"Thrift is poetic because it is creative; waste is unpoetic because it is waste." ~G K Chesterton
Creating a thriving life is a cornerstone of this blog. Thrive is one of my favourite words. It is closely related to the word thrift. While the idea of thriving is fashionable in today's consumer society, the idea of exercising thrift seems to be less exciting to the general population. How are the two words connected? The word thrive means to flourish, prosper, to do well, to grow vigorously. Thrift carries the meaning of exercising wisdom and caution in the management of money. In today's culture of instant gratification, exercising wisdom and caution in managing money is not very exciting. However thrift used to mean prosperity and wellbeing. Thrive and thrift come from the same old Norse word that contained the meaning to "grasp or get hold of", and in the middle ages "thrift" was a means of acquiring wealth. Thrift is not miserly, it is not hoarding, it is wise giving and spending. Thrift is the condition of thriving through the best use of one's resources. Thrift's core ideas are industry and conservation.
According to Joshua J Yates, ‘In the Victorian era, thriving was primarily located in individual and family life as a reflection of financial security, middle class respectability, and diligent philanthropy. Thrift became, in the historian Lendol Calder's words, the art of "coaxing wealth from scarcity."' (If you are interested, you can read more of Joshua J Yates thoughts on thrift here.) We can see a return to these ethics today, with the growth in interest in ideas such as permaculture, transition towns, the small house movement, and the resilience movement.
Author Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote, "But what made thrift such an honorable aspiration was that its bounty was not conveyed by celestial benediction or favor of the crown -- but rather through the everyday choices made by prudent housewives who were neat, clean, industrious, imaginative, honest, clever, enterprising, and generous." You can find Sarah Ban Breathnach's website here. This idea of thrift is not about scrounging round or making things stretch because money is tight. It is about building wealth by persistent effort and from the wise management of one's resources.
So can we "thrive" through "thrift"? That is something worth exploring, surely?