The 5 dimensions of true prosperity

A visual summary of Vivian Dittmar's interview done by Martin Kirchner from Pioneers of Change

by Majka Baur, 24.03.2021

Since a few years in March I’m eager to watch and listen to the new interviews of the Online Summit of the austrian organisation Pioneers of Change. Also this year Martin Kirchner surprised me with many inspiring conversations with ‘role model pioneers’ and co-creators of societal change initiatives. 

I especially enjoyed listening to the interview he made with Vivian Dittmar, book author and source of inspiration for societal change, about her new book “Echter Wohlstand, Warum sich die Investition in inneren Reichtum lohnt” (True Prosperity, Why it’s worth to invest into inner richness). The title is not easy to translate, as the German word Wohlstand means more than the English literal translation of prosperity. Wohlstand literally means “stand at ease”, it has something to do with well-being, quality of life, safety and much more. 

In the interview, Vivian described her frustration with the general definition of a successful, prosperous world or life, as it mainly focuses on financial and material aspects, while leaving out many essential dimensions. She looked for many years at words and concepts to described the richness she felt in her childhood, while growing up in a simple traditional village in Bali, which ranked very low in terms of financial development, or the emotional poverty and emptiness felt as a teenager while attending a high-class boarding school in the US. In her new book, she redefines a prosperous life, as an existence in which we experience abundance in what she calls the “five dimensions of true prosperity”. 

These dimensions are interrelated and interdependent. They overlap and complement each other depending on the narrative used to explore them. Some key elements described by Vivian are:

TIME

We live in a society in which time is a scarce resource. We never have enough time for everything we want to do and are constantly struggling to do more faster. Vivian complements the dominant linear perception of time with two other dimensions: the cyclical understanding of time, in which things come and go, happen or don’t happen, depending on the phase of the cycle. For instance, there is a season during which things grow and another season where they die. The third dimension, which has the highest influence on our sense of prosperity, is vertical time. This is about the different perceptions of time depending on our inner state in relation to our activities. Like when we catch a wave while surfing and have the impression that 5 seconds last for eternity or when we wait in a doctor’s waiting room and 15 minutes seem to never pass. 

CREATIVITY

When we have free time, without a plan and feeling of pressure, we can enter the space in which we express our creativity. Nearby the borders of boredom, there is a place where random ideas and intuitions appear. That’s how abundance of time can lead to creative activities, experiments, spaces in which to explore what our unique gifts are and where the question “How can I share my gifts with the World?” becomes alive. 

RELATIONSHIPS

Doing activities we love and expressing ourselves creatively leads us to interact with other people. The relationships we have with people are key for our sense of true prosperity. Through healthy interactions we experience joy, a sense of belonging, and feel safe. In our dominant paradigm though we often are afraid of being in relationship, as we feel judged and do judge others, we perceive some people as worthy while others as worthless. Because we are afraid we hide behind a role, a public image, a status, which is supposed to protect us. But not expressing our authentic self leads us to feel lonely and not truly seen: both when we are joyful and when we struggle. Being able to develop relationships in which we can be vulnerable, “naked”, makes us feel cared for and safe in any circumstance. 

ECOLOGICAL

Ecological prosperity is an extension of the relationships we have with other people to our environment and all living beings. Having possibilities to spend time in nature and interact with plants and animals brings us a sense of belonging to something bigger. In nature we feel at home on Earth and are inspired by the beauty surrounding us. Growing the own food and observing how a plants grows is a great way to cultivate this sense of interconnection. When we see for instance tomatoes growing on our balcony we become aware of the miracle of life and feel grateful for the abundance we experience. 

SPIRITUALITY

The fifth dimension mentioned by Vivian is spirituality. She admitted that she struggled to use the word spiritual as it has a lot of different (negative) connotations and it has been used to separate the profane, the impurity of Earth from the candid spiritual dimension of heaven. She sees spiritual prosperity as acknowledging that everything is interconnected and all life is sacred. It is a way of living that celebrates life, nature, joy, and our belonging to something bigger than the material dimension of the world.

I felt very inspired by the interview and made a little visual summary about it which you find below. I’m looking forward to reading Vivian Dittmar’s book (in German so far) and exchange more ideas exploring a good life on Earth. 

The interview was published on the Pioneers of Change Summit page.