Rich or poor - making a life or just a living?

A couple of years ago my younger children Jasmine (then 6) and Shaan (then 8) asked me a simple question: How rich are we?

A couple of years ago my younger children Jasmine (then 6) and Shaan (then 8) asked me a simple question: How rich are we?

This question got me thinking for a long time. I introspected and struggled with the answer & came across some facts:

1. More than 9 million children still die every year from preventable causes and diseases.

2. More than 1 billion people live on under $ 1 per day.

3. Nearly 3.5 billion people (half the world’s population) live on under $ 2 a day.

4. The world’d richest country has only 4% of the world population but consumes more than 25% of the world’s resources and creates nearly 30% of the world’s pollution.

5. In this country 1% of the population owns over 40% of the wealth and the top 20% probably over 0%, leaving the bottom 80% with less than 10%.

6. We are systematically trying to replicate the systems of this country with the help of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to the rest of the World.

All my figures may not be 100% correct but maybe there is a PINK ELEPHANT in the room that no one wants to talk about. I am not convinced that this kind of consumption or wealth and resource distribution is sustainable for our children and unborn generations to come.


In business we have been taught the 80:20 rule and what we cannot measure does not exist, but in the 21st century we probably need to revisit the GDP model as the only measure of development. This model, in my opinion, seems to be broken in a major way. Organizations like the OECD are now starting to look at measures like GNH (Gross National Happiness) and we have some very competitive countries from Scandinavia or Canada or New Zealand etc. that are great examples of countries that rank high on the new measures.

And this, I feel, may be a more sustainable path into the future for our children. :-) 

I, too, was very poor just a few years ago and was on the treadmill making a living. I did not have any time to stop or take a step back and look at the Canvas of my life or the reason or purpose of my existence. And then suddenly one day, due to health reasons, my life came to a standstill in the middle of 2012.

I was running fast and on demand 24/7 with TO DO lists until I realized one day that if DOING was so important, I would be a Human Doing and not a Human Being. So I stepped back from my business and from my life. I slowed down and started to meditate and be more mindful & just stay in the present moment – I spent time with myself going nowhere and doing nothing – and it is the best time I have spent on the face of this planet. It is about connecting with myself. It is about coming Home.

Today, I do not have a television at home for over 2,5 years and I do not get any newspaper. It may be an extreme response but I am a very happy man because the world we live in is beautiful and not at all as bad and scary as we are given to believe it is by our media.

Suddenly, as I have stepped back, I have realized that not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts. I have realized that it is this intangible which determines the quality of my life. Many years ago Shakespeare said: “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder“ and I somehow felt that my eyes were very foggy. My eyes did not see the beauty that we are surrounded with so now I have slowed down and started to mindfully ask myself the question: “How do I feel about how I spent my time today?“ – every day. Life is beautiful. And I have started to finally “MAKE A LIFE INSTEAD OF JUST MAKING A LIVING“.

It’s a perfect day for me when I can do something for someone who I know will never be able to repay me back – because I now try to focus myself on the actions with complete detachment from the results. I am very fortunate and very grateful for everything that the Universe brought me and I am aware that there are generations yet unborn whose very lives may be shifted and shaped by the actions we take today. I think it is a beautiful possibility to live into every morning and every day. :-)


I found this 104 min video on "The End of Poverty" very revealing and enlightening: Happy watching :-) and let me know what you think about it.

Sanjiv Suri

More news


Why does Sanjiv Suri get up at four o’clock in the morning and want to give away everything ?


Antarctica Matters ...

I just got back from an expedition to the seventh continent - Antarctica. Not only was it the farthest I have been from home but probably the most amazing journey I have ever made in 57 years.


The power of gratitude and purpose

One day a couple of years ago, I was alone with my eldest daughter and we were having dinner together.