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Recruiting Your Stories! Wealth in the Midst of Poverty

11 November 2010

If you’ve seen Gone with the Wind, you’ll remember the famous scene of Scarlett O’hara with her clenched fist upraised to the sky, vowing “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again!”  

Minus the angry, swearing part I can’t tell you how many times I felt this way during my career as a graduate student, studying full-time, working part-time and living off of loans. College students, graduate students, interns, workers in the ministry … Haven’t we all been there at some point?

Temporary poverty. Wow! When you’re in the midst of it you think it’s going to last forever. Your imagination works overtime making plans of all the things you’d do if you just had the money.

But do you know that a recent study actually proved scientifically for the first time that wealth is a double-edged sword when it comes to experiencing pleasure? The study, conducted at the University of Liege in Belgium, found that while money increases your buying power it also reduces your ability to enjoy the things you buy … as well as reducing your ability to enjoy the things that nature provides for free, like sunsets and waterfalls. Money actually impairs your ability to savor positive emotions and experiences. 

Did you know that wealth is a double-edged sword when it comes to experiencing pleasure?

Intrigued by this premise I started reflecting on the times in my life when I was the poorest financially and have been going back over my journal entries from that time. I hope to produce a blog about this soon.

But in the meantime it’s made me curious and I’d like to hear about other people’s experiences.

  • What was the poorest you’ve ever been?
  • What was in your cupboards at the time?
  • Where were you living?
  • What are some positive and negative memories you have from that time?
  • Do you look back on that time with shame or with pride? How did it make you stronger?
  • If you had the chance to alter your past, would you skip that chapter of your life?

And for those who’ve never experienced not having two pennies to rub together or having to choose between paying bills and buying groceries, is poverty something you fear or dread? Is it something you ever think about?

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