The most common definition of success is associated with material wealth. If a person has a high-paying job, big house and nice car, they are often thought of as successful. But this same person, while seemingly perfect on the outside, may have family problems, health issues and general dissatisfaction with life. The materially wealthy person keeps buying physical things because they think that will bring them happiness. But they continue to struggle and cannot understand why. The more things they collect, the emptier they feel. Friends and colleagues may openly admire such people but they continue to feel unfulfilled.
On the other hand, a person who has little material wealth may be fully satisfied with life and is simply happy with what they have. It is true that the materially poorer person may not have a mansion to live in or even bare minimum shelter. But what they have – family, happiness and health – is worth more to them than all the fancy cars and big houses in the world.
But even though the materially poor person may be happy with their life, one thing is missing – respect of others. Appreciation and acknowledgement from others are such basic concepts. Yet, we only seem to favor those who are wealthy. Those who are materially wealthy are given more importance than those who are poor.
Why is this the case? All of the great thinkers of the world have stated that material wealth is worth nothing when spiritual wealth is absent. This does not seem to matter to most people, who value “things” over ideals.
I learned a long time ago that the simplest, most humble person in the world has more dignity and self-respect than the richest CEOs. Although I am currently the head of a successful company, I never forget my modest beginnings or the people who were with me at the start.
I launched my work with two looms and nine weavers in my family’s home. It was not easy work but it taught me a great deal about humanity and dignity. I learned that we are all deserving of respect – no matter one’s position in life or how much or little material wealth one has.
These weavers, while poor materially, were extremely rich spiritually and artistically. While I taught these artisans a few business concepts, I myself learned how to be more humble and respectful of everyone. These artisans take pride in their work and appreciate everything they have. Those who place spiritual health above material wealth can teach the world many things – if we are willing to listen.
My meaning is not to imply that money is evil or that we should not strive to be successful. Being ambitious and productive are very positive things. However, we should put things in perspective and realize that there is more to life than monetary and physical things. Dignity and virtue carry more weight than a big bank account.
Nand Kishore Chaudhary (NKC)
Weaver, Thinker, Doer