How do you define rich? Do you immediately think of money? And if that’s what comes to mind, how much money do you need to be called rich?
One of the principles of the ReFIRE process focuses on the word “rich.” But it reminds us being rich, as we head into retirement age, is not all about money. Sure, money is important, but it is not the final determination whether or not you are rich.
Norma, a 90 year-old grandma, might not be your example of a rich person. But her life is teaching me what it means to be rich.
The day after Leo, her husband of 67 years, was placed on hospice, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. Two days after he died, Norma had to make a decision about her own future. The options were pretty standard. She could undergo surgery and then endure chemo and radiation treatments. Not a very attractive array of options.
What would you have done? Once the tears and self-pity subsided, how would you have handled the situation?
Norma took the unspoken option. She decided to not treat her cancer and hit the road instead. Her son and daughter-in-law live in a motor home and agreed to take her wherever she wanted to go. On August 2015 Norma and her poodle teamed up them and hit the road. Since then they’ve traveled more than 6,000 miles. She has been to the Grand Canyon, Disney World, New Orleans, Yellowstone National Park, and she’s just getting started.
Norma is teaching me being rich is not about money; nor even about good or bad health. Being rich is about possessing an attitude which looks for the good in every circumstance of life.
This attitude is especially important as we grow older. With old age comes a myriad of unexpected problems. The money market crashes. Your knee must be replaced. You are forced to take early retirement. You end up raising your grandkids.
Examples like these, and some of the things you are going through right now, threaten to destroy you. You can be like most people and focus on the bad. You can look at the problems life has thrust upon you and cower in the corner.
The alternative, which helps bring a richness into your life, is to choose a positive response. Decide no matter comes, you will “do a Norma.” I’m not saying it will be easy. But when life crashes in on you the choices are few. Are you going to clothe yourself in a shroud of self-pity or look for the opportunity?
It all comes down to this. You are rich if you still have the freedom to choose.
Your bank account might be on life-support, your health questionable, and your future uncertain. But you still have the power to choose. Depending on how you use that power you will either become rich or poor.
What are you going through right now that is waiting for you to exercise the power to choose?