"What is wealth?
In the conventional sense, when we say someone is "wealthy", it implies this person has lots of money in his/her bank account. But wealth, in its essence, expresses something much deeper about reality: the well-being. It begins with essential basic material needs that every human being has a right to access: food, clean water, health, clothing, shelter, education... Humans also need wealth at the immaterial level: love, care, free time, art, beauty, acknowledgment, self-development...
Another way to put it: wealth is whatever brings us closer to what is true, good and beautiful.
What are the different forms of wealth?
There are 3 forms of wealth: tradable, measurable, acknowledgeable. Each one is a subset of the other one. All of these together we call integral wealth.
- Tradable wealth: food, time, energy, services, material resources...
- Measurable wealth: performance, sustainability, physiological health, quality...
- Acknowledgeable wealth: fun, love, care, trust, beauty..."
We need to expand our conception of wealth
"What if we’re missing out on most of the wealth that could be available to us because of the way that we measure and perceive wealth? How does our understanding of wealth shape our ability to create healthy families, neighborhoods, communities, economies, and the planet? Let’s explore how the way that we measure wealth results in unhealthy patterns and see if we can uncover healthier alternatives. What is Wealth?
Wealth is often defined as the accumulation of resources or the productive output of the land and labor of the society. Your wealth is the resources you’ve amassed from such production. Typically, it isn’t even resources, but the balances of our bank accounts, retirement accounts, stock certificates and titles to our homes that we count as wealth. What makes this strange is that we have let wealth become symbols and numbers (which are also symbols) instead of the tangible assets and experiences which give us a particular quality of life.
What about physical fitness, supportive relationships, trusted neighbors, beautiful surroundings, healthy food, drinkable water, breathable air and fulfilling work? These things never show up on a balance sheet of personal or corporate net worth. So in our quest to accumulate wealth, true value has been overlooked.
Wealth” comes from the same root as “wellness.” Yet, our current relationship to wealth seems to be all about accumulation. Accumulation is not wealth in the very same way that cancer is not health. In order to build deeper wealth, akin to wellness, we need to make the health of our systems visible so we can nourish them. Ironically, symbols and measurements are exactly the tools we use to make things visible in a social context. However, we need measures which better connect us to the means to nourish systems at all levels.
Let’s look at one aspect of YOU for a brief illustration of these dimensions of systems and wealth. In the Parts & Products dimension, the blood that your body produces is a separable part or product that you can trade or donate. Your blood type is a property or characteristic of you as a system which can be measured, but never traded. Your blood pressure is part of the performance of you as a system. Your overall cardo-vascular health illustrates the dimension of relationships (including arterial integrity, cholesterol levels, heart muscle health, etc.). Your ability change your diet and exercise to increase your cardio-vascular health is part of the dimension of Possible Wealth.
Traditional approaches to measuring wealth reduce all of that depth to pints of blood, because they’re the only thing in the whole list that is tradable. You can see how much of the larger and deeper picture this misses. " ()