A long time ago Plato said that “poverty consists, not in the decrease of one’s possessions, but in the increase of one’s greed”. Even Buddhism warns us of this issue by stating that “it is not richer who has more, but who needs less”.
Underlying these ideas lies a fundamental teaching that we often forget: the true wealth does not consist in the possession of material goods, but is within us. For this reason there are many people who, although they have everything they need and even more to meet their material needs, continue to be poor, are poor in spirit and heart, of a poverty that makes them deeply unhappy.
The poor lacks many things, the greedy everything
Said once Publio Siro, a writer of the ancient Rome, but the truth is that his words continue to be effective even in the twenty-first century. There are people who may be classified as “poor” considering the economic condition, that are rich at heart, while others that could be considered “rich” are poor in affection.
There are people who go for the world illuminating and stimulating, spreading their example of tolerance and goodness. Others think that the world is their garden and that the others should make them all the honors. These people are not satisfied with what they have and want always more, so they end up being very unhappy, because the dissatisfaction takes over their lives. The curious side is that often they don’t even realize that the source of their unhappiness is within themselves, in their ideas, attitudes, expectations and behaviors.
Selfishness, competitiveness and the desire to have more and more have soaked their bones, so they are not able to discern that there is another way of life, a life with less stuff and money, but that can be much more rewarding. Actually, it’s not even their fault, usually it comes to people who grew up in a very competitive environment, where they were taught that the more you have the more you’re worth, and never questioned this idea.
These people do not conceive that they can be happy with less, as well as do not realize that they are no longer happy having more. Deep inside are the victims of their stereotypes and beliefs, they became victims of a spider web that helped to build.
Be and let be
Usually in psychology is applied this principle: don’t put people in front of problems they can’t solve because they have not the necessary tools to do it. This prevents iatrogenesis.
In life there are many cases where you have to apply this principle, because sometimes the good intentions end up causing greater evils. Therefore, when a person does not show to be receptive to certain messages, is better not to try to change, convince, or even start a discussion about it with him/her.
Everybody has to live their own experiences and learn from them. In fact, there is no better teacher than life itself. In the meantime, you can motivate by example, because there is nothing better to make the others reflect tan show them that we can be compassionate without being rich, that we can soothe even when we feel bad, we can be empathetic even in a difficult and adverse situation and that we can be very happy having less.
Sabater, V. (2016) Hay gente que no es pobre por como vive, sino por como piensa. In: La mente es maravillosa.