What defines “poor”?

So, recently I’ve been thinking alot of the financial difficulties my family is facing. It seems that every time we get ahead, we fall even farther back. Although I’ve tried to remain optimistic, it is very difficult. And than I saw this.

When facing poverty
Making the best of bad situations
First of all, ask yourself if you are really poor. Having less than others does not necessarily mean you are poor. A number of people feel poor because they compare themselves with others despite the fact that they already have everything they need. You may not own a car or a house but look again, you already have a lot of comforts in life, don’t you?

As soon as you feel contented or satisfied with what you have you will no longer feel poor and miserable.

The feeling that one is poor is largely a matter of perception. When we crave something, we will feel poor. Try to avoid comparing yourself with others. Do not fall prey to the bombardment of advertisements. Appreciate what you have. You will realise that you are not at all poor. You may not have much in terms of material wealth. But you have a loving family, some good friends, good health. To have a full stomach, be able to sleep soundly, to be free of debts – there are so many reasons to feel grateful in your life.

Difficulty can be beneficial: It helps to make you strong, patient and self-reliant. Those spoiled by a comfortable life are usually weak, unable to accept failures and tend to have poor health.

The most important form of personal wealth is one’s virtues and wisdom. In Buddhism, the pinnacle of these is called ariya-sap and is a sign of those who are truly rich. Those who have it will feel contented with what they have; and they will have real happiness. This is the kind of wealth we should try to accumulate as much of as possible.

The last thing I want to be is a complainer, but at the same time I have a hard time with the above article, especially due to the circumstances in my families life. I am grateful, as are the rest of my family, for the love that we have for eachother, the food that is on the table, but it’s hard to sleep soundly when you don’t know how you are going to pay the rent in order to have a roof over your childs head. It’s hard trying to figure out how you are going to make your car payment so you can get back and forth to work (we’re talking 2 jobs, I work all day from 8-5 and than 5-till the restaurant cuts me for the night and than all over the next day). It’s hard making sure you have enough money to go grocery shopping to feed your family, to pay the electric bill, the gas bill, pay for the gas for the car to get you to work.

We’ve tried to get ahead. My wife recently finished a course in phlebotomy, that way she wouldn’t have to waitress anymore. Even with the piece of paper saying she has completed the course she is having a hard time. She’s interviewed with places and passed resumes out like hot cakes. For now, like I said, she’s waiting tables.

I don’t really mean to go off on a tangent here but I am getting really sick of hearing about people who sit on their rumps all day and collect off the government. Than, someone like myself and my wife, who are busting their rumps to make ends meet, gets denied any sort of help because we make TOO MUCH MONEY! How is that possible? How do we make to much money? We can’t afford to live, even with the three jobs we have between the two of us. I’m not asking for anyone to take care of me, just a little lift up, and the government says no, you are to rich already. BULLSHIT I say!

I know I’m not the only one out there like this. But why is it you can sit on your rump all day, collecting welfare, Social Security or whatever and live with yourself? There are many people out there like me, busting their rumps to make ends meet and get nothing but kicked back down. Child care you say? Yeah well we have child care so my wife and I can work during the day, but we’re talking a couple hundred bucks a week to pay for that. And then how much money do we bring home after paying that, not much.

I’m going to stop ranting and raving here, I’m just a little fed up with all the people that think we’re not poor cause we have a financed car and other things. We live in a friggin ghetto, their is violence (however infrequent it is) in our neighborhood. And all we can do is keep busting our asses. For what though, to pay taxes so people can sit on their asses? I think not. Now you tell me, what defines “poor”? Love is a great thing, but it can’t pay the bills and keep that roof over your head. If it weren’t for the fact my wife and I just found a cheaper place to live, we would have been facing an eviction. Now you tell me, what defines “poor”?

ps. Sorry to my readers for this rant, I had to get it off my chest. We all have those days, and todays one of em for me!


  1. Before I get all preachy, it’s important to note that I’m aware that I’m unaware of the intricacies of your socioeconomic situation. I understand that everyone’s different (which is what I love most about sentients) and this makes it difficult to give precise ‘advice’ (up-my-own-arse idealism).

    Sit down and really think. You smoke marijuana? Roll a joint and sit and think. (Oh no, not another fucking cone smoking hippie). Do whatever it is that helps you to relax and think rationally and objectively. Ask yourself, ‘what do I really NEED?’ When you do, try to remove yourself from your social construct (culture and the values that you’ve grown up with, you may find a lot of it to be rubbish, perhaps not), because this can cloud your judgement. I’ll use myself as an example.

    I found that I required shelter (not necessarily a house or structure, I grew a beard instead :)), water, books (or any form of knowledge, I prefer the internet but it’s an expensive endeavor) and healthy food. I am not responsible for any others (children or other family members) so knowing what I required to be happy was relatively simple to practically apply to my life. I gave away all but three pairs of clothes, stopped driving my car, switched all electricity off at its source when on standby, etc. and I’m happier because I’ve no remaining financial burden. This, however, was simple to achieve because I wasn’t under tremendous financial burden to begin with. I understand that happiness is difficult to measure, but I spring out of bed every morning, so that’s good enough for me. I do my bit for society (I’m a cleaner) but I’m still deciding whether I want to be a part of it or not; I can see myself eventually building some dingy shitty log cabin next to a big fresh water dam or something :)

    Some people have done what I have described above (deciding what their necessities are and applying) and have still fallen short financially. If you fall into this category, unfortunately, I’m powerless to help you directly. However, if you’re able, figure out what you really need (fuck clothes and make-up, fuck the car and fuck fancy food, here in Aus you can buy a 1kg bag of muesli for $1AU) and decide what’s required of you to make you and yours happy. It may require sacrifice but I reckon happiness is invaluable.

    Just my two cents.

  2. I can totally sympathize, though we qualify for a small amount of aid. Being poor is hard, and very often hard work. People who aren’t poor often either forget that or have no frame of reference to really, truly understand it. That being said, poverty is relative, and I know that the dire state of our affairs is relative, and that poverty here is markedly different than poverty, say in Rio or Mumbai, etc. All my best!

  3. We all have days when we have to get things off our chest, nothing wrong with that–nothing good comes from swallowing emotion! I know how you feel, I try to remind myself all the time that compared to most of the population in the world, I am rich. But when life crunches hit it is scary no matter where we stand on the global economic scale. I know that we are lucky to have food, running water, a car (despite a nauseating amount of money in car repairs in the last 1.5 weeks), and a great family–but it can still be scary. I still can’t define myself as poor, and I think the article touches on an ideal situation of emotion that most of the time I can attain, but not always, not every day. Sometimes we need to just vent it out and that is okay. I respect your struggle to take care of your family and I wish you a measure of peace today and every day.

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