Original question from Quora:

What really makes poor people poor and the rich people rich?

My Answer:

Rich people and poor people have one thing in common - they are programmed to be what they are. I mean this literally.

Our brains are very adept at modeling the world around us and copying the thoughts, ideas, and behaviors of those we are surrounded by.

In short, as the saying goes, “you are the average of the 5 people closest to you”

In general, rich people tend to hang out with other rich people. Poor people hang out with other poor people. Fat people hang out with fat people. Skinny people with skinny people. Sports fans with other sports fans. Board game nerd with other board game nerds.

Do you see the pattern?

Well it goes deeper than just who you hang out with. It’s also what you consume and surround yourself with every day. Your environment changes your expectations of yourself and what is possible.

Do yourself a favor (or disservice)… go on Facebook and look at what people are talking about or complaining about.

Your friends who suffer from depression probably are focused on depression and depressing things. They talk about and complain about how much the world sucks. They read stories and watch movies that are depressing (even if well made). They make their problems the central point of their life and focus on them with such intensity that they are impossible to overcome.

Your friends who don’t make much money might complain how unfair the world is, how they never get a brake, how the government should give them money and take care of their problems. Most of all, they might talk about how they want to “rob from the rich and give to the poor” to make things more fair. Mostly, those people are programming themselves to be poor and unlucky in an unfair world. They read news and follow the politics of hopelessness and failure. It reinforces their lot in life.

Your friends who are fitness fanatics (say CrossFit people for example), are probably posting about exercise, nutrition, what they ate, and so on. They are focused on reaching new exercise achievements, lifting more weight, running faster, jumping higher, whatever. They read about how to improve their fitness performance, how other athletes eat, and so on. They focus and reinforce their work on achieving more performance in athletics.

Your friends who are wealthy or successful in their careers might post or focus on learning new skills, interesting business ideas, self improvement, or might not post at all because they are busy working. They read things like Forbes or Inc. magazine and are hearing stories about startups going public and getting rich and how they got there. They focus and reinforce their effort on making more money and improving themselves and their situation.

Every group is doing the same thing - they are reinforcing what they believe is important and in so doing programming themselves to get what they are focused on.

The rich focus on being rich, so they get and stay rich.

The poor focus on being poor, so they get and stay poor.

When you combine the focus of energy with like minded people, you maximize what you are focused on.

So, the rich who focus on wealth accumulation and surround themselves with other wealthy people, become very wealthy.

The poor end up doing the same thing, as do we all in every area of life. The difference is not the outcome, but the intention. Whether you realize it or not, the programming of your brain happens automatically.

In general, successful people are more aware of this, so they proactively program themselves towards their goal.

Less successful people are also programming themselves, but they often don’t realize it.

It really is as simple as this…

If you and your friend both take up a new sport, say it’s golf and neither of you know how to golf. Zero prior experience. Zero knowledge. You both buy the same set of clubs. Etc…

With one minor difference…

Your friend golfs once a week by himself or maybe with other novice golfers who will be two or three over par on most holes…

You golf once a week with Tiger Woods…

Who is going to be the better golfer after a year?

I think we both know the answer.

But here is the thing. The answer for your friend is not to say, “it’s unfair that you got to golf with Tiger Woods!” That isn’t helpful and that attitude will keep your friend bad at golf (comparatively)

The better question is…

“How do I get a weekly golf outing with Tiger Woods too?”

or even better?

“How can I copy what Tiger Woods did to become Tiger Woods?”

And from there your friend might find Tiger Woods’ coach, take lessons, make friends with Phil Mickelson, setup a weekly round, and end up even better than you are.

The difference between the better questions and the initial objection about the inherent unfairness of life is very often the difference between the rich and the poor, or successful and unsuccessful people in any field.

It’s mental programming more than anything else, whether on accident or on purpose.


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