Redefining Prosperity
January 27, 2015, 9:32 PM
Filed under: Adapting to Change | Tags: , , ,

My dictionary defines prosperity thusly: “a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, especially in financial respects; good fortune.” This definition says to me that if I’m not especially fortunate to have plenty of money, then I’m not prosperous. That thinking is sooo out of touch, and I feel compelled to redefine it, if for no other reason than to reflect on my own personal feelings about prosperity.

Sometimes I’ll get an idea for a post on this blog, but it may take a while for my thoughts to come together enough to be able to convey to you how that idea might pertain to you, especially in the context of transitioning. I’ve given this idea of redefining prosperity a lot of reflection over the last week or so, and then, I got my ‘sign’ that I was on the right track for this post…


This card was given to me by my friend Lisa the day before she left Tennessee to move to Georgia. We were having tea together, and Lisa was leaving the area to basically, redefine her own life. She gave me this card, which happened to be one in a set, created by a favorite author of mine, Sark. Neither of us had any idea that her card would reappear when I needed it most, after being tucked away in a book that I’d had on my nightstand and opened up on a whim last night. How many signs have you been given recently that pointed directly to ‘redefining prosperity’? Exactly. So, after this lengthy introduction, I’ll attempt to make the best of this can of worms I’ve opened. By the way, Lisa did manage to redefine her own prosperity, and is now living in a beautiful log home of her own, doing work she loves and contra dancing on Saturday nights with many new friends in her Georgia community. She doesn’t have a lot of money but I’d certainly call her ‘prosperous’.

I believe that this period of transitioning that we are facing/are a part of, will give us reason to redefine a lot of things in our lives. I’ve held a fascination with Cuba ever since I took Spanish in the 6th grade from a Cuban refugee that I adored. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, that little island nation suffered extreme socioeconomic collapse. To their credit, they named that decade of learning to produce most of their own food and live without, “The Special Period”. (I love that name). They absolutely redefined prosperity for themselves, in spite of starvation and sanctions. To Cubans, prosperity came to mean ‘able to feed themselves’ -and well!  Perhaps that’s why I always thought my teacher was so wonderful, because even though she was going through what must have been a very difficult transition of her own, Mrs. Zabarro prospered in her own way. She was able to eventually bring her family members, one by one, to this country, and though they had so little in the way of material things, they were the happiest family I knew! There’s a saying: “Prosperity without well-being is simply a contradiction.” La prosperidad sin bienestar es sencillamente una contradicción.

These real-life stories I’ve shared with you prove that prosperity, when based especially on financial standing, is just not a completely accurate picture of it. My personal redefinition began in 1998 when I attended an eight-week ‘Voluntary Simplicity’ course. Unknown to me at the time, I was obviously seeking answers in my life by taking the course to begin with. After reaching a top rung in my career, raising my children and buying my dream home, I’d begun to realize that my own financial status wasn’t bringing me well-being or happiness. The things that make me feel positively prosperous are good health, loving relationships, close friendships and a sense of having ‘enough’ of the things I need. 

As we continue to see the effects of a changing climate, the deterioration of world markets and of our oil-based economy, the erosion of the middle class and peak everything, what new measures of prosperity will we use to determine how we’re doing? The ability to feed ourselves and to produce sustainable, community-supplied energy will be the gold standards of a prosperous community. Being a valid part of a walkable or bikeable community that is able to provide its’ residents with the locally-produced goods and services that are needed for well-being (there’s that word again) will be highly desirable. Gated communities will open their gates or perish.

The new definition of a prosperous person will be defined as one who loves and is loved, one who has enough to share and does so willingly with those who don’t, and one who is willing to be a good neighbor and steward of the Earth. A prosperous person will be someone who will pull her share, can laugh at life, and plays well with others. A prosperous person will be one who has skills and abilities that can earn her a bit of money, and then wisely use her hard-earned cash to purchase the things she cannot produce for herself. A prosperous person will have a center of well being that takes into account all of these aspects of our daily lives. I hope it will be a ‘special period’ for us all.



4 Comments so far
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That’s an excellent definition of prosperous. Good fortune comes is all kinds of ways, not many of which have anything to do with money.

Comment by sarasinart

What a nice surprise to be mentioned in this post! Next month, I plan to sell the house I bought as a foreclosure, and use the proceeds to buy a gently used truck and travel trailer, then take off for parts unknown. My priorities are to visit my son, hug a sequoia, and contra dance across the country.

Fortunately, one of my part-time jobs is one I can do remotely and take with me. After years of being “wierd” and acting outside the norm, I have learned that success does not equal the balance in my checkbook, but is more about being true to myself and living large.

Comment by overtlysimple

Oh Lisa! If nothing else, you are a woman of surprises! On one hand I can’t believe what I’ve just read, and on the other, I can totally see it happening with you. I wish you’d call or write privately sometime…we need to catch up. I’m going to Selma March 7th for the 50th anniversary of the civil rights march. Will you be around then?

Comment by simpleintn

Just saw your response…sorry for the delay. I should be in town and would love to see you two!

Comment by overtlysimple

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