As I'm writing the wealth magic book and getting some feedback from prospective readers, one of the themes coming up is cultural identity vs personal identity, specifically how people define their own identity and definition about wealth in context to their environment, people in their lives, as well as what our culture says people should want. In Magical Identity, I explored how culture, family, environment, etc., shape a person's identity and this can and is easily extended to wealth as well. The perception of wealth that we're shown isn't necessarily the same as the reality of wealth for any given person. I think that truly understanding the concept of wealth as it applies to an individual's life involves some level of internal work that factors in the cultural theme of wealth and explores how much that theme really applies to the person's life.
I use myself as an example. Strictly examining my life by the cultural theme of wealth that is prevalent in the U.S. I wouldn't be considered wealthy. I'm not a multimillionaire, nor am I really obsessed with making lots and lots of money. I even have some debt that I'm paying off. My businesses are gradually becoming more successful, but I've made a few mistakes along the way. I've dropped out of graduate school, worked in the tech writing industry a couple of years and I've written a few books, but I'm not even all that well known in the occult community. By the cultural theme of wealth in the U.S. I would not be considered wealthy.
But by my theme/definition of wealth, I do consider myself wealthy. I am able to live on my own schedule, by my own rules, doing something I love to do. I am supported by someone who believes in me, and in turn I support her in a variety of ways that while not financial, nonetheless are significant to her because they make her life easier and bring her a sense of peace and contentment. I am able to work on my projects and I am happier than I have ever been. I have friends I care about, who also care about me. And while I have some debt, I also have some investments, and a financial plan that is moving me out of debt.
I am wealthy because I choose to define myself by the wealth I have in my life, which is more than just how much money I make. I am also wealthy because I have a plan that I am following, which is slowly but surely producing results. I am wealthy because I am doing what I feel called to do instead of settling for doing something that I don't want to do. I am wealthy because I have support from people who believe in me and are invested in my success, enough so that even when I have doubts, they don't and help me see what I have going in my favor.
I see cultural identity as a mirror of sorts. It shows me what the culture values and allows me to evaluate those values as they apply to my life, but in the end I think it is far more important to define your own values around wealth. This doesn't mean that I advocate believing in the virtue of being poor as a form of wealth, but rather I think that to truly understand wealth you need to understand how it applies to your life and this means consciously creating an identity and definition of wealth that gives you a way to meaningfully interact with what constitutes wealth in your life.
There's a lot of pressure to adhere to cultural standards of wealth, health, and everything else in between, but I don't think you can meaningfully get a lot from those standards because if you examine them you realize they create a lot more stress and unhappiness than anything else. People are so busy trying to fit into those standards that they lose themselves along the way. They can't keep up with the Jones, and they don't even know what they really want.
What really makes your life meaningful is how you define your life in context to how you want it to show up. Are you doing what you love to do? Are you happy with how your life is manifesting? Are you being true to your calling? Those are the questions I'm interested in, as they apply to my life and the lives of others, with wealth as a focus. I figure if you really get wealth, you know it when what you are doing is bringing you to life and who you are doing it with is what motivates you to do it. I admit its not a conventional approach to wealth, but I've never settled for conventional, because conventional is usually flawed.