Wealth is just a matter of perception.

My family belongs to the middle class. In this country, that means we can’t stop working our asses off or else we’d go hungry. We live in a 2-bedroom house that stands on a 120-square-foot plot of land. We have a scooter that was handed down by my mother-in-law and a minivan that my dad finally outgrew. The food we eat is nutritious though it is far from being a chef’s delight. My kids go to private schools, though these schools are far from being the top private schools in the land.

For me, wealth is living in a mansion that stands on several hectares of land. It means having several luxury cars that were bought fresh from the factory or wherever it is that cars come from. It means owning another mansion in another few hectares of land somewhere in a different city. Oh, and don’t forget the luxury cars there too. It means having lunch at fine dining restaurants where the food costs more than my monthly budget for my family’s meals. Their kids go to the most exclusive private schools in the country, and that’s just for grade school. Because college means going off to a developed country to get a degree. That, for me is wealth. And I am far from being wealthy.

But our helper perceives my family to be wealthy. I don’t need to discuss in detail the poverty that surrounded her childhood, nor the poverty that she and her family are living in now. Suffice it to say that even if she and her husband are both hardworking, they still have a hand-to-mouth existence. They haven’t sent their only child to school yet because they can’t afford to pay the entrance fee at the local public school. They walk as much as they can instead of taking public transport because the money spent on fare is better off spent on food or a few toiletries.

So yes, wealth is really a matter of perspective. We perceive others to be wealthy simply because they own the things that we can only dream of. What we often fail to do is to see the wealth that we already possess. For even though I am able to provide a better life for my kids than the helper is able to provide for hers, she still has something that I don’t: a family that is intact. She doesn’t have to endure the long nights of loneliness and worrying that having an OFW husband entails.

And who knows, maybe I also have something that the wealthy-housewife-who-lives-in-a-mansion doesn’t have? Just like everybody else, I also struggle to find things in my life that I can be thankful for. There are days when I find it and there also days that I don’t. I do know I’m wealthy. Just not in the materialistic sense of the word.