WVU President E. Gordon Gee talks about a three-legged stool for the University and the state: health, education and prosperity.
I want to talk about prosperity today.
What is prosperity?
Many think it is the measure of one's bank account or the value of all the material possessions we own.
That's not what I believe.
Prosperity is in our mindset. In our perception of the richness of our lives.
How do we affect how we perceive our lives and change our mindset?
It has to do with love, safety, hope, faith and trust.
If there is a universal truth for me, it is that real spirituality leads us to love, faith and trust.
It is what I have rediscovered in West Virginia.
The most important love is love of ourselves.
We are often the only obstacle between the life we live and the life we dream. Loving ourselves means that we can see our bright future and spread that love to others.
Love and connections are the power of social networks, which are among the most important elements of spreading better health, emotions and mindset.
Love is the power of great culture and of great communities.
What is the opposite of love?
It's not hate. It is fear.
Fear that nothing can work or change things; fear that we may fail; and fear that we may not deserve better.
Fear leads to loss of hope, loss of faith and loss of trust.
Safety is a special emotion that aligns with love, faith and trust.
Google did a study and asked what separated their best teams from other teams at Google.
They found only one thing - psychological safety.
West Virginia is a wonderful and spiritual place, with great people.
But we still don't believe that we deserve abundance and prosperity. We don't feel psychologically safe.
We talk about the need to "live within our means."
Settling for living "within our means" is another way to say we don't believe we are worth investing in ourselves.
We don't believe we can take that investment and create a rich and wonderful future.
This hesitancy stems from fear and a mindset of scarcity; loss of faith in a better future; deep seated distrust in our ability to change our past; and generational trauma that has beset our families, our communities and our state.
Researcher Anne Case and Nobel prize winner Angus Deaton found that the trauma of losing socioeconomic status, with resulting despair and hopelessness, may be at the root of the striking early death rate among middle aged, less educated whites.
This may also be at the root of West Virginia's acceptance of a limited vision for the future.
No matter what happens in this budget cycle, I still deeply believe there is a foundation of love and greatness to our state and our citizens.
I believe in West Virginia and a great future.
We need to continue to spread love, safety, hope. I know we will ultimately regain faith and trust in an abundant West Virginia that is Almost Heaven.