Every normal person I know wants to be prosperous.
There are certainly lots of ways to pursue the objective of being prosperous, but there are also some common principles that underlie the achievement of prosperity.
A 2010 study done by Jan Maridal at Florida State University on the subject of human prosperity appropriately defines prosperity as “life satisfaction”. In researching what elements of the human experience are most directly associated with prosperity, Dr. Maridal identified these primary influences upon an individual’s prosperity, or life satisfaction:
- religious beliefs
- family life
Prosperity is most often thought of as being predominantly related to finances, but money is only a part of the overall picture. Financial success and wealth are certainly a big part of our system of civilization, a system that is now comprised of billions of individuals throughout the world who are experiencing lives that are as unique as each of them is, all connected together in one way or another. However, overall prosperity as I talk about it on this website is achieved through a balance of several different principles. I’m going to share with you what I have learned about prosperity over my lifetime and how I believe it can best be achieved.
The study finds robust evidence that income, freedom, health, religious beliefs, stability, security, and family life are among the factors contributing to human prosperity.
What is Prosperity?
Understanding what prosperity is helps us to create a template for how to achieve it.
Considering the study referenced above and my own experience, I’d define prosperity as achieving success across the spectrum of components that comprise prosperity. Prosperity involves having sufficient income and financial means to suit your needs and your worthy wants. Being prosperous would also involve
Elements of Prosperity
The fundamental elements of prosperity I’ve identified throughout my life, and which I and others have written about on this blog, include the following:
- Religion or spiritual relationship with God
- Lifelong education
- Meaningful relationships with family and friends
- Fulfilling employment or work
- Good health
- Personal achievement and skill development
My own personal list above assumes some of the aspects of prosperity (freedom, stability, security) included in the study by Maridal that I referenced above.
I place religion and spirituality at the top of my list of the fundamental elements of prosperity. The reason for this is simple. It’s difficult for a person to experience prosperity, a collection of some of the best gifts that this world has to offer, without having a solid understanding of the very purpose of this life. Context for mortal existence is critical for making decisions about priorities.
Also, considering that the Creator of this world is the perfect example of prosperity, it makes sense that achieving our highest levels of prosperity comes with understanding who God is and having a strong relationship with him. Observing his creations and discovering his nature through spiritual means gives a person the ability to follow his example to ultimate prosperity. That has been my experience.
In the Bible, Jesus taught, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) I believe that promise. I’ve experienced it.
There are many promises in the Christian scriptures that growing closer to God, including keeping his commandments and following his laws, will bring ultimate prosperity.
Here is one of my favorite verses, in Mosiah 2:22, which says: “And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if you do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
Education is paramount to prosperity. That includes both formal education and the things that are learned outside of a classroom or formal setting.
Speaking of education in a financial sense, Benjamin Franklin said “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
There is a high correlation between being being educated and being financially successful. The unemployment rate is much lower for those who have higher levels of education, and the income is much higher for those who have more education.
Besides being critical to earning power, education provides a sort of natural fulfillment from understanding the world around you that is impossible to have otherwise.
Family and Friend Relationships
Like many others, my most fulfilling relationships are among my family members. From the biological creation of our lives, a father and mother coming together to create children, it is clear that family relationships are highly valuable. In fact, those relationships comprise the very foundation of a stable life, wherein education, work ethic, and other values can be instilled.
There are clearly many people who have become wealthy by destroying relationships and walking over people on their way to the top. That type of financial success could hardly be classified as prosperity. Instead, those who are most prosperous spend their lives building wealth for themselves with a primary objective being to help and share with others.
Referring to the scriptures again for insights, the second great commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself. The family and friends fundamental principle for prosperity leads to a life of satisfaction among people with whom you have mutual trust and affinity.
Those who are prosperous spend a lot of time in their employment. Whether it’s a man running a company to support his family, or his wife engaged in a career of raising their kids, finding good, gainful employment is critical for being prosperous. Employment provides what society most often considers the most important aspect of prosperity: a good paycheck.
In our home, my wife and I have worked together to build several internet businesses. Those businesses have been successful, and have allowed us more flexibility with employment needs as our income has outpaced our needs over the years, and we’ve been able to save much of what we earned.
Over the 18 years we’ve been married, I have been mostly responsible for income, while my wife has been employed helping our kids with learning (we homeschool them). We’ve had a great experience working as a companionship in parenting and earning income as business partners.
For most households, employment has to be managed such that bills can be paid, other necessities can be procured, and the needs of life can be met while leaving room for recreation and preparing for retirement. Making good decisions regarding employment is critical for prosperity.
Good health provides a person with energy, focus, and ability to function. When disease, injury, or other things that impair health go unchecked, prosperity disappears, no matter how large a person’s bank account.
Ultimately we are all expecting to one day pass away from this earth. However, during the years we spend aging towards that end, we are more prosperous when we eat healthy, get plenty of rest, exercise regularly, and follow the well established principles for good health. Educating ourselves on what those principle are is one of the important aspects of being healthy, especially in a modern era where fast food, quick fixes, and desk jobs have made our society sick and generally unhealthier.
Often, our choice of employment soaks up most of the time and resources for personal achievement and skill development. However, there is a reason most people have hobbies outside of work.
For my employment, I’ve learned how to build websites, and how to market and sell products online. Outside of that, I spend time playing music, competing in sports, and helping my kids develop their talents. My wife and I have built a family band that will soon be ready to perform bluegrass, country, and gospel tunes.
Personal achievement gives people a sense of satisfaction that usually represents their truest selves. Often personal achievement and skill development coincide naturally with employment, but many times those are different. It’s not always practical for us to make money doing the things we love the most. That’s why we need time outside of work to develop some of our favorite skills.
Without discipline, human nature takes over, killing any ambitions we might have. When we have discipline, we are much more likely to turn off the television, get off the couch, and make something out of our lives.
I’ve always looked to Benjamin Franklin’s list of 13 virtues for help understanding what components of my life need to have discipline.
Modern society tends to make us want everything now, without understanding the value of discipline. Lack of sexual discipline has torn families apart. Addictions to things like alcohol, pornography, even social media screen time are making the upcoming generations unhappy and depressed.
If we are to be prosperous, we must be disciplined!
Applying These Principles of Prosperity
I have focused most of the article on Prosperopedia.com towards practical implementations of the principles of prosperity that I’ve outlined here. Life and the pursuit of happiness is obviously a work in progress, but if we understand more about the cause and effect relationship between what we’re doing, the choices we’re making, and the condition in which we find ourselves in life, especially through a more complete lens of what ultimately contributes to our prosperity and happiness, it should make it easier for us to get or keep ourselves on the most valuable parts of the journey through life.