PERSONAL SPACE: Wealth of Experience

On a recent trip to New York City, I had the pleasure of seeing the Broadway play The Trip to Bountiful. While the show was amazing, the real treat for me was meeting its star, the incomparable Miss Cicely Tyson, who brought the house down with a performance that earned her, at age 79, her first Tony award. As I waited after the curtain went down to be ushered backstage, it occurred to me that I was about to have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of meeting a living legend whom I have admired for as long as I can remember. And in that moment, nothing else mattered. I felt happy and full of life. Which is my definition of wealth.

Sure, our annual Black Wealth issue is packed with important financial advice that will enable you to get on the right path toward financial freedom and security. And in this issue, EBONY launches our 12-month Black Wealth Challenge, where each month, we will be offering you tips, tools and a specific plan to guide you toward your financial goals. The ultimate prize, however, shouldn’t be to have the biggest house and drive the fanciest car.

True wealth isn’t about the stuff you collect; it’s about your ability to enjoy the wonderful experiences that life has to offer. Some of those experiences may require more resources than others. Sending your child off to college is an experience that will require significant funds. Taking a long walk at sunset with someone who loves you will not. And take it from me: Your feeling of personal contentment won’t increase relative to the number of red-bottomed shoes in your closet. But if you wear any pair of shoes to a restaurant to meet good friends for night of great conversation, that’s priceless. While some important experiences will require saving up, fortunately, so many of the most meaningful experiences you can have cost little or no money. Here are five ideas that will help you create a rich and layered life:

Give your time to someone who needs it. Help a friend in need of a shoulder, a youth in need of a mentor, etc. Make it a point to travel somewhere you’ve never been before—whether it’s a nearby nature park or a trip to South America. Talk to a loved one about an issue that has been brewing between the two of you. Apologize, if you need to;  just clear the air so you can move forward. Go get some culture. See a play, visit a museum, read a book, listen to music (preferably some that does not incorporate Auto-Tune). Love your own body. Move around until you sweat, then go to the grocery store, buy some fresh vegetables and cook yourself a tasty meal. Eat slowly and savor.

We hope you will join our EBONY Wealth Building Challenge, but also keep in mind all the components of living a rich life. Email me or hit me up on Twitter to let me know what experiences make your life feel more full.