Commentary and Photos by Steve Gentile
The idea of prosperity seems pretty simple – at least at first glance. To some it means having a lot, or having all we want, or even having what we need, right? It boils down to a lot of catch phrases we’ve heard throughout the years – “make a living,” “doing well,” “well to do,” or maybe “living large.” So why does so much research indicate that people of high incomes are by no means any happier than people with less? And as we move about our lives, in our home city or a distant one, we see that despite media stereotypes to the contrary, poor people in many less developed parts of the world are far more cheerful, open, and relaxed than we are here.
More questions arise: Why does certain work just feel good, whatever the pay? Why do some successful business dealings make us happy? Why do some fail to make us happy? Why does it feel so good to give a gift?
Taking a deeper look, it becomes clear that prosperity is actually about the mindset. As many wise people have pointed out, we need to create a space for abundance in our minds – the mentality of prosperity. The foundation of that is feeling a sense of appreciation and contentment with what we already have, and the confidence of what we can do.
So how does prosperity develop if we cultivate the proper mindset? How does it come to us? Or how do we come to it? This may sound old school but prosperity arrives as diligence. And that often means hard work, no matter how you slice it. It doesn’t come (or not usually anyway) in the proverbial fat check in the mail. It is the enthusiasm to do what’s needed, the discernment to know what’s needed, and of course the effort to actually do it.
Still, the motivation behind the diligence can get complicated. We all know we have to earn money, but at the same time what we do to make money can often be tenacious, dangerous, or even frustrating. Finding the work that feels right and pays decent money is not always easy. Often the work that feels good doesn’t accomplish this. In any case, the good feeling that comes from something meaningful is the simple pleasure of just getting something done. And the effect that accomplishment has on our world.
So hats off to everyone who’s volunteering in the community, doing nonprofit work, working for the dream business, or just helping a friend in need. Equally, hats off to those who are working a tough job, day after day, year after year, just to make a decent life for themselves and their families. Like I said, diligence is the root of prosperity.
It’s interesting to note that once we are willing to go that extra mile of diligence, it opens up the possibility of really doing the right thing ethically too. Why? Because doing the right thing often takes some extra work. And the interesting thing about ethical dealings is that they build trust. Many have seen how a network of mutually trusting people, a true community, is really going to be the most precious asset of all, the most precious prosperity, in difficult economic times.
Giving a gift – big or small – feels good. It’s a prosperity moment. And generosity is the reward of prosperity. But, it’s also the test. It’s the reward because being able to give obviously means having something to give. It’s the test because we need to be able to let go of what we’re giving. Generosity is also part of doing things that impact all of us. Like buying from a local merchant, or maybe using something more energy efficient, or maybe buying something more expensive but hand crafted by a local artist. Why not just think of it as generosity to your neighbors and future generations.
If we really reflect on all this, we could find a way of living in which abundance for ourselves supports prosperity for everyone. No, I haven’t said it’s easy. But it is simple. And it’s certainly worth the effort. Living this way brings together three vital forces – diligence, ethics, and generosity.