the person. You can love interacting with specific people, while hate interacting with another. The people that you dislike to interact with, actually are similar to a social debt and subtract from a person’s total social wealth. Net social wealth is calculated by subtracting the total amount of negative connections from the positive connections.

Additionally, social wealth is also utilized to fulfill emotional necessities such as security and belonging. Being part of the larger group through social connections allows a person to feel much larger than our individual selves. Much rather similar to feeling a sense of belonging and purpose within a group. Since humans have an ability to interact and communicate with others, some of our biological systems have evolved to maintain social connections. The satisfaction of these systems give a person a sense of happiness and completion. Further reasons on why social wealth is essential to understand and differentiate from monetary wealth is that by being socially aware of these ideas, a person can become more confident, physically and emotionally. The purpose of social wealth comes in two main ideas. The first idea is to meet the ongoing emotional necessities. Daily interactions with the people around you can help provide this. If a person mostly interacts with people that are valuable to them and have positive feelings towards them, then these interactions can result in the satisfaction of feeling emotionally well. The next idea is to provide confidence in the ability to meet emotional needs later on in the future. The more social wealth a person accumulates, the more secure they feel about meeting their emotional expectations in the future and in times of emotional distress. This allows that person to live confidently and improve their overall quality of life.

Moving on to more tangible assets of genuine wealth, the next level is natural wealth. Natural wealth are the resources or environmental assets and systems that provide humanity with nature’s materials and services that are vital to economic well being. These include environmental resources such as forests, soils, oil, natural gas, or coal and minerals. Ecosystem services such as water and climate regulation are also considered when calculating natural wealth. While natural wealth is freely provided by nature, it is perhaps the most important form of wealth because the world cannot survive without having a healthy environment. Some real life examples of people having immense natural wealth can be if they own a vast amount of property or land.

Another economic component of genuine wealth is built wealth or manufactured wealth. Built wealth includes all things that have been made or manufactured, combining both human and natural wealth including equipment, factories, tools, buildings and other physical infrastructure. To create a piece of built wealth, a person must invest in their human wealth such as their time and labour. Parts of natural wealth are also integrated such as environmental resources such as land. Manufactured capital contributes to a person’s overall economic well-being by providing the structure and shelter leading to an active and stable lifestyle. Manufactured components include private and public buildings such as homes, household appliances, cars, factories, hospitals, schools and roads. Advanced technology, designs, and new ideas are also included in providing built wealth. A person can achieve immense built wealth by owning several companies, buildings, or being the inventor and creator of a new device.

The final and most common known tier of genuine wealth is financial wealth. Financial wealth is essentially money or anything calculated in monetary terms including cash, savings, and investments. This includes debt, mortgages, real estate, loans, and several other things that are deemed valuable in terms of financial reasons. Most money surrounding the modern economies is in the form of debt or financial liabilities to which people are charged with an owed amount or interest charges. The most basic and easy method to calculate a person’s financial wealth is by subtracting their assets from their liabilities, which results in their total net worth. Individuals in society who may have a high financial wealth include people with a high status or rank, such as celebrities, influencers, doctors, and many more highly acclaimed professions.

The genuine wealth system has developed in order to align our values and principles as a community with the actual conditions of our well being, including personal, professional, spiritual, environmental and financial. The five levels of genuine wealth, human, social, natural, built, and financial, all combine together in order to achieve a new understanding and perspective in a person’s journey throughout their life. The genuine wealth system provides an alternative to the typical economic growth and accounting models because it accounts for valuable things in life other than materialistic objects. Differentiation between the various meanings of wealth is crucial because it allows people to objectively assess their strengths and weaknesses for developing their own success and happiness in life. Genuine wealth is about getting in touch with all the things that make life worthwhile. The many diverse meanings of wealth can open up new opportunities and chances for others to redefine and discover their genuine wealth.

31 October 2020
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