Unlocking New Forms of Wealth

  • Mother Teresa embraces new forms of wealth

In this powerful TEDx talk, Nipun Mehta (founder of ServiceSpace) explores new forms of wealth as a way to improve the human experience. Mother Teresa who deals with poverty in its many forms, embraces alternative wealth with acceptance, tolerance, forgiveness, kindness, and compassion.

Mehta asserts that we are too skewed towards accumulating financial wealth (money). Yet it hasn’t worked out too well for most of us. Today there are 62 people in the world who own more financial wealth than the bottom 3.5 billion (more than half of the worlds population).

This “singular orientation” towards accumulating money results in an ever growing debt.  To pay it off we need more and more financial growth which breeds scarcity. We end up commoditizing things that we would ordinarily do for the love of it (such as cooking a meal or lending a couch to a friend). The solution? We need to unlock different forms of capital and learn to value new ideas of wealth.

Alternative Capital and New forms of Wealth 

Mother Teresa embraces new forms of wealthIf we broaden our lens beyond the singular accumulation of money, the possibilities are limitless. We could tap into alternative capital and value new forms of wealth differently with the use of time, community, and attention.

Time capital. If an hour is a currency that we could give and maintain it through time banks (there are currently 300 of these around the world). New forms of wealth are created by tapping into a bigger pool of experience and engagement through the exchange of time. We have a lot of time that could be diverted in different directions for social change. For example, we could use some of the 200 billion hours of TV we watch each year, or the 300 million minutes of video games we play every day.

Community capital. One plus one is greater than two because the “plus” has value. Relationships are the currency for community capital and improving how we relate to each other can lead to different outcomes such as trust,  health, and more happiness.

Attention capital. Our minds are full but rather than “mindful” we are totally overloaded leading to overstimulation, exhaustion, and dissatisfaction. Mindfulness is a way to build attention capital, recapture appreciation for life, and understand new choices leading to happier outcomes.

There are many other forms of capital: nature, knowledge, technology, culture, compassion (with kind acts). If we start to look at a lens beyond the scope of money, we can tilt the scale towards pro social acts (and greater love).

In closing,  Mehta asks: “What forms of capital do you and I care about?”

“If we use our hearts to assume value everywhere. If we use our heads to wisely invest in the greatest of our capitals. If we use our hands to courageously design for the full spectrum of this wealth, we can create an entirely new set for a thriving humanity. May our hands, head, and heart continue to stay aligned in the direction of all forms of capital.”

Author: Kathryn Thomsen

Founder of Hundredgivers, a nonprofit supporting and accelerating sustainability initiatives benefiting local and global communities. In addition to social entrepreneur, Kathryn is a consultant, researcher, writer, communicator and urban farmer. She collaborates with individuals, organizations, and businesses to evaluate and develop climate change, clean energy, and sustainability strategies and programs.


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