“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3
How much is enough? Arguably, this may be one of the most relevant questions of our modern age in the Western world. If we base our evidence on the excessive consumption we see around us there is no doubt about the extraordinary buying power that exists in our world today. But is there a direct correlation between more and happier, and if so how much is enough?
Contrast that by examining happiness among the poor. My own brief experiences of working with those we might consider the poorest of the poor, mostly in Central America, has offered me some insight about this question. Specifically I remember Isabel, a Honduran woman who resided in a deeply impoverished barrio community just outside the city of Tegucigalpa. For a week she and I worked side by side on a project and though we did not speak the same language we became fast friends. During that week what amazed me about Isabel was that she and her companions were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met in spite of the fact they lived in conditions that are unimaginable for most of us.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta, perhaps the most renowned servant of the poor in our modern age, once noted of the Western world, “I have walked at night in your streets, I have entered your homes. I have found in them more poverty than in India.” What she was referring to was not economic poverty, but poverty of the soul. So we ask ourselves, how much is enough?
To live in a place where opportunities abound for financial success is a blessing and a privilege, but what are we to do with our abundance and how much is enough? The greatest reward in my profession as a coach and consultant occurs when I see high achieving successful clients begin to transition their focus from success to significance, from money to meaning, and it always begins when they asked themselves the question, “how much is enough?” Joy awaits those willing to give up their own rights to serve others. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”