Recently I talked about 5 Myths About Wealth. Just as there are myths associated with wealth, there are also myths associated with poverty. Some organizations have worked tirelessly to eliminate poverty, and they have made significant progress. The current pandemic has caused some progress to recede, and there is still plenty of work to be done.

To provide some context, 650 million people in the world live in extreme poverty. Extreme poverty means living on less than $1.90 per day. In the United States, 34 million people live in poverty, meaning living on less than $35.28 per day. That is a significant difference. It is also probably one of the reasons why there are so many myths surrounding poverty.

For the sake of this writing, I am addressing myths surrounding people who live in poverty in the United States. Some of these apply to other cultures worldwide, and some even apply to people in extreme poverty. Here are my 5 Thursday Thoughts today on poverty.

You Are Humble

Humility has little to do with resources and everything to do with attitude. People say money only makes you more of what you are. If you are not humble when you are poor, you will not likely be wealthy and humble. Assets do not determine arrogance. Humility is not a natural trait for any person. It is no more instinctive for someone in poverty to be humble than it is for someone wealthy.

You Are Lazy

Some of the hardest working people I know have worked all their lives but have never been able to break out of their poverty. If a person is a hard worker and cannot get out of poverty, there are usually other limiting factors. It could be their ability to handle finances. It could be their physical location that limits their ability to make more money. Multiple limitations might keep a hard-working person living in poverty. Are there lazy people living in poverty? The answer is yes. There are also lazy people who are wealthy. All poor people are not lazy. Some people in Third World countries will never get out of poverty, but they will work hard every day of their life.

You Are Unlearned 

I know some extremely intelligent people who cannot keep a job. Education is a problem sometimes. More often than not, it is an application that is the problem. Lack of education does affect the poverty levels in the United States. Public education is available to all. Education does not make most top ten lists of causes for poverty. As with many things, it is not a knowing problem but a doing problem.

You Are Not Happy

Money does not make you happy, nor does the lack of it make you unhappy. I would contend that some people are more content with less than others are with more. I understand that poverty can bring stress, but abundance brings a different kind of stress. Some of the happiest people I have ever met in my life were people who had so little that I wondered how they survived. Their happiness was not dependent on material things. Poverty is not a measure of contentment or happiness.

It Is Permanent

There are some generational challenges with poverty. There are also some struggles with location and opportunity. But poverty does not have to be permanent. A family may not move from an outhouse to a penthouse in a few weeks or even a few years, but there is an opportunity to improve your place in life. It may require you to relocate or learn something new or find a new circle of friends, but opportunities abound, and new ones appear every day. Poverty can be painful, but it does not have to be permanent. 

If you find yourself on the prosperous side of life, one of your responsibilities is to help bring others with you. Don’t fall prey to believing the myths and not participating in the process. It is not just their responsibility; it is also ours.