Affluence. A pleasant word but with uncomfortable connotations. It's the softer word for 'rich' or 'wealthy' without the baggage. There is at least one study that refers to my generation as 'the new affluent' in that (in GB anyway) we were born into an era that is relatively 'sorted', with no recovery needed from recent war, strikes or famine. But what is it about these words that gets our hackles up? And what exactly do they mean?
Envy has a big part to play in this, as well as an assumption that wealthy people don’t care about others and perhaps more obviously: the belief that “I can’t get rich so it is alien to me and therefore ugly/threatening”. Craziness. In my poorer years I was very much of the 'I don't need money to be happy' tribe and there is truth in this, but I’ve come to accept and admit that money is also freedom. Freedom to choose, freedom to take necessary time off, freedom to give to charity, freedom to BUILD a charity, freedom to have a comfortable life, freedom to retire early because you worked really fucking hard for so long. And yes, freedom to buy a Rolex or a Lamborghini if you want. Poverty does not equal happiness in the same way as wealth (in isolation) does not equal happiness, but it's much easier to supply yourself with the ingredients that make YOUR happiness with a few quid in your pocket. And that includes the ability to be of greater service to your fellow man/woman.
These words - rich, wealthy, affluent - are all subjective too. I perhaps wouldn't describe myself as rich because I work and socialise with a lot of people who have more than me, however I definitely feel rich. My day job doesn't earn me six figures and my side hustles provide only pocket money (for now!) but I earn enough to wear most of what I want, eat where I like, have as many holidays as I need etc - within reason, of course, but I’m basically pretty free. That said, if I was more rich/wealthy/affluent my eyes might be open to other labels, more holidays etc, who knows. I'm certainly happy for now but I've decided not to put a cap on it. I’d certainly like a louder voice and more resource to do more for charity.
So I’ll say it: I want more. I want the freedom to make a better world for me and for our planet. And it’s ok for you to want more too.
I like to work hard. More than that: I know no other way. My mum & dad worked tirelessly and it's something my family inherited proudly - we have a harder time switching off than we do gearing up for Monday morning. Whatever the thing is I'm working on, be it my consultancy work, music or making watches, or even helping my wife with her blossoming young business, I give it my all. I sat down the other morning in a Ralph Lauren shirt to transpose notes from my Montblanc pad to my Mac whilst sipping great coffee from my Kara Leigh Ford Ceramics mug and you know what? It felt fantastic. The whole setup. Great quality stuff that works well and feels good to use, because I worked hard for these things and I can now afford to be comfortable while I work on where I’m heading next. I was also wearing £10 jeans and scrappy old trainers because frankly: they felt great too.
We don’t have to attach guilt and judgment to money/wealth/affluence/riches. Get rich if that’s what your heart desires people, just maybe remember to give back when you can. The choices are yours.