Jan 05

Although ‘wealthy’ or ‘rich’ are terms a lot of people would interpret entirely different, it usually means that you have a lot of money. A load of money. Tons of money. Or at least more money than the guy next door, your neighbour.

Global Wealth LevelsEven the United Nations had to evaluate in its latest study, what ‘rich’ actually means – globally speaking:

  • USD 500.000 are required to rank among the wealthiest 1% of the world’s people
  • Only 37 Millions of people live on this planet, with that level of wealth
  • 88.3% of the world’s wealth is in the hands of the citizen of the 24 richest countries
  • This represents only 14.8 % of the world’s population

Percentage of Wealthy CountriesThe charts show a bit more drastically than cold numbers, that only a small part of the world’s countries and population take part in this allocation of richness.

When I hear the word ‘wealthy’, I usually imagine a happy 50-60 year old guy with grey hair and a Rolls Royce or at least a Bentley in the double garage of his 2-storey house – with a tennis-court-big-yard right in front of it. The other car is of course a SUV or Cabriolet, right next to the the small City Hopper for the wife.

Why are we so obsessed with money and material things?

Most people don’t know and probably never learn, what they should do with their life. I understand that capitalism, competitive consumerism and the strive for money were the grease, that brought us on the road to progress and everlasting economical growth. With a few bumps along the way of course.

In most developed and developing countries, most people have an obsession with money and how to get hold of it. We all want to live the ‘American Dream’ globally. We are unhappy if we don’t have money, but even more so, if we have some. Then we want more! We have no choice! If we want to be part of the society, the system and obtain all the modern amenities we see on TV every day – we really don’t.

I’m not buying it!

Consume these products!We need to buy, consume and take part in all kinds of costly events and status-related nonsense. Escalating materialism. Keeping up with relatives and neighbours. Then the cycle turns further and more money is needed to keep the cycle going. There is a constant craving, the “hedonic treadmill”, as economists coined it. It gets you into debt or even faster into your grave. Our Governments want us to work longer and longer anyway. Tell them you want to get out and retire early and they will call you crazy. When is enough really enough?

Didn’t something get lost along the way?

When I see pepople in the US, Europe, Australia or countries like Japan, Malaysia, Thailand or Singapore striving for the “6 C’s”; that is Car, Cash, Career, Credit Card, Club Membership and Condominium, then I wonder what went wrong. Sometimes I really think, people have no serious goals in life, they are just living to get rich or watch TV.What defines a Happy Life? Is Competitive Consumerism really the only way to live ones life happily ever after?

Are we finally happy, if we have enough money, an apartment we own and a steady job, bringing us a 6-digit salary in cold, hard currency?

I wasn’t, but only found out after years of running around clueless in the so-called Rat Race. Traveling around the world opened my eyes somehow and luckily I found a way out. I don’t think, that getting out is what everyone wants, most people seem to be content with running the money cycle for life. They have ‘purchasable’ wishes and needs. Will they ever be able to live an Independent Life?

Happiness ahead? Which way?Is traveling an option to see in a different light what counts in life? Maybe not for most of my fellow countrymen, who like to travel year after year to the same beaches of Ibiza and Mallorca, crying and complaining, when the waitress doesn’t speak perfect German or their “Schnitzel” isn’t well-done, as it is at home.

And what could be done, to get more humanity back into this Cold, Competitive, Consuming World? Simple Living?

A New Year ahead and so many questions still open…


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written by Chris

24 Responses to “What does it mean to be wealthy? And will it lead us to happiness?”

  1. DanNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    Now might be a good time to ask a question I’ve been thinking about. So I ask you and all vagabonds, nomads, PT’s, etc who live this type of life which to me seems fairly individualistic (although in a good way) what is your opinion on charity? Do you give? Is it a responsability we all have if we are part of that 1%?

  2. CathNo Gravatar FRANCE Says:

    I saw a very interesting TV show last night with Yann Arthus Bertrand (this guy who shoots the earth from an Helicopter and exhibits now his pics all over the world) and he interviewed Madame Mitterand, the leader of France Libertés and widow of our former president in France.

    About a very beautiful peace of land (almost as large as France) situated in Brazil, the water reservoir of the whole area. Which had been subject to the greed of major companies wishing to exploit the forests, the soil (lots of mineral bounties) and she got the region protected by Unesco.

    She just said : one day, we will sleep on mattress of dollars but will not have pure water anymore…

    This says it all…

  3. CathNo Gravatar FRANCE Says:

    To Dan, I might say, it is not giving that is important, it is participating in an effort to change a world that does not make anybody very happy of themselves, including in the “rich” countries.

    The happiest people according to a recent poll are living in the Nordic countries where the sense of community is still very strong, and in some less priviledged countries for exactly the same reasons….

  4. DanNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:

    That is my feeling, I prefer to actually do something rather than just handing over money. But regardless of any happiness it brings or how we do it, is it a responasability the 1% has?

  5. Michael OwenNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Have just read your post, by chance. Most interesting. BUT, I know you can travel the world on nothing if you are young, healthy and no ties. How about if you are 75 years old like me, with loittle cash. Not so good. When I was in my thirtys I had over a quarter million pounds in cash stacked away, but I could not use it. If I had used it for anything, I would have ended up in jail. Why? See http://WWW.Amiabankrobber.blogspot.com. Am I telling the truth? Thats for you t o decide. Also what also strikes me about your post, and other blogs like Nomad4ever if you have nothing, how do you take a laptop etc to the far corners of the world, pay for internet access etc. God only knows, Internet cafes in North Wales where I live still charge 2 pounds an hoiur, BT openzone something like 8 pounds an hour. And you have dropped out of the rat race!!! I’m still in it at 75 and I cannot afford it in the U.K. I try to spend about four or five weeks in Goa each winter, not the really toiuristy spots, more the far North which is primitive but within half hours motorbike ride to where the touristys are. But I would.nt take my laptop there, I.ve even been robbed BY THE POLICE

  6. ChrisNo Gravatar INDONESIA Says:

    Thanks for all the comments! Just wanted to add that maybe the 1% of wealthiest persons (as mentioned in the post) isn’t necessarily the same like the Nomads + Vagabonds, roaming this world. ;-)

    I’m by no means part of the wealthiest, according to that study. Most Nomads aren’t neither. I guess most travel on next to nothing, as Michael put it. We are just happier with less. We don’t own cars, houses and other luxury items. I used to give to charity (The Red Cross) when I was younger, but stopped doing it.

    There is just too much corruption about charity organizations, when you look at it, be it the churches, ‘Bread for the World’, the Tsunami Aid or others.

    I prefer to support the people directly, by buying on the local markets, not the big franchises in the countries I travel. Although you can debate that as well, as the big companies provide jobs too.

    Which Charity Companies would you recommend and worth of giving to?

  7. Michael OwenNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Oh Oh Oh I’m getting hooked on this blogging. If I carry on like this i’ll have no time to play chess!!!! But, seeing as you asked, there is a charity in the north of Goa , no fancy offices, virtually no paid staff, but they are doing wonderful work in trying to reduce the numbers of stray dogs and cats which live, just about, in the tourist areas. Its name is International Animal Rescue http://www.iat.org.uk/ If you give them a pound, 99 pence will reach to the place you intended. Many years ago I was Treasurer of a branch of the RSPCA. Even in those days, 75pence in every pound went to pay salaries of staff who drove around in cars and never got out to touch an animal (probably ran over a few) Mike

  8. CathNo Gravatar FRANCE Says:

    Hi Chris > I blogrolled your site as “Envisager une vie ailleurs” in my top des blogs /
    It is worth the “money” ;)

    and “Hello to all of you here”, great readers of an excellent site :)

    The Charities I support?
    – Fondation Nicolas Hulot > http://www.fondation-nicolas-hulot.org/index.php
    – PETA > http://www.peta.org/
    – the French Society of Seeing-eye Dogs
    – The French Vets (same as the French doctors but for vets > farm animals in third world countries) > http://www.avsf.org/
    and “incidentally”:
    whenever the cause is just and I am needed / as much as I can do

    Some might say, this girl is very much involved with animal and environment related causes. Well, to each according to his/her inclinations and choices, as long as we share and help! :)

  9. Dumaguete Dreamin'No Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Very interesting map…it really shows the uneven distribution of resources in the world. Sadly, the U.S. probably throws away enough food each day to feed most of the countries in blue. We are such a wasteful place, I am ashamed to admit. It is taught from early on here that wealth is the path to happiness, but this path never leads to contentment. Greed can never be vanquised. It just grows and grows and benefits no one.

  10. notfearingchangeNo Gravatar CANADA Says:

    Hi there!

    First, thank you very much for adding me to your list.
    Second, I’m “uber-jealous” of where you are right now and would love to pack up my suitcase and get on a plane!

    I hear what you are saying in your post. I find the idea of calculating “happiness” into the GDP would throw the world upside down, quite ironic. ;-)

    Please check out my post if you have a chance regarding this: Happiness is….

    I’ll be back to read more of your insights on life and society.

  11. Elise Mark-WalterNo Gravatar FRANCE Says:

    What a clever and perspicacious article as your “slogan” : “Life is what you make it!”

    I wish like you a new year with a new vision about way of life and other definition of needs and goals in our life, not linked to money.

    ps : thank you for adding me. I’ll be back, me too, to read your very interesting blog. :)

  12. JennDZNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Yet another interesting post on Nomand4ever. I guess maybe I should become one? Eh? :)
    Actually here is the thing I am trying to figure out…I don’t have many possessions, if I did I would sell them. My fiancee and I got rid of most of what we had, to move to be closer to family. But we wnat to travel, learn the lessons the world has to teach….how do we do it? How do nomads find money to fund their travels? whay kinds of jobs do people have to be so flexible that they can make money, and then travel for extended periods of time. I have always wanted to be a nomad, but how does one transition?
    Personally I am wealthy in the most important thing: love.

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  17. allanBNo Gravatar PHILIPPINES Says:

    I really don’t consider my self wealthy. same here I really hated consumerism and materialism and fetishism of commodities. thats why I’m retiring early(I’m only 28) and planning to walk the face of the earth, with only a back pack on me. maybe this will make me happy for a change.

  18. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    allanB – thanks for the summary! That’s is exactly my philosophy as well. The only difference; I know it will make you happy! I was before stuck in the Rat Race and my life changed completely once I left that behind. The Happiness factor increased manifold, even though I was quite the positive and cheerful person already before.

    All the best for your plans! :D

  19. NoelNo Gravatar AUSTRALIA Says:


    i think we who live in “rat race” countires should not forget it was that “rat race” countries that have given us the opportunity to travel or retire early ……. and as an earlier poster mentioned what will you do if you get seriously ill/injured?? ….. jump on the first plane to a hospital in a “rat race” country ….

    ask any person who (happily) lives in a 3rd world country what choice they would make if given the opprotunity to live in a “rat race” country …..

  20. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Noel, how true! I’m 100% with you. That’s why I think you should use the Rat Race for your own advantage, not let the Rat Race use you. You only have one labor, your own. So either you make the most out of it, by selling it to the highest bidder (via working in a low-tax/high income country), open your own business (can be Online as well) or employ labor to multiply your income chances and find a way to retirement in a shorter time and before the 3rd heart attack.

    Definitely it is a huge difference to be serious ill in any “kampung hospital” in Indonesia or even India or in a 1st world country. So I agree, that this has to be part of your calculation, if it matters to you. To me it does. :D

  21. RyanNo Gravatar UNITED STATES Says:

    Hmm… working two jobs now… I think I’ll do this for the meantime and then, retire and travel the rest of the world!

  22. hens night brisbaneNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    You pick up an interesting topic. Today we know that a person has money. He is happy. In fact, it’s not true. Because money never comes alone. We don’t remember that the root of all problems is money. If any one has money, then he is also in tension , because he wants to increase it and he thinks that how we can save it.

  23. ChrisNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    Money is the source of all (un-)happiness!? It surely helps to sleep well at night, but as you said, it can lead to tension, too. Now – what to do? :-/

  24. lipobindNo Gravatar INDIA Says:

    I think money doesn’t buy happiness. Therefore, I don’t need money to be happy. I would rather be happy than wealthy, which is why I spend my money now instead of accumulating wealth.

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