Being broke is not the same as being poor

There is an enormous difference between someone who is broke and someone who is poor. Being broke refers to a current financial situation. Poor, however, is a state of mind.
The person who is broke can rectify their circumstances by improving their finances. As a solution, they seek to change their behavior in ways that improve their finances. There are countless examples of individuals losing everything and then making it all back.
Walt Disney didn’t give up after he filed for bankruptcy in 1920. A few years later, in 1928, he founded a successful company you may have heard of.
Henry Ford didn’t give up after his first company went bankrupt. He got right back up and started a second company, which promptly also failed. Undaunted, he launched Ford Motor Company in 1903.
Rowland H. Macy failed at four attempts to open successful retail stores. His fifth venture was opening a store in Manhattan in 1858 that recorded $85,000 in sales the first year, which would be something like $3.5 million today.
These are just three examples of people who have lost everything but never considered themselves poor. They were determined to continue until they succeeded. They didn’t waste a lot of time feeling sorry for themselves. They devoted their time and energy to getting back on top.
The poor person has a self-image of poverty. They believe their financial situation is a result of forces beyond their control. They’re not always wrong. As much as we hate to admit it, there are people who do not have what it takes to pull themselves out of poverty. Most people, however, have that potential.
And that’s a good thing, because anyone can experience tough financial times. What one does when it happens is what separates those who make it out of poverty and those whose quality of life remains forever mired there.
Even if one has been taken advantage of, stolen from, wrongly harmed or ignored, those who see themselves as victims give unseen forces control over their fates, a surefire path to continued misery. Sure, people are wronged in this imperfect world, but it’s how you react in the aftermath that determines your future.
Broke vs. poor illustrates the contrast between circumstances and attitude. Although circumstances do fluctuate, it’s your response which determines the future. As the wise man said, life is only ten percent what happens to us and ninety percent how we react to it. Action changes circumstances and attitude controls action. So, it’s attitude which differentiates between someone who is broke and someone who is poor.
An victim attitude leads to passivity. “What’s the point in trying; I’ll just lose again.” Victims passively wait for things to get better on their own or for someone to swoop in an save them.
A broke person who refuses to be victim can rebuild. These people know their situation is temporary because they believe in themselves. Their quality of life will not be determined by the actions of others. A broke person doesn’t waste time with victimhood; a poor person’s life is often just and endless slog of wasted time.
When financial challenges arise, as they do for most of people at some point, one’s attitude can determine how long you suffer. Having very little money doesn’t mean you’re a bad person any more than having lots of money makes one a good person. Your attitude, however, is an absolutely critical factoring in determining whether you’re a poor person or just broke.

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Thomas FieldsThomas “Tuffy” Fields is an author and regular contributor to The Gazette. He can …

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