Your Life is Extravagant

Published by Thriving Erin on

 

I currently live in the richest country in the world (per capita) so I have had the opportunity to observe extravagance in a way I never imagined. Spending millions of dollars for a specific phone number, or purchasing a gold-plated iPhone for your child are not things I can relate to. I make a fraction of what some others make and can’t imagine justifying those costs.

 

But here’s the thing, within this same country there are foreign workers brought in from developing countries who make a fraction of what I make. Spending a thousand dollars on a new iPhone or thousands of dollars on a gas-guzzling Jeep are not things they can relate to. They look at my life and see extravagance. They now observe extravagance in a way they never imagined.

 

Almost without exception, no matter where you find yourself in life, there will always be someone way richer than you and there will always be some one way poorer than you. We get so focused on those with more than us that we forget how many people have less than us.

 

We like to look at those with more than us and criticize them. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard comments like:

 

“How can they spend that much money on product x? Do you know how many people they could help with that money?!”

 

Why is it always someone else’s responsibility to help others? If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you have spent money on things that other people can’t imagine. If I look at my life, do you know how many people I could help if I:

  • Sold my Jeep and took the bus to work
  • Lived in a smaller apartment and for half the rent
  • Didn’t travel for holidays

 

Or if I did smaller things like:

  • Bought fewer clothes
  • Ate out at restaurants less often

 

We love to criticize “the rich,” but too often forget how rich we all are compared to many others in this world. If you’re reading this on a computer or phone that you own, there’s a good chance that your life would be considered to be extravagant by someone else.

 

It’s not a bad thing to have money and this isn’t a criticism about how we choose to spend it. But before we are critical of those we consider rich, I think it’s important for us to shift our perspective and realize that perhaps the responsibility to help others is not just on those richer than us. Maybe it’s on all of us, maybe we’re all blessed so we can be a blessing to others.

 

 

Categories: Musings

4 Comments

Steven Thompson · June 11, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Such a great and thoughtful piece! I like how you challenge assumptions and categorical thinking. It made me draw some new conclusions, you can sell your Jeep and move into a small apartment but that isn’t a direct cause and effect relationship to helping people. Helping people involves getting your hands dirty and spending time with people , you don’t have to be rich or poor to sit with someone and listen. I also like the focus on thinking about our own wealth as well. I like the honesty of your writing ! Thanks for the post!

Maria · June 11, 2019 at 5:30 pm

Hi Erin, I enjoyed the tone of your writing and the structure of your post. You gave us a view of all different sides. I call it this skill Zoom Out that helps us develop a worldview beyond our unique life and experience. I would love to know more about how you developed the ability that leads to this broader perspective. I enjoyed it very much that you asked real questions and made suggestions about how we can all contribute. Thank you.

Courtney · June 11, 2019 at 2:57 pm

Hi Erin! This was my favorite line, “We love to criticize “the rich,” but too often forget how rich we all are compared to many others in this world.” I like that you challenge us to reconsider our idea of rich and point the finger back at ourselves. I also like that you reassured us that just because this is so, it doesn’t mean we need to panic about our ways. I think you’d enjoy the book “Factfulness,” the author does a great analysis of what “poor” actually is, and what is enough for people to live “happily.” It’s fascinating and bodes well to your perspective here.

Tamara · June 11, 2019 at 4:43 am

I liked this one, Erin. I felt like you gave us a look inside as you wrestled with these ideas. And it made me feel less alone, because I’ve had similar wrestlings.
It would be interesting to see an interactive visual representation of where different people sit on the “richness” graph. So we could see just how high up we are, as compared to others. I’m envisioning hovering over the graph and different profiles of famous and regular people from all over the world would pop up and tell a bit of their story. I don’t know why I thought about that.
Ultimately, I think you’re talking about having an abundance mindset as opposed to a scarcity one. That when you feel like you have all that you need and more and that you’ll continue to have what you need, it’s easy to share what you have with others. I’m sure a lot goes into whether we have an abundance or scarcity mindset, including how we’re brought up, life events, and general disposition. I wonder if there’s a correlation between “richness” and whether you have abundance or scarcity mindset? What do you think?

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