Real Prosperity

How a good life can succeed for all

Author: Vivian Dittmar
What is real prosperity? Does it limit itself to material possessions, which are currently driving our home planet and its ecosystems to ruin? Especially in the Western industrialized nations? The best-selling author and change initiator Vivian Dittmar would like to expand our understanding of prosperity in the following article. She animates us to discover and cultivate new qualities of life through this different understanding and exercises.

Soon 50 years will have passed since the groundbreaking report to the Club of Rome first confronted a broad public with the unpleasant fact that our way of life is not sustainable. Half a century in which shockingly little has happened to take this warning seriously and adapt accordingly. Despite the efforts of many to initiate this change. For a long time, everything seemed so far away, so abstract, and the displacement mechanisms worked excellently. It was simply much more comfortable to believe that things would not get that bad, that someone else would take care of it. Or that it was already too late anyway. All three of these strategies prevented effective, constructive and, most importantly, early addressing of the challenges we face today.

But there is another, often overlooked factor that prevented us from making the necessary change: It was the tacit assumption that the necessary changes would mean not only a renunciation of cherished comforts, but above all a loss of quality of life. We feared for our prosperity. And so we overlooked the fact that our way of life not only has fatal consequences for the earth’s ecosystems, but also for ourselves.

We not only live against the nature that surrounds and sustains us, we also live against our own nature.


I became aware of this fact very early on. I had the great fortune to live for a time in a traditional village in Bali when I was still a little girl.

There I met people who were materially poor, but seemed rich in another, elusive way.

I saw it in the glow of their eyes, in the carefree cheerfulness of their laughter. I felt it in the calmness with which they went about their daily work. Alsoin the serenity with which they tended their children.

To say it right away: Far be it from me to idealize the people’s way of life or even their poverty. Of course, I am aware that the Balinese way of life also has its difficult sides. But it also has advantages that we easily overlook if we only look for the faults or if our gaze gets stuck on the obvious material modesty. Like other intact traditional cultures, it covers basic psychological, social and spiritual needs that are sorely lacking in our society – despite all the material abundance.

Back in Germany, I was struck each time by how dissatisfied the people’s faces looked. How rushed they were, how lost they seemed. I was shocked by the coldness that struck me in all the perfection. The cleanliness, high quality, enlightenment and security. I didn’t understand what was going on here, since it was always suggested to me from all sides that we were the rich and they were the poor. Why then was I so much happier there? Why did the people – with all the challenges of making ends meet – seem so much more fulfilled to me?

My confusion increased at the age of 13. After attending school in Germany for some time, I moved with my mother to the United States. Due to a chain of circumstances, I ended up at a very elite private school surrounded by the offspring of the super-rich. And the unhappiness I perceived and experienced here was even more tangible, almost unbearable. The land of opportunity seemed like a nightmare to me even then. Even for those who were able to realize the American dream for themselves.


Brief definition of relationship prosperity:

  • We have people who give us support and to whom we give support.
  • We live healthy relationships where we can just be ourselves.

The number and stability of close relationships has steadily declined in recent decades in rich industrialized nations. We become increasingly isolated and lonely, with devastating consequences for our health and social cohesion.

Relationship prosperity comes about when we consciously give our connections with other people a high priority again. When weset  new networks to emerge that really support us. This applies just as much at work as in our private lives.

Increasing loneliness is not a coincidence. It roots in a false ideal that always wants us to maximize independence and freedom and avoid dependence at all costs. Being an adult, we think, means being as independent as possible. In doing so, we fail to recognize that healthy dependence is a natural part of life. The pubescent strives for absolute independence and freedom. The truly adult knows that as human beings we are dependent on each other. She uses her freedom to shape these dependencies in a positive way. This is how healthy relationships form.

Capitalism serves our adolescent striving for maximum independence quite excellently.

The advantage of a good or service is that I can fulfill a need without lasting liabilities. Liabilities, however, are not just annoying accessories that we should avoid in relationships whenever possible. They are also the invisible threads that weave relationship networks together. And these relationship networks are indispensable for us humans. Having the certainty that there are people we can rely on is one of our deepest needs. It gives us a sense of security that no insurance, no surveillance systems, no security, no amount of money can ever give us.

Echter Wohlstand – Wie ein gutes Leben für alle gelingen kannGenuine prosperity – How a good life for all can succeed© Adobe Photostock.

Each of the forms of true prosperity discussed is, at its core, about reconnection, a re-ligio. Time prosperity means reconnecting with this moment and the natural cycles of life. Relational prosperity is reconnecting with each other and with our natural being. Creativity prosperity is reconnecting with our gifts, our very own expression, and our contribution to the community in which we live. Spiritual prosperity, on the other hand, is about inner connection with the greater whole, and ecological prosperity is about reconnecting with all that sustains us.

The reorientation toward true prosperity is a paradigm shift that is already in full swing in parts of society.

A growing number of people are turning their backs on classic, career-oriented lifestyles and foregoing high salaries and bonuses in order to turn their attention to what is really important. The younger generation in particular places more value on good relationships, meaningfulness and quality of life than on bank balances and status. The new slower-deeper-closer replaces the old familiar faster-higher-further. And we recognize that the urgently needed ecosocial change could not primarily mean renunciation, but an enormous enrichment, a gain in quality of life that we all secretly long for. When we align ourselves with these five dimensions of non-material well-being, our lives become rich in a whole new way: in time, in relationships, in creativity, in contact with the mystery of life and the unbridled beauty of nature.

Unsere Autorin Vivian DittmarAbout the author

Vivian Dittmar is an author, founder of the Be the Change Foundation, and an impetus for cultural change. Her childhood and youth on three continents sensitized her early on to the global challenges of our time and continue to drive her to find holistic solutions. Through her books, lectures, seminars, online offerings and implementation-oriented projects, she has comitted to a holistic development of people, society, economy and consciousness for two decades. Her book successes include “Real Prosperity”, “Feelings & Emotions”, “Relationships” and “The Inner Navi”.

This article appeared originally on the German Homepage of Tattva Viveka: Echter Wohlstand

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