I caught this 2-minute video essay by Ben Stein on CBS Sunday Morning this past weekend. I watched it and his words made an impression on me. He defines what “real wealth” means to him. For the most part, society places pressure on the acquiring of things. Bigger homes, fancier cars, and the ability to afford the latest trends are perceived as wealth, but I’ve always questioned this premise.

My childhood lacked many of these things. We did not live in a big home nor did I own a vehicle that had a recognizable emblem. The car I drove was used and often broke down at inopportune times. My family traveled some, but we did not take lavish vacations at 5-star resorts. Although my father worked hard, he struggled in carrying out his version of the American dream.

Having less or not having every little “thing” is something I learned early in my life. It is because of this background, I am unimpressed with the acquiring of  things. I let go of that belief a long time ago. Real wealth is defined by something much more than the latest, greatest, and best material things. It does not mean that I am not prone to purchasing an item that is seen as nice, but I don’t view it as an extension or definition of myself.

What is real wealth?

Real wealth is having a happy childhood filled with laughter, family dinners, and traditions.

Real wealth is the ability to run at anytime without thinking about it. If you are healthy and your body can move, that is ultimate real wealth.

Real wealth is being loved and loving someone.

Real wealth is having choices.

Real wealth is the ability to get an education without the threat of violence.

Real wealth is voting in an election that isn’t fixed by the government.

Real wealth is a cup of coffee in the morning.

Real wealth is having a homemade meal from your Mom.

Real wealth is reminiscing with good friends about the past and looking forward to future.

Real wealth is writing, reading, and having the ability to think.

How do you define real wealth?