• Leila Souza

About Wealth as a State of Mind and Designing a World for All

Updated: Jul 30, 2020

If wealth is a state of mind not for everybody, how can we design a world where all beings have at least the basic to live?

About Wealth as a State of Mind and Designing a World for All
Wealth, State of Mind and Designing a World for All

I was struck with this question while designing the disruptive diversity work session. To be honest, I usually ask myself questions related to world issues. However, this subject hit me deeply in a way that I had no other alternative than sharing with someone. Also, I thought that writing could lead to an answer. How naive of me, it actually led to more questions.

A torrent of uncertainty hit me. Do I have the power to answer this question? Am I able to design a society where all people have shelter? Can I help create a world where people have basic access to food, clean water, and sanitation? Is my desire to design a better world greedy? I don't have the answers. Yet, I’m convinced to write about it.

First of all, is wealth a state of mind?

When I speak about wealth, I mean in the sense of an abundance of valuable possessions and/or the mental state of feeling prosperous.

With that clear, Is wealth a state of mind or not? In my opinion, it depends on the environment in which we are born.

Let me explain and please note that this explanation is an opinion, not based on scientific research.

Wealth as a state of mind

I believe wealth can be a state of mind when you are born with access to a structure that satisfies the basic conditions of living for a human to survive. To illustrate, let’s look at my life story. I was born in a poor community in Serra, Espírito Santo, Brazil. Type ‘favela house in Brazil’ on Google search and you’ll get a picture of the type of neighborhood I grew up. Despite the poor conditions I was living, I had access to education, food, clean water, sanitation, supportive parents, and a place to call home. My only complaint was the lack of money.

Under these circumstances, when basic human needs are satisfied, wealth can be a state of mind. In my case, I had what 60% of the world population does not have, a foundation that allowed me to dream of a life outside my social class and build a mindset of prosperity.

The other side of the coin

Nevertheless, there is this part of me that believes wealth cannot be a state of mind when you grow up being part of the 2.3 billion of people living without access to improved sanitation when you are part of the 736 million people living in extreme poverty.

It is hard to believe that people in extreme poverty, born in survive mode, living around others enduring a hard life, would have the mental state of wealthy. It is even hard to consider it when I put myself on their shoes.

If I was them, could I dream about being wealthy? I question if hunger and lack of sanitation allow space for creativity? Is that possible to imagine a life outside of those conditions? Can I think of a life of luxury if I don’t even know I'll eat today? I was never in this position, so I can only wonder. However, knowing myself, the only answer that echoes in my mind is no.

My mental state might not be the same as yours

To be honest, I am probably wrong. Maybe, in spite of, and sometimes because of their poor condition of living, they still feel wealthy. In the end, because it is conditioned to a mental state, it is subjective to each individual.

Can we design a world where all beings have the basic to live?

To start, Isn't selfish to assume that what is essential for me to live, is also suitable for you? For example, I think quality public education, free healthcare, 3 meals a day, water and sanitation is an essential pack for humans to live well in this world. However, you might disagree because the conditions in which you were born, allowed you to consider more or fewer things as essential to living. So, how can we design a world where all beings have their basic package to live well? Is it even possible?

I think, therefore I am.

In Oeuvres de Descartes volume 7, René Descartes concludes that the proposition I think, therefore I am is necessarily true whenever it is put forward by him or conceived in his mind. If this premise is really valid, conceding that this also applies to any form of thoughts, could we use the validity of this statement to be a world better to all?

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