Have you ever thought about how prosperous you are, rather than how wealthy?
Prosperity and wealth are different measurements. They are also different values. Wealth measures the assets and resources a person has accumulated, prosperity measures their state of wellbeing. Even though most of us would say that we value wellbeing above wealth, we pursue wealth above wellbeing. Just think how often we sacrifice our health, family time and spiritual wellbeing in our pursuit of financial success.
More work has been done around evaluating national prosperity than individual prosperity. In the case of nations, Simon Kuznets, the economist who developed the measure of GDP (gross domestic product), said when he first presented the concept to the US Congress: "The welfare of a nation can... scarcely be inferred from a measurement of national income." Walter Radermacher, gave a Keynote Address to the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance
in Vienna in May 2010 on Measuring Prosperity and Quality of Life. The Legatum Institute
has developed complex methodology to create its Global Prosperity Index
for nations. Is there a way that individuals could measure their own prosperity, and more important is there a way to grow it?
Although wellbeing is a subjective state its measurement need not be. A way to measure individual prosperity could be by how much disposable time a person has. Disposable income measures wealth but disposable time could measure prosperity. Having disposable time need not be a function only of great wealth or unemployment. Having a lot of disposable time could also result from a choice a n individual might make. For example if you decided you were only going to work for six hours a day five days a week and that you would adjust your living standard to what the income from these hours could support, you will have created disposable time. Even with a drop in material living standard and owning less wealth, such a choice could yield greater fulfillment and therefore prosperity.
However, if prosperity is a state of wellbeing then it cannot be a function only of how much disposable time you have but also of what you do with your disposable time. Victor Frankl
, renowned professor of neurology and psychiatry, bases his entire world view on the ancient premise that wellbeing ensues from what or who you serve, not from how much you accumulate. Measuring prosperity then should take account of how much of your disposable time you invest in the service of others. This idea can then extends beyond disposable time and includes wealth and other resources. The measure is not how much you possess, but how much have you committed to the service of a cause greater than you or people other than you.
Using this approach, here are four neat ways to quickly evaluate your prosperity.
- How often, when referring to something you plan to do, do you use the words "I have to" and how often "I choose to?" Prosperous people mostly say "I choose to" or I'd like to." Even recalibrating the way you language your intentionality will help you become more conscious of prosperity and more deliberate in creating it.
- Look at your calendar for the week ahead and check in with yourself regarding each have to commitment, "what would be the worst that would happen if I didn't do this thing this week or if I allocated less time this to it?" There are many things we assume we have to do, which in fact we have chosen to do. We choose with our values; by the way we prioritize importance to different activities and to the outcomes they generate. If we attached more importance to fulfillment than to wealth, some of us would reallocate our time differently. If your calendar is full and you cannot create disposable time, then you are deficient in prosperity.
- If you have been able to create disposable time, check how much of it you have been able or would in the future be willing to invest in the service of something or someone other than yourself.
- Do the same with your tangible assets: Ask yourself how serious it would be if you gave, say $1,000, away to someone or something other than yourself, and whether you would be willing to do so? If you are able and willing to invest in others and you do so, then your prosperity level increases.
The fulfilling feeling of prosperity flows from the difference we make in the lives of others and from the ways we leave the world a better place. Or, as holistic health coach, Deborah Jacobi
put it to me: What you hold on to, you leave behind; what you give is a legacy that you keep forever. Is there a better definition of prosperity?
 Nathan Gamester in Global -- The International Briefing
 Director General of Eurostat and the Chief Statistician of the EU