There’s a persistent myth that people seem to cling onto like religion.
Poor people tend to lump their poverty into the same category as their race and gender. Meaning that if you are born poor or come from poor family, that being poor almost is a birth right. They believe being born poor or currently being poor is impossible to change – no different from changing your gender or race.
The fact is, poor people choose to be poor. Broke people choose to be broke. Financially stupid people choose to be financially stupid. They choose it from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed, every single day. For the vast majority of people, they choose to be poor. It’s as simple as that.
It’s not an insult
There are two parts of your identity. There’s your static traits and your dynamic traits. A static trait is something that is permanent. Like your gender, your ethnicity, your hair color.
Then there are dynamic traits – or traits that aren’t permanent. Like where you live, how much you weight, and so forth.
Static traits define you, while dynamic traits are circumstance – and circumstances are always changing. But when did being poor become a static trait that is automatically part of your permanent identity from birth? It seems to be the one and only trait that poor people use when describing themselves – and it’s just pain wrong.
When people say poor people choose to be poor, they are insulted in the same way as if you said becoming un-poor is like telling you to become un-Asian or un-female. How could you possibly ask me to consider not being poor? Why don’t you tell me to stop being Asian and stop being a female while you’re at it. How dare you! How insulting!
Being poor now means nothing. It means you lack money in your bank account right now. It’s a mindset. A way of life.
You’re not a poor white male. You’re just a white male. Poor has nothing to do with it, so stop lumping it into the same category of “impossible things that can never change about my identity” because you’re making it into something permanent when it was never meant to be – and that simple idea seems to be something the “self proclaimed poor” never stop identifying with.
It is a state of being – not a permanent part of your identity. It makes no sense. Can it be changed? Of course. Is it hard? Absolutely. But it can be changed. What worthwhile thing in life isn’t hard? But if you believe and accept poor as part of your identity, you’ve made yourself an excuse that will make you stay poor forever. This victim mindset is what bugs me the most.
I’ve been poor and I’m now rich. I was born into a poor immigrant family like so many others – but what I never felt comfortable doing was labeling myself as a “poor person” and assuming it was an impossibility to change that.
Poor people choose to be poor. There are exceptions of course – but the vast majority of people born poor just means it’s much harder for them to escape poverty. It certainly doesn’t mean you’re destined to be poor for the rest of your life.
You can’t choose to change your gender or choose to change your race. Those are simply permanent characteristics of your identity. There’s nothing else except a handful of traits like these that you are born with that will follow you to the grave. When did the amount of money, or lack thereof, in your bank account become one of these traits?
I was born into a poor family and the friends I grew up with were too. We all lived in the projects and we all got used to living hungry and slumming in every area of our lives. Myself and a few of my friends worked hard and now, 20 years later, we live the American Dream. The rest of my friends are still poor to this day. The simple fact is that if I was born rich, I would have had more opportunities – education, inheritance, etc. – and becoming successful would have been much easier. Being poor meant I had to work 10x harder than someone born not poor to “make it.” But it certainly didn’t make it impossible. When you decide being poor is something you’re comfortable with, the lengths to which you’ll go to crawl out of poverty become pretty low. You’ll complain about your unfair life and circumstances. You might try and fail but in the end, you’ve already made your choice to stay poor because being poor is no different than your gender or race – things that you really can’t change.
I refused to believe this lie. It all comes down to choice and not just one choice but many. When you’re able bodied and living in America, you have choices. Choices are free. You don’t need to be born rich or connected to make good choices. And those choices will either take you out of poverty or lock you into it.
This is the true cycle of poverty. Poor people like to believe there is some magical force – call it the “man” or the “system” – and they believe these forces are designed to keep you poor and rich people rich.
This isn’t true. If you’re poor – rare exceptions aside – you’re poor because you chose that lifestyle. You can be poor and become rich – just like you can be rich and become poor. It all stems from what choices you make.
Being poor is not OK
Being poor is a choice. If you’re born poor, that’s not your fault. if you die poor, it’s totally your fault. I’ve been poor. I grew up poor. Being poor is not OK. It’s a terrible thing. It hurts every part of your life from what you eat, to what you enjoy, to how you live and how your loved ones survive.
When did it become acceptable to be poor? When I was poor, I despised it. I hated it so much that I did anything and everything to stop being poor.
I never once decided to accept this idea of being poor as a part of identity and I certainly didn’t prepare for a life of poverty. Every time I meet a poor people – who is poor by choice – seems comfortable in poverty.
Obviously they aren’t literally comfortable – because being poor is the most uncomfortable thing aside from getting sick. But they seem to have a mindset where they’ve buckled down into poverty and are planning to live this way. At no point did being poor become an unacceptable way of life, that should be eliminated at all costs.
But honestly, is there any other way to look at poverty? Isn’t poverty by definition a terrible thing? Why do poor people constantly defend it and even proudly admit it? Are they proud being a victim?
When I was poor, I was ashamed of being poor. I hated being able-bodied and living in America – where opportunities are everywhere – and I was still poor. I never saw poverty as anything more than a temporary shitty circumstance that I will soon be saying goodbye to once and for all some day.
Why is it that whenever I come across a similar post on the web, most of the comments are people saying “I’m poor and proud. It’s not my fault!” Shouldn’t the logical reply be “I agree, I am in charge of my destiny and I’ll do whatever it takes to get out of poverty. Even if it’s hard now and I have to make sacrifices, it’s worth it – anything is better than being poor!”
Shouldn’t that be the logical response? What makes me so certain that poor is simply a mindset – aside from my own experience of being poor – is this whole culture of people who’ve decided they’ve lost the race before they even put their running shoes on. That the outcome will always be low income, poor housing, poor education and a struggling life.
They have kids. They get married. Don’t they want to improve their loved ones lives and make sure they don’t have to live poor like they did? If that was the case, isn’t the first step to admit that being poor is absolutely 100% unacceptable and everything you do will ensure your swift departure from poverty as soon as possible?
If I’ve decided the game is rigged or that I’ll end up losing, why would I bother trying to play the game? Since I was born into a poor family, at what point do I decide I don’t want to live this way – instead of planning how to live this way? Why has being poor become an acceptable and tolerable? Worse, how can you expect to escape poverty when you’ve made up your mind that living like this is actually an option? It should never be an option, never ever no matter what.
Unless you have no arms and legs, if you’re able-bodied and living in America, even the worse-luck immigrants who don’t speak a lick of English can come here, penniless and become rich. What the hell is everyone else’s excuse? It’s not outside factors outside their control. It’s 100% internal mindset.
Why? Look at successful immigrants. They had all the handicaps most people complain about, and on top of that, they’re racially profiled and they don’t speak English. On top of that, they’re also poor. How can they start there and end up rich – and if they can do it, why can’t able-bodied American-born, English speaking people?
The only logical answer is that they’ve made poverty tolerable. Being poor and living poor is an actual option that they’ve decided is viable. How is this mindset even logically able to exist?
When the hell did failure become an option?
If you live life with a “losing mentality” and believe that in the end you’ll always be poor – like your parents and their parents – what do you think will happen? You won’t magically become rich someday. Nothing will fall into your lap. Why would it? You don’t want it. You want to be poor.
I’ve read a lot of articles that says being poor is a choice. When poor people rush to add comments to these articles I noticed a consistent attitude. It was an attitude that defends their poverty. That the author can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be poor and if he knew better, wouldn’t insult poor people by blaming themselves for their poverty.
First off, why the hell would you defend poverty? When I was poor, I hated every minute of it. There was nothing about being poor that was noble or great. It meant I had less. Lived less. Missed out on life because I was too busy worrying about money. It meant my kids and my family will always love a miserable life – which is the only kind of life you’ll have if you’re poor.
Are all rich people happy? Of course not. But I can assure you that being poor is much worse than being well off. I don’t understand why poor people defend their poverty as if someone was accusing them of being a certain race or gender. That’s called a sexist or a racist because you can’t change those qualities about you – and that makes the accusing person a bigot and a moron.
But being poor right now isn’t one of those things. It’s a current state of being. A state that can be changed. It’s hard as hell and like everything else in life worth having, takes a ton of hard work and sacrifice. What worth having doesn’t?
But if you start the race already expecting to lose, you’ll probably lose. Being comfortable in your poverty is insane to me. And worse, hating successful people. When I was poor, some of my friends pointed their finger and said “that rich guy over there…it his fault I’m poor and it’s his fault I’ll be poor forever.”
Stop blaming everyone else for your poverty. Especially people who can’t help you become successful. Yes there are exceptions and they’re really rare – the truth is, poor people aren’t poor because rich people are rich. The same way that rich people aren’t rich because they somehow stole it from the poor people. There’s plenty of money and opportunities to go around.
Some rich people I’ve met are morons. They got lucky or inherited money. They don’t deserve their success. The vast vast majority of successful people I know became that way because they found a way to offer a product or service to the world – a skill set that was valuable and that people wanted to pay for voluntarily. They don’t go around stealing it from the poor. That’s just another excuse.
What’s worse – if you hate successful people, you’ll never become one of them. Why? Because we tend to not become what we hate.
“Poor” is a choice. Not a trait.
There’s a lot of choices to make every single day. These choices are what keeps you poor or makes you rich.
Some people say they don’t have the money to start a business or to get educated. In America, there are a million ways to start a business or get education for free – if you’re willing to find a way. But it all starts with the choices you make daily. And choices are free. You have the same opportunities to make choices as a rich person and vice versa.
A great example of a choice you have right now is what to do with your time. When I was poor, my poor friends would spend their time doing things that would do keep them poor. They would work less. They would avoid learning new skills or making themselves more valuable me to society. They would go out and drink. Smoke. Watch TV. Yes those things are fun and yes they give you some immediate pleasure. But you don’t get our of poverty by doing what’s easy every time.
While my friends were wasting time, I took a bus to the nice part of town so I could go to their library. I used their computers because I couldn’t afford my own. I read hundreds of books. I learned new skills. Eventually, I learned enough to start my own web business, so I did and I made it successful. I sold it and did it again. And again. And I kept building from there.
I’m no longer poor. Most would consider me “rich.” But the same ha it’s and choices I made to become successful follow me to this day.
All my poor friends who spent their time choosing to watch TV, get into debt, have kids they couldn’t afford, and so on – they’re all still poor. They’ll teach their kids that it’s ok to waste time and make bad choices and most likely, they’ll be poor too.
This is the real cycle of poverty – bad choices.
Myself and my friends who got out of poverty, we all made and continue to make hard choices. The less sexy choices that aren’t fun now but will help us later. How you choose to spend your time today will either add or subtract your chances for success.
Cause and effect
What poor people tend to forget is that we live in a cause and effect universe. Meaning if you do something, there will be a result. Doing nothing is just as effective or ineffective as doing something. If you choose to waste your time or spend your time complaining and blaming others for your poor choices, you’ll stay poor.
The effect of those choices is you’ll remain stagnant. Think of the flip side. What if for every time you wanted to watch American Idol or some trashy reality show, you read a book? What if you learned a new skill? Wouldn’t you have lots more opportunities now because of that? Or what if he next time your friends want to hang out and waste the day drinking and talking smack about rich people – what if instead you worked another job to save money?
If you spend your time working a dead end job without learning new skills to get a better one – aren’t you choosing to stay at your crappy job? If you have the chance to read a book or learn a new skill, but you choose to watch TV or hang out on Facebook instead, doesn’t that result in nothing but wasted time?
What poor people refuse to accept is that you have hundreds of choices to make every day. The choices you make will determine your fate. This is what it means when people say that poor people choose to be poor.
They aren’t saying “I choose to live in poverty.” They’re saying “I choose to waste time or spend time in a way that is going to keep me poor.” That is the real choice.
If a rich person started making bad choices, they would quickly become poor. The same way if a poor person made good choices, they would increase their chances for success. It goes both ways.
Complaining is a choice
If you sit around blaming rich people for your poverty, you’ve already made 3 choices:
1. You’ve chosen to hate rich people – and likely will make you not become one yourself
2. You’ve chosen to spend your one complaining and feeling bad for yourself, which results in nothing except more excuses to do exactly what you’ve been doing
3. You’ve chosen to spend your time bitching, instead of doing one of a hundred things to improve your mind, your skills, make connections or whatever else will help you move forward.
Poor people say that rich people are rich because they have better education. Because they have money to start a business. They know the right people.
These are all true but what is also true is that poor people can do the same things. It’s just much harder because you’re staring at the bottom and not be top.
You can get educated for free. When I was poor, I went to every free seminar I could find. I lived at the library and read and learned everything I could.
I didn’t know anyone except other poor people. So I went out and forced myself to meet successful people. To look for mentors. I got laughed out of rooms and made myself look like a fool – but I did it anyways.
I didn’t have money to start a business so I worked 4 jobs, slept less and didn’t have fun like my friends did. So when I had the opportunity to take a shot, I was ready.
Being poor doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. It just means being successful will be much harder and a longer road for you versus some who is privileged. But thinking it’s impossible is ridiculous.
Being successful isn’t an accident
A common thing poor people keep saying is that rich people got their money by luck. That someone gave it to them or they stole it from poor people somehow.
Maybe a tiny few. But most rich people are self made. They started with nothing and made lots of difficult and smart choices. They sacrificed and now they’re no longer poor.
Poor people believe that you can only become rich if you’re a) lucky or b) a crook.
By that logic, that means every rich person made their money by pure luck. How can that be? If they made their money by pure luck, doesn’t that mean they’ll eventually lose it all?
Surely they cannot be lucky over and over again? What poor people don’t understand or refuse to accept, is that being rich or poor is about choices you make daily. The minute you start making the bad choices, you’ll lose your wealth. And the moment you start making smart choices, you’ll increase your chances for success.
Poor people love to say the rich are lucky. Since rich people made their money and continue to make their money off nothing more than dumb luck, these people also believe they should be taxed at a 95% rate. Because after all, they didn’t earn their money. It fell in their lap.
Rare exceptions aside, successful people choose the hard decisions every day. They improve themselves and innovate. They watch less TV and read more. They aren’t afraid to connect with other successful people they aspire to be like. They don’t waste time blaming others. They don’t wait for something good to happen to them.
This is why statistically, so few successful people play the lottery or gamble. Because doing so gives away control and means you believe your success will be given to you by someone else.
The big difference between rich and poor
I’ve met rich people and poor people by the thousands. I’ve met them on the street, or at the gym.
I believe every human being has the same worth. No one person is better or more important than another person. But economically speaking, poor people, especially poor people who choose to stay poor, are useless to everyone, especially themselves.
I never saw their car, their watch, their house or their bank account. But taking to them for 5 minutes is all I need – and I’ll instantly know if they’re successful or not.
Why? Because the attitude of a successful person is obvious. That’s why their successful in the first place.
The single biggest factor that separates a poor person from a successful person is their mindset. A successful person doesn’t play the victim card. They don’t complain or blame others. They’re fighters. I can spot them instantly and I’ll know which group they belong to.
Poor people believe that successful people were born into it. They believe that person had no say in where they ended up in life because it was all just a luck of the draw. If this was true, everyone would look exactly the same to me. Spending 5 minutes talking to a poor person would be the same as talking to a successful person – because by poor people’s definition, it was pure luck and their choices, mindset, attitude, doesn’t matter.
But if you spend 5 minutes talking to someone, you’ll know right away if they’re successful or not by the way their look at life.
Poor people are victims. They hate society and blame the system for everything they don’t have. They’re jealous and think they deserve more without working for it.
They work the same minimum wage job for years without thinking how they can improve their skill sets to acquire a better job. They stay stagnant in life and complain that life won’t give them a break. They’re waiting for something that hasn’t come.
Successful people are the opposite. If they don’t have something, they couldn’t care less if they’re entitled to it or who is to blame for not having it. They’ll find a way to go after it. They’ll change. They’ll try something and fail so they can try again. They’re always moving and never stagnant because they know that the universe we all share is a cause-and-effect universe.
If they cause something to happen, by the choices they make, they know there will be a result – good or bad depending on their choice. So they don’t wait for something to arrive and hope they’re lucky to be around to benefit from it. They run and find the opportunities. If they aren’t lucky, they play a different game where they can have higher chances of being the lucky one. They know that doing nothing and blaming the world will not yield any good results.
Successful people are positive. Even if they’re not successful yet and are still struggling, you can easily spot the people who will get there eventually because of the way their choose to spend their time.
Luck has different meanings to the poor
Poor people like to say that luck is the end-all-be-all determining magical factor that decides whether Bob is luckier than Jill.
They believe this because they’ve chosen to be the victim and in doing so have given up control of their lives.
And if you have refuse to take control of your life, the only thing you can look to for success or failure is pure old luck.
When someone wins the lottery, there’s no strategy or work involved. It’s just dumb luck. Your number was picked out of a random can of other numbers. You were lucky.
Poor people love luck
Poor people see successful people’s accomplishments in the same way. They believe they were in the right place at the right time. They got lucky.
Poor people don’t understand that luck is not a real thing. If I buy a lottery ticket, I’ll probably lose given the low chances of success. A poor person thinks this is bad luck. A successful person doesn’t consider luck at all. They simply see the outcome as exactly what it is – a poor choice. Why? Because playing the lottery in the first place is a bad choice. Luck has nothing to do with it.
They understand that becoming successful means you have to make conscious choices over and over again – and in the , your chances for success, or “luck” will increase.
Poor people don’t understand the correlation between choices and success. This is why when successful people say “you can make your own luck” poor people think they’re talking nonsense. Why? Because by their logic, making your own luck is no different than making your own winning lottery ticket. It’s just not possible.
When this kind of mindset is what dictates your life, every choice you make will probably be a bad one. These choices will keep you poor and therefore, you’ve chosen to remain poor.
Life is all about control. You can’t control most things in life – but one thing, the only thing, you can control in life is your own choices.
Take it out of context
Look at it this way. If Bob and Jill were both running a marathon and both had the same 1 year to train, they can choose how and when to train.
Let’s say Jill decides to train every day for 1 hour, instead of watching 1 hour of TV. She also decides to eat less, drink less alcohol, and constantly envisions herself at the finish line. She reads books on training methods and even befriends a personal trainer to help advise her on her workouts. She does this every day for a year.
On the flip side, Bob decides to train once a week for 30 minutes because he doesn’t want to miss his favorite TV shows. He also doesn’t change his lifestyle so he continues eating unhealthy foods and going out partying every weekend. He thinks maybe he will win the race if he’s lucky but he does t really know. He thinks his life is harder than Jill’s life, so he complains to all his friends that he will probably lose and all his hard work will be for nothing. He hopes that maybe Jill will trip and he can catch a lucky break.
The day of the marathon is here and both Bob and Jill are ready. To Bob’s surprise, Jill dominates and beats him in half the time. Bob is furious. He thinks Jill is naturally a better athlete, and assumes she has special running shoes and a million other excuses why she beat him.
He has no idea how much work and sacrifice Jill made to beat Bob. Bob cannot see past the fact that Jill kicked his ass. Now, Bon hates Jill and talks trash about her every chance he gets. He drops out of the next marathon and gives up, concluding that the game is rigged and that he will never get ahead. So he spends the rest of his life angry and never runs another marathon.
He blames everyone and everything except for himself. He won’t even ask Jill how she trained or what she did differently to beat Bob. He just decides it was luck and circumstance, and stops right there.
Being and growing up poor, and becoming successful myself, I know what it’s like and how much harder it is to make it compared to others. But I never hated successful people or saw them as my enemy.
If Bob learned from Jill and did what she did for next years marathon, maybe he would have had a shot at winning. All the energy he spent bad mouthing Jill and feeling sorry for himself, did nothing for him.
Many friends I grew up with are still poor and they still act completely unashamed when I pick up their dinner tab. They never stop and ask me what I do or did differently from them that made me successful. When we meet occasionally, all I hear are complaints and about how hard their lives are. They’re always broke, struggling and are happy for a handout. Why? Because they believe, like so many other poor people, that the only thing separating my success from their failures is pure luck.
They’re where they are and me where I am because the universe decided to give me more than them. So they never question their situation and never feel bad about asking to borrow money.
They wish and hope for a better life but that never take action or make the first choice to make a better future. They’re gotten comfortable and accepting of their poverty. I clawed my way out because I never felt comfortable being poor and I hated every minute of it.
My old friends defend their poverty and chuck it up to bad luck. They want to change but they don’t want to sacrifice anything to do it – so they remain stagnant and hope something will come along – like a politician, the government, the lottery – and give them the life they deserve.
After all, no one is in control of their destinies so why miss their favorite TV show to read a book, when they already know they’ll be poor forever anyways.