Invest in Yourself: Wealth vs. "Small Means"

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly…to listen to stars and buds, to babes and sages, with open heart; await occasions, hurry never…this is my symphony.” –William Henry Channing

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. It sums up my life philosophy so brilliantly, so simply, and whenever I lose sight of one of the ideas, it grounds me back to a more sane way of viewing my world.

I have always found living content with small means simple. Elegance and refinement also come rather easily. Studying, thinking, talking, acting frankly, and listening with an open heart are additional areas where I do not often need help. However, ideas of worth, wealth and wait all confound me at times, and these are areas I need to work on, personally and financially. Let me explain.

Worth Versus Respectability

For years, I skipped this portion of Channing’s philosophy. Being worthy and respectable are the same things, right? However, as I lived and learned, I found some people were respected who didn’t deserve it, none more than a boss in college. Workers respected this manager because he was the owner, but they did not feel he deserved their respect. The manager yelled often, belittled quickly and acted childish in every other aspect of his life.

From that point on, in my own life, I tried to live respectably, offering my own employees the understanding and grace I had not received. I would like to say I was always worthy of respect, but I struggled for a little while in a high-stress job, becoming unworthy of respect a few times during that position. As I re-learned the power of compassion, though, I feel (hope!) I am now more worthy than respectable.

Wealthy Versus Rich

I have always understood this phrase. We should all aim to be wealthy in all aspects of our lives; wealthy in love, in family and in money. As we make time for those people and activities most important to us, we will find ourselves wealthy, even without considering the monetary aspect. However, money is important, and the financial wealth Channing alludes to includes making enough money to live comfortably – not in overabundant riches that will be wasted on one person.

Even though I have always understood these ideas, I have often lost sight of them. In my youth, I did not spend time with family or friends. Instead, much of my energy was spent on making money – on obtaining riches. This, of course, did not make me happy, so I am now coming full circle — to again focus my sights on wealth rather than riches.

Wait Versus Hurry

I used to be patient. I received many compliments from customers and teachers in my teens about my imperturbable nature. Then, in my early twenties, I began to hurry. Everywhere. There wasn’t a moment that I patiently waited – I wanted to move on with my life, find my happiness. So, I flitted like a hummingbird, on to the next flower before I fully experienced the first.

It wasn’t until I deeply reflected on my paths in my mid-twenties that I returned to a more patient state…for a while. When work got hectic again, I lost sight of patience as a virtue, until a co-worker exemplified a grace and unhurried nature that I wanted to recapture. Now, though, I still struggle with patience, and I must remind myself of Channing at times.

I now keep this quote on my desktop to prompt myself to stop and smell the roses, to find the wealth in everything around me, and to make myself worthy. Financially, I try not to hurry toward goals. I take the time to patiently await returns, making sure I experience my wealth rather than working toward riches. And I ensure my worth is well-earned through respectable financial decisions.

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Anonymous's picture

retirebyforty wrote:

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 22:02 Comment #: 1

Good quote! Our society is in such a huge hurry all the time. Work pressure us to get things done faster, better, more efficient. I don't like it. I do yoga 2x a week and that helps calm me down. Meditation also helps, but I just can't find a quite time to do it anymore.

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Soggy Links Friday wrote:

Fri, 02/25/2011 - 22:21 Comment #: 2

[...] Invest in Yourself [...]

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Sat, 02/26/2011 - 21:26 Comment #: 3

Great tips, Retirebyforty! I also recently discovered yoga, and I try to fit it in. Usually, though, I walk four miles per day, which puts me in a meditative state -- well worth the time investment, I think!

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Invest It Wisely wrote:

Sun, 02/27/2011 - 04:14 Comment #: 4

I wasn't sure about " to be worthy, not respectable;" but now it makes sense! Great quote, and I agree with the thoughts especially "being wealthy, not rich". That is what I would like, as wealth is real while "rich" may just be an appearance.

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MoneyCone wrote:

Sun, 02/27/2011 - 14:32 Comment #: 5

Looks like Warren Buffett secretly follows Channing! He drives a Cadillac and lives in Omaha and not NY!

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Lindy Mint wrote:

Wed, 03/02/2011 - 21:32 Comment #: 6

Great advice and great article. I like how you mention how in your 20's you were hurrying up to find your happiness, when in reality, happiness comes when you slow down and look around.

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Fri, 03/04/2011 - 22:24 Comment #: 7

Invest It Wisely, thanks for the kudos! I hope you are blessed with worth and wealth!

MoneyCone, LOL -- Warren Buffet must be a Channing fan!

Lindy Mint, I like the way you put that: "Happiness comes when you slow down and look around"! I think that's going to be my new motto :-)

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Weekend Reading: Oil Edition | Invest It Wisely wrote:

Sat, 03/05/2011 - 16:50 Comment #: 8

[...] Invest in Yourself: Wealth vs. “Small Means” (MomVesting) [...]

Anonymous's picture

Sunday Snippets: Everywhere Mullets | Minting Nickels wrote:

Sun, 03/06/2011 - 17:01 Comment #: 9

[...] Christa at MomVesting gives a sweet reminder to invest in yourself. [...]

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Ravi Gupta wrote:

Wed, 03/09/2011 - 14:41 Comment #: 10

I couldn't agree more. I'm not in my twenties and I just started to realize that I'm tyring to fly through life and make money. I'm not appreciating the things that I should be happy for and if I look back 10 years from now that is the stuff that I would like to remember.
Thanks for the great post.:)

Christa Palm's picture

Christa Palm wrote:

Fri, 03/11/2011 - 22:32 Comment #: 11

Ravi, welcome! As i got older, I realized that the things I remember fondly are the times with family and friends, not the time I've spent in the office (I remember 80 hour work weeks...just not so fondly!). Good luck in your own wealth pursuit!

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Totally Money Blog Carnival #10 – Daylight Saving wrote:

Mon, 03/14/2011 - 08:52 Comment #: 12

[...] presents Invest in Yourself: Wealth vs. “Small Means” posted at MomVesting, saying “This article takes the idea of investing in yourself, and [...]

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