If you had to classify yourself as high, middle, or low income, where would you put yourself? What’s you’re immediate thought? What steps would you take to go from poor to rich?
I’ve heard my oldest son exclaim at times,“Someday, I want to be rich!” Whenever one of my children says something like this, my response is always – “We are already rich.” To go from “poor” to “rich” we need to view our circumstances with global lenses, not just by what we see around us or on the media.
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Wanted: Mindset Shift
As I’ve discovered while decluttering and while budgeting, much of the work first needs to be done in the mind. There needs to be a shift in our mindset from “deprived” to “enough” – often “more than enough.”The simple secret to #wealth. #mindsetchange Click To Tweet
More than 8 years ago, I organized an OxFam America Hunger Banquet for our church. It’s an event that raises awareness of hunger and poverty around the world:
As guests enter the banquet, they draw tickets at random that assign each to a high-, middle-, or low-income tier—based on the latest statistics about poverty around the world. Each income level has a different experience. The 20 percent in the high-income tier are served a sumptuous meal; the 30 percent in the middle-income group eat a simple meal, like rice and beans; and the 50 percent in the low-income tier help themselves to small portions of rice and water….This event is a metaphor for how food and other resources are inequitably distributed in the world. –2015 Oxfam Toolkit Hunger Banquet
When we held the banquet, we set up a nice table with chairs, candles, and actual table settings for the high income tier. The middle income group had chairs to sit on and were served rice and beans with disposable items. The low income tier were told to sit on the floor and they were served large bowls of rice with banana leaves to eat the rice off of.
I was the MC so I wasn’t participating, but my husband was with our two young sons. My youngest son who was 4 at the time, came to me crying because he didn’t want to eat the rice and beans he was being served. He could see the people sitting at the table with ham and salad and couldn’t understand why he couldn’t have what they were having. “It’s not fair,” he cried.
No, it wasn’t fair, and that was exactly the point of the evening. That didn’t stop my heart from hurting for my young son who couldn’t understand. He was hungry and he wanted something good to eat.
I remember thinking of the mamas all over the globe who were in similar circumstances with crying hungry children, but with no other resources to feed their families. I knew I could go home and make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son and he would be content.
The Joy of Less
I recently finished The Joy of Less by Francine Jay. I particularly enjoyed the first part of the book because she emphasizes mindset shifts. She encourages the reader to cultivate an attitude of gratitude and appreciating the abundance of what we already have. She writes:
We simply need to to focus on what we have, rather than what we don’t have. If we’re going to make comparisons, we have to look globally, as well as locally; we have to look down the ladder, as well as up. Even the poorest of First World families are rich by Third World standards. So while we may feel deprived relative to the more affluent in our own country, we’re living like royalty compared to many others around the world. – Chapter 9, The Joy of Enough
The High Income Tier – Not What You Expect
Her book reminded me of the Hunger Banquet. The high income tier represents the 20 percent of the world’s population with the highest per capita income. You are considered in the high income tier if:
- You earn a minimum income of just $6,000 a year.
- You have a nutritious daily diet.
- You have access to the best medical care in the world.
- It’s a given that your children will attend school; the only uncertainty is how many years they will study after high school.
- You and your family probably live in a comfortable and secure home.
- You may even own at least one car and two televisions.
- When you take your annual vacation, you don’t worry about your job disappearing in your absence.
- You have access to virtually everything you need and the security to enjoy it.
From Poor to Rich
Does that sound like you? It certainly sounds like us. Our income was recently cut by over 50% in my husband’s recent career change. There are days when I’m tempted to whine and complain that we are “poor.” I have to remind myself to think globally, not just locally. Most of the people I know are also “rich” like us.
Jay mentions a book called Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel, which helps us get a global perspective on what a “statistically average family” in that nation owns. There are 30 families from 30 nations photographed with all their possessions. You can see samples of the photographs online here. I plan to check out the book from our library and go through it with my children.
It reminded of the powerpoint that was created for our Hunger Banquet. This powerpoint showed a typical weeks worth of food and the amount of money spent in varying countries around the world. It is eye opening. Ironically, while I was searching to give credit to the images, I found out that the images are from the same author – Peter Menzel! The photos are from Hungry Planet: How the World Eats, or Doesn’t. Due to copyright issues, I didn’t want to repost the photos we used here, but here is a sample of the photos here.
It takes looking up and down the ladder, as Jay encourages us, to realize that we have more than enough. We are overflowing in riches. We just need to realize it. The secret to going from “poor” to “rich” in one day is to view your circumstances from a global perspective.
“He who knows he has enough is rich.”
– Lao Tzu, Chinese Philosopher
How would you classify yourself now after reading this post? Did it change?
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