Time and again, I’m sure you have come across an inspirational story about how someone started with nothing but ended up becoming successful in the end. If you are like me, I find each story to be unique and inspiring because each person comes from a different background and grew up under varying circumstances.
Recently, I read about how immigrants to the United States looking for a better life eventually became millionaires. There is the story of Carlos Castro who came to California in 1980 from El Salvador leaving his wife and children behind. Initially, he worked as a janitor, a dishwasher and a cook. He also did construction work and later opened a supermarket. The beginning was difficult but he persevered and eventually his business became successful.
This rags-to-riches story is not uncommon nowadays and it makes sense as most of us grow up being taught to pursue this goal if we want to be comfortable in life. I have nothing but admiration for these people who work hard to achieve their dreams.
What about stories of people who work hard just to survive? Forget about wanting to be rich, having the money to buy enough food to last a week or a month is considered fortunate for some people. If I come across a personal story of someone in this situation, I feel only respect for this person who is determine to make the best of his existence no matter how difficult the circumstances.
For example, people who pick through garbage for a living (rubbish recyclers). This is widely reported in Manila, Philippines. These people looked through the garbage to find salvageable scraps like plastics, glass and copper. Joining in the exhausting work are children who try to help their parents to make ends meet. This situation is not unique to the Philippines. Other similar places can be found in Jakarta, Indonesia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Mumbai, India and Mexico.
I’m very fortunate I don’t have to work like these people. I am also thankful my children do not have to face this kind of situation. It is easy to take for granted the comfortable life we have. Although we are not ‘money-rich’, we are not struggling to put food on the table or struggling to provide a comfortable home for the entire family.
It is so easy to complaint about not being able to purchase something new or not being able to go travelling. We forget that compared to many people, we are so fortunate and blessed with what we already have.
The lesson here is we must not forget to appreciate what we have right now as we go through each busy day striving to improve our lives, achieve our goals and satisfy all our needs and wants.
Jacquelyn is the co-author of the books “Teaching Your Kids About Money” and “Top 93 Personal Finance FAQs in Malaysia” with KC Lau. Jacquelyn is the pseudonym used by Amy Sipagal.