April 19, 2016 Rainmaker

Understanding Wealth

Type the word “wealth” into a Google search and the first two suggestions are “The Wealth of Nations”, a book by Adam Smith and “wealth management”, a practice that in its broadest sense describes the combining of personal investment management, financial advisory, and planning disciplines directly for the benefit of high-net-worth clients.

If you think that wealth leads to happiness and health, you aren’t alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. The study shows that the people who fared the best, as related to happiness and health, were the people who leaned into relationships — with family, with friends, and with community.

What? Yes, you read that correctly.  Relationships not money.

Common Change has long believed that relationships matter in understanding issues of wealth and poverty. It’s not that people don’t care about one another, it’s that we don’t know one another. It’s not simply about making more friends, connections, or commitments. It’s more about the quality of your close relationships that matter. This is one of the main reasons why Common Change seeks to create a generative culture of belonging, where everyone is cared for and loved.

An increasing amount of us have not experienced a generative culture of belonging. Harvard sociologist Robert D. Putnam, author of ‘Our Kids‘ and ‘Bowling Alone‘ has described, since 1950, the reduction in all the forms of in-person social intercourse upon which Americans used to establish, educate, and enrich the fabric of their social lives.

Relationships often make up our safety nets.  Unfortunately our safety nets are deteriorating. This reality begs the question about what mending these nets look like?

The possibilities are practically endless, says Robert Waldinger. It might be something as simple as replacing screen time with people time or livening up a stale relationship by doing something new together, long walks or date nights, or reaching out to that family member who you haven’t spoken to in years, because those all-too-common family feuds take a terrible toll on the people who hold grudges.  No matter what your next step might be, take it. Yes, it might be scary. It might feel like riding a bike for the first time but it is these kinds of risks that pay out huge dividends. It may mean reaching out to someone who can help untangle these relational knots.

Common Change is committed to creating a culture of belonging by enriching the fabric of our relational safety nets that result in an abundance of meaningful relationships. We are about cultivating a new understanding of wealth and wealth management — one that recognizes the importance of relationships with family, with friends, with community.

VIDEO: Knowing our most precious possession by Jose Mujica, president of Uruguay from 2010-15