If you crack open the dictionary to the word wealth, you’ll find definitions along the lines of “an abundance of valuable possessions or money.” Most of us strive to build material wealth, but, in reality, you need more than money to be fulfilled in life. There are a lot of different types of wealth, and only focusing on financial success can leave you lopsided, unhappy, and unhealthy.
Just to make myself clear: I believe that everyone would benefit from systematic wealth building. At the same time, I absolutely despise the culture of debt-fueled consumerism.
If you’re able to break free from the societally-sanctioned expectations of mindless purchasing and lifestyle creep, building wealth can be an incredible tool that allows you to live a productive and meaningful life.
So, what does it really mean to be wealthy? What does it look like to live an abundant life without getting caught in the endless cycle of consumerism? What types of wealth exist beyond monetary and material accumulation?
In this article, I’m going to break down my view of the necessary ingredients to live a comfortable, healthy, sustainable, and fulfilling life. If you find that you might be lacking in some of these areas, don’t despair. Every single one of these types of wealth is completely attainable if you are willing to commit some time every day to personal growth and development.
In this article, we're going to review the different types of wealth:
When you think about being wealthy, there’s a good chance the first thing that comes to mind is material wealth. This might conjure images of Lambos, elaborate mansions, and luxury vacations, but being materially wealthy does not necessarily need to mean that you are making extravagant purchases or even living a particularly glamorous lifestyle.
It can be tempting to try and “get rich quick,” and there are plenty of people out there that will gladly sell you their info products with the promise that they will tell you how to do so. While some people might get lucky, your best bet is to become increasingly financially literate and have the right mental framework. Money management is an essential tool in being financially wealthy, but an equally important part of building wealth is recognizing that consumerism is the ultimate scam.
Being rich does not have to be about indulging in every last tech gadget or spending your evenings dining at overpriced trendy restaurants. Consumerism is arguably the number one most societally acceptable addiction, and buying stuff will simply never fill the empty space in your soul.
What will fill your soul, you ask? Being productive. Engaging in meaningful activities. Identifying your purpose in life and pursuing it. Spending time with the people you love.
So why bother building material wealth if you aren’t going to spend it on all that fun new stuff? What’s the point of being rich if you can’t use it to show everyone how successful you are?
Because money is a tool that gives you access to one of the most valuable assets you have: time. What if you created stable passive income streams for yourself that allowed you to go to your kid’s soccer games, spend time with your spouse, and take the weekend to go camping and immerse yourself in nature?
What if you were financially wealthy enough to write a book that you think will help other people improve their lives? What if, instead of being caught in an endless wheel of money-in, money-out, you were able to give back to society in a productive way that really did make a difference in the world?
Sure, there are many well-known figures through history that rejected wealth and possessions and gave their lives to a cause greater than themselves. However, for most of us, being poor is the ultimate thief of time.
If you’ve ever lived paycheck to paycheck, you know that when you aren’t working, your time isn’t really even yours to enjoy. If you aren’t busy trying to figure out how to scrape together some extra dollars for that surprisingly high utility bill, you’re frequently burning your time and energy being worried about money in general.
In my view, material wealth is not in itself a goal. Instead, it is a powerful tool that can allow you to pursue a meaningful and productive life.
One of the most precious types of wealth we can possess as humans is health wealth. Even if you were naturally physically fit and healthy as a teenager despite being inactive and eating poorly, you’ll soon learn (if you haven’t already) that this is typically not a gift that keeps on giving.
Anyone who knows me knows that I try to lift weights and spend some time doing boxing and MMA training every morning. I work closely with a personal trainer and we lift together for 1.5 hours in my home gym. It completely sets the tone for the rest of the day, helps me emotionally, and gives me clarity of thought and focus for my time working on my businesses.
Later on, we’ll talk about emotional health, which is equally important as physical health. In this section, though, we’ll discuss how important it is to keep your body in good shape in order to live a wealthy life. Just like Emerson said, “the first wealth is health.”
If you aren’t taking care of yourself physically, though, you are going to struggle to build any of the other types of wealth on our list.
This is a foundational type of wealth, and we all know that you should build your house on stone, not sand.
So what does it mean to have health wealth rather than health poverty?
Health wealth means that you treat your physical body with compassion and respect. You get regular exercise, you eat nourishing food, you drink plenty of water, and you don’t deprive yourself of sleep. You get outside in nature and let the sunlight hit your skin rather than spending all of your time in some dark nook staring at a computer screen. You understand how important it is to maintain a healthy posture, particularly if you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk. Ultimately, creating a fortune in regards to your health means that you understand that your physical body is the vessel that will help you fulfill your purposes in life, and the better shape you’re in, the better able you’ll be to reach your goals.
Of course, it’s worth noting that sometimes our health is out of our hands. You can certainly do everything you’re supposed to do and still end up stunned in a doctor’s office after receiving news of cancer or some other terrible disease.
In general, though, treating your body well can help to reduce the risk of disease, improve your cognitive health and mood, reduce your stress levels, keep you feeling fit, and ultimately make life feel a whole lot easier.
Taking care of your health and building health wealth isn’t something that you can create overnight, much like the other types of wealth on our list. You create health wealth little by little, every day. It doesn’t come with becoming addicted to exercise or obsessing over never eating an ounce of fat, nor does it come from complete gluttony and over-indulgence. Becoming rich in health is a balance you work to obtain every day that stems from self-respect and the desire to lead your best life.
If you’re like a lot of Americans, you probably think that spiritual wealth is an oxymoron. For fairly understandable reasons, we seem to have a cultural conception that you can be spiritual and poor or materialistic and rich, but you definitely can’t be a spiritual and rich person.
Luckily, this simply isn’t true. You can be both spiritually wealthy and financially wealthy. In fact, the two different forms of wealth can have an intricately intertwined relationship where they support one another.
According to one study from Baylor University, entrepreneurs are more likely to believe that God is personally responsive to them. They also pray more frequently than non-entrepreneurs.
This is a classic example of people having spiritual wealth that directly impacts their financial wealth. After all, when you believe in something larger than you, it’s a lot easier to connect with the notion of having a purpose in life and working towards it.
Having a spiritual fortune inside you doesn’t mean you have to live in a cave carved into the side of a mountain with only a lantern, a knife, and a small clay pot to your name. In fact, if you can manage to build financial wealth without falling prey to the temptation of consumerism, being rich can help give you the headspace and time to really focus on your spiritual growth.
Spirituality is one of those words that’s gotten a little slippery over the years, and it’s definitely going to mean different things to different people. If you’re a materialist, (in the philosophical sense,) perhaps this all sounds like a bunch of hogwash to you. It seems clear to me, though, that there is something deeper going on in life than just “wake up, eat, work, sleep, repeat” that is worth connecting with.
Whether or not you believe in God or deities of any kind, there is a lot to be gained from building your spiritual wealth. This might include:
There are countless potential benefits to incorporating a spiritual perspective into your daily life. Studies have found that people who are spiritual or religious tend to live longer, have stronger immune systems, experience better emotional states, and have a reduced risk of disease. It also often comes along with a strong social support system as well as improved fitness and self-confidence.
In short, spiritual wealth can contribute to your health wealth, emotional wealth, and friendship wealth. When you’re spiritually impoverished, it can mean that you’re making nihilistic life choices, not treating yourself and others with the compassion you deserve, and ultimately not viewing life from a perspective of abundance.
Time is money. Time wealth is one of the original reasons I became an entrepreneur in my teenage years. I wanted the freedom to travel, to explore new hobbies, to learn every day at my own pace - I wanted freedom. And time is freedom.
One of the most often overlooked types of wealth is time wealth. Remember, you can always make more money, but you can’t ever make more time.
When you are time rich, you have the freedom to choose how you spend your time and where you spend your time. There are a lot of people that focus primarily on material wealth and fail to recognize just how valuable it is to have ownership over your time. After all, is it really that great to be making $500k a year if it means you’re regularly working 80+ hours a week and otherwise always thinking about your work when you’re not there? Is it really worth it to build up a fatty investment account if it comes at the cost of being able to do what you want when you want?
You need more than money. You need time, too. In fact, you should look for ways to trade any extra money you have for more time.
Of course, I’m not saying that you should never do anything productive and spend all of your time at the beach working on your tan. The point is that one of the greatest potentials of material wealth is that you can afford to choose which tasks you take on yourself and which tasks you delegate to others. Additionally, when you avoid the trap of consumerism and lifestyle creep, you have a lot more power over what you do with your finite time. After all, owning tons of material possessions or living in an extravagant home aren’t just things that cost you money, but they also secretly cost you a lot of time.
It is all too common for people to sacrifice their time in the present in order to build wealth that they expect to spend decades down the road in retirement. However, if you only focus on building material wealth and don’t allow yourself to engage in meaningful activities in the present, a horrible thing can happen.
It can destroy your soul.
The problem with the strategy of sacrificing all of your time in order to make money for the future is that what you do with your life makes you who you are. If you are putting your dreams and purposes on hold until some future date, you might find that you don’t have access to the wealth of potential you believed so strongly in when you started your wealth-building journey.
Time wealth is also something you want to consider when making purchases. There’s nothing wrong with spending money, but you’ll always want to think about whether a purchase frees up your time or takes your time. Consider whether what you’re buying requires a time sacrifice that you think is worth it, and whether the purchase enhances the time that you get to spend with those you love or on projects that are meaningful to you.
Do you know anyone that seems to have it all, but is ultimately missing one of the most important aspects of life? Bouncing around the globe and posting pictures of your excursions on Instagram might seem like an incredible life experience, but what if that means you end up being 40 and fundamentally alone, without a spouse and estranged from the family you were born into?
When you’re younger, you might think that you’re happy to be a bachelor (or ette) forever. It’s important to understand, though, that it’s possible (and likely) that your priorities will change as time passes. Old friends fade into the ether and you realize you don’t have anyone to call when you’ve got exciting news to share or when you’re lonely. Maybe you’re healthy, happy, and rich, but there will likely come a point when you wish you had found someone to share your experiences and life with.
On the other hand, maybe you have been putting your nose to the grindstone for years now to make a living for your family. Your kids have everything they need, your wife gets to be a stay-at-home mom, and you’ve been building up your retirement account so you can escape to Tulum someday once your hair is gray.
At the same time, you hardly get to spend time with your family. You leave on business trips and come back to find that your kids seem a bit older in a way you can’t put your finger on. Your wife resents you for not being around but also seems inconvenienced when you’re home. You are putting everything into financially supporting the family, but you ultimately don’t have a rich relationship with the people closest to you.
Are you sacrificing camping trips with your kids or evening walks with your spouse because you haven’t left any time for this essential aspect of life? Are you missing out on father-daughter dances, baseball games, piano recitals, and s’mores out at the fire pit?
Having a healthy and happy family is a very important part of living a rich life. Maybe it’s just you and your partner and a few dogs or maybe you have ten kids, but either way, it’s important to recognize that it’s very common for people at the end of their life to regret not spending enough time with their family. On the flip side, people rarely regret having spent too much time with those they love.
As one final note, I do want to mention that sometimes the family you’re born into can be abusive, neglectful, and all-around unsupportive of the pursuit of your greatest potential. While this warrants an article all on its own, it’s worth mentioning that family wealth isn’t a one-way street. Even though it’s ultimately ideal to have healthy and rich relationships with your immediate family, in some instances, it’s likely better to separate yourself from abusive and controlling family members.
Just like health wealth, emotional wealth is foundational to achieving any of the other types of wealth in a sustainable way. When you lack emotional wealth (or, as one could say, are emotionally impoverished,) it might manifest itself in the form of:
On the other hand, a person who is filled to the brim with emotional health will have healthy relationships, work-life satisfaction, a sense of purpose in their lives, emotional intelligence, and, often, financial wealth. Emotionally healthy people show themselves love and compassion and have a maturity that emotionally impoverished people simply do not.
When you’re wealthy emotionally, you don’t have to put on a persona to convince other people that you’re worthy of their love or to receive their affirmation.
Rather than running around trying to please everyone, you have a sense of an internal compass that you trust to guide you through life. You believe in yourself, you resist distraction, and you believe in the abundance of your own future.
Sadly, many Americans would fall into the category of emotionally poor. There are likely a lot of reasons that this is the case, and lots of people don’t even realize that they are lacking this type of wealth. In our materialistic, consumeristic society, it’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the cycle of thinking that you need more, more, and more, only to be left financially worse off and riddled with uncomfortable feelings of guilt, anxiety, and emptiness.
Additionally, many careerist paths basically demand that you turn yourself into some kind of robot. When you’re climbing the corporate ladder, you’re simply not supposed to have feelings. You’re not supposed to have bad days, you’re not supposed to let your personal life affect your work, and you’re certainly never supposed to express yourself in a way that could make others uncomfortable or, God forbid, make you seem weird.
There’s a common misconception that being emotionally healthy means that you never feel anger, sadness, or any of those other bummer feelings. In reality, though, the healthiest way to deal with emotions is to acknowledge that they are there and let yourself feel them. If you’re new to the world of not suppressing your emotions, this can feel clunky at first, but, over time, you will find that you reach a level of emotional stability and wellness that you never imagined was possible.
You shouldn’t let your emotions control you, but you also shouldn’t pretend you’re made out of stone.
Deceiving yourself to think that you are free from human emotions will not be a costless endeavor. If your father dies, let yourself cry, for Pete’s sake. If you feel anger, find a quiet place where you can hoot and holler and punch a pillow.
Being emotionally healthy (and wealthy) is about having so much compassion for yourself that you’re able to accept the fact that you have emotions. When you reach that point of self-awareness, your emotions no longer have to control you. Emotions are a part of the human experience, and with a healthy outlook on life and often a lot of self-work, it’s possible to get to a point where your cup is running over with emotional well-being.
Without emotional wealth, you will struggle to succeed in building any of the other types of wealth. Even if you do have an incredible morning day-trading on the stock market, you’ll likely let greed or fear get a hold of you soon enough. Even if you’re in decent physical shape currently, emotional poverty can lead to deteriorating health when you don’t have a supportive, loving view of yourself.
If you can identify yourself as being emotionally poor, all is not lost. Not in the slightest! Though overcoming negative and destructive habits and mindsets can take a lot of hard work and time, it is entirely possible to transform your life by changing your attitude. When you cultivate a deep sense of love for yourself, purpose in the world, and an optimistic forward-looking outlook, you’ll be on the path to building all of the essential types of wealth.
According to a study published by “The Survey Center on American Life,” Americans are lonelier now than they were just thirty years ago. About half of all Americans said that they have less than three close friends, and 12% of people say that they don’t have one single friend.
There are probably a lot of reasons why this is the case– people increasingly socializing on the internet instead of IRL, careerist types bouncing from city to city in order to climb the ladder, etc.
If you want to be wealthy, truly wealthy, though, it’s important to understand just how vital social relationships are to our health. If you need scientific proof of this notion, this study examines how the quantity and quality of a person’s social relationships impact their mental health, physical health, health behavior, and even their mortality risk.
When you have friends, it can help you increase your sense of both purpose and belonging, reduce your stress, make you happier, and encourage you to pick up healthy lifestyle habits. If you experience a rough spot in your life, whether it’s an illness, the loss of a job, a divorce, or the death of someone you love, friends are an essential tool in your arsenal.
That being said, it’s arguably better to have no friends at all than it is to have friends that don’t support your best interests. There are, sadly, plenty of people out there that ultimately don’t want the best for you, and it can be easy to get wrapped up in “friendships” with people that take way more than they give, lie, steal, play manipulative games, or want to keep you engaged in a behavior that is unhealthy for you because it benefits them.
If you’ve made it to adulthood with some quality friends still by your side, that’s great news. Be sure to not let those friendships peter out over time, though, because making friends typically gets more difficult as you get older.
That being said, don’t fret if most of your old friends have fallen by the wayside. While the study I referenced above talks about the importance of quantity and quality, I’d definitely suggest focusing more on the latter. Even having a small handful of people that you feel comfortable being yourself around can be life-changing, and, over time, you’ll find that the relationships get deeper and richer.
In our culture, it seems like there is an all-or-nothing attitude when it comes to wealth. On the one hand, you have people that pursue material wealth in order to support their consumeristic lifestyle and to impress others with their success. On the other hand, there is definitely a faction of people that see the destructive nature of consumerism but are unable to separate that from financial success. They believe that rich people are inherently greedy and evil, and they tend to see the world from the perspective of being the victim in their life story rather than the hero.
I started this blog because I know that it’s possible to build wealth without becoming a mindless consumer. Being rich doesn’t have to mean that you’re materialistic or selfish. On the contrary, it can allow you to have the headspace and time to pursue your purposes.
If you feel like there are problems in society that you can help solve, wealth and maintaining a healthy mindset are key weapons you’ll want to have in your arsenal. If you feel like you have something meaningful to contribute to the world, systematic wealth-building can help you coax your ideas and dreams over the threshold into physical reality.
So, why am I telling you all this? I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way in my journey to wealth and I want to help others recognize the different types of wealth that they should cultivate and nurture in their own lives. If you’re curious, you can learn more about me and my projects here.
If you’re able to build a foundation of emotional, spiritual, social, and health wealth, you are on the right track to living a purpose-driven life. Over time, it becomes easier and easier to see that material wealth is not an end in itself, but rather an incredibly powerful tool that you can use to live a productive, meaningful, and fulfilling life.