Most of us spend a great amount of time and precious life-energy working--whether we are self-employed, work at the local grocery store, or work as an executive at a Fortune 500 company. For those interested in personal growth and transformation, it is a very reasonable question, therefore, to ask: How is my work in the world related to my inner journey ...
Are you wondering: Do I have a vision for my life? What am I passionate about? What is my life's purpose? What unique contribution can I bring to the planet at this time? These are the essential questions that each of us ask at some point in our lives. How can we use the skills, talents, and interests that we have been ...
The topics of money, abundance, and manifestation are intimately tied to our ideas about who we are and our perception of reality, and are intertwined at the deepest levels with the work that we do. Many of us are convinced that having more money (or more things) will bring an infusion of meaning, purpose, and fulfillment into our lives. ...
The following frequently asked questions have been answered by Rick Jarow, Jeff Klein, Spencer Sherman, and Vicki Robin.
Answers provided by Jeff Klein, CEO, Cause Alliance Marketing, executive director of FLOW and the Conscious Business Alliance, and author of Working for Good: Making a Difference While Making a Living (Sounds True, 2009). For more information about Jeff Klein, please see www.flowidealism.org .
Conscious Business is a way of building and conducting a business that recognizes that business serves a purpose beyond return on investment, operates in the context of interdependence, and functions to deliver value to all of the stakeholders in its interdependent system. Conscious Business is relevant in various ways. On a basic level, identifying and standing for purpose, a company catalyzes energy, enthusiasm, and engagement. Purpose inspires, motivates, and keeps teams on track. A company's specific purpose does not necessarily have to be "to make the world a better place," but it does have to represent something of value that it stands for, promises, and delivers to its stakeholders. One great example is that of Southwest Airlines, whose purpose is to democratize the airways providing "the freedom to fly." Inspiring to its employees, customers, investors, and others, its purpose lays the foundation of a truly great company.
By delivering value to all of its stakeholders a business deepens relationship, engagement, and loyalty with its stakeholders and creates relationships based on reciprocity and value exchange, partnership and collaboration, rather than manipulation or transactions. This type of relationship can build the foundation for a more sustainable and resilient company.
On another level, the Conscious Business approach is relevant because, more and more, customers, employees, communities, and even investors, are calling for companies to do more than just provide a product or service of value--to also actively address social and environmental issues and to make the world a better place through the way they conduct business. By identifying its purpose (and by explicitly including its social purpose as part of its overall purpose) and engaging its stakeholders in a cocreative, collaborative process to address social and environmental issues, companies stand to facilitate effective action, and further deepen relationships, engagement, and reciprocity.
Good question. My first response is to suggest you take a moment to ground yourself--to breath and check into your body, to see if you are holding tension anywhere, and to breath into it until it relaxes. My next response is to ask how you know you will likely be fired or get into trouble if you speak directly to your boss? What is the story you are telling yourself about the prospective scenario of the conversation? Can you envision a scenario in which the conversation plays out differently? When you envision a more positive, generative scenario, in which your boss is more open and less threatening (and less threatened), how do you feel inside? How is it different from how you feel when you envision the initial, more threatening scenario? How do you see your boss differently in each scenario? How do you relate to him or her differently in each scenario?
How does the conversation begin in the more constructive scenario? Can you imagine ways to invite or engage your boss in a conversation that is nonthreatening, even supportive of him or her, that taps into his or her needs and concerns? Perhaps you might open with something like this: "I wonder if you can help me with something? I am having a challenging time with something that might be affecting our team's productivity, and wonder if you can help me to make sense of it." The point is to approach your boss as a collaborator rather than an adversary and as someone who has his or her own relationship to the issue you are concerned about. And you can maintain a collaborative, facilitative stance even if your boss is not initially open and responsive.
At some point, if your boss does not respond to you openly and constructively, if your values are deeply compromised, or if you are acting to prevent harm to yourself or others, you may be called to risk being fired or to get into trouble. The power of truth and, in some cases, the law can cut through and provide solid ground for you to stand on.
Create a culture of authorship, with clear, distributed responsibility, accountability, and authority. Encourage and reward initiative (while cultivating collaboration and team work). Model "take charge" behavior, without taking charge of everything. Ask people what they think and give them a big thumbs up to go with their ideas. Accept "failure" as part of the process of innovation and learning, encourage ongoing innovation and risk-taking, and share lessons and best practices for institutional learning. Support skill development, foster peer support, celebrate successes, and cultivate a culture of collaboration. And support your employees to take care of themselves at work--to eat, drink water, stretch, get fresh air, take breaks, and otherwise take charge of their personal well-being. If they can take responsibility for themselves, they are more likely to be able to take responsibility for other things.
Create an empowerment culture, tying accountability to responsibility and authority. Any one or two of these without the others is like a stool missing legs. Be clear about expectations and agreements, and follow through with rewards and repercussions. Foster a culture with both peer support and pressure, in which we hold each other accountable and support each other to deliver. Establish systems, practices, and incentives that support follow-through and delivery on commitments, and provide training where necessary.
Live your values rather than preach them. Exercise discernment and self-restraint. Recognize alignment even if the language is different. Be clear about where values differ and decide what your bottom line is. Know where you can stretch your bottom line, and reconcile your actions without feeling like you have breached the unbreachable (which you will know by lack of energy and inspiration, guilt, self-doubt, illness, and similar effects). When you are faced with your absolute bottom line, stand up for what you believe, or leave.
Work for change--either within the company or in your situation. Again, decide what your bottom line is, and choose to take a stand or reconcile or shift.
Some of the ways you can work for change are:
Listen. Listen to the critiques, and ask for more specific information--examples of ways that you are difficult to communicate or collaborate with. Look within at the issues and example others point out and more generally. Explore your inner relationship to listening to and working with others. Do you have blocks or baggage you carry with certain people or types of people? Do you have an orientation to doing things on your own? Are you fearful about collaborating? What are the negative or positive experiences you have had in the past that may be informing your behavior and relationship?
Ask for help. Engage a coach, therapist, or consultant to support you with your inquiry and with developing awareness and skills that support you to listen and collaborate more deeply and effectively.
And recognize that it may not just be about you (it does take two to tango). Seek to understand the different ways people learn and relate to themselves, others, and the world around them and the way that different styles may connect or disconnect with others. Then develop strategies, skills, and practices to facilitate connection and collaboration.
>Just as understandings and expectations about the role and responsibility of business in society are evolving, so are they evolving with respect to the role of capital. There is a growing ecosystem of conscious investors with conscious capital investing in conscious businesses, individually and through funds and other platforms, using new metrics that address financial return as well as social and environmental return.
New forms of corporations are coming into existence that reflect the opportunity to deliver more than financial return. For example, 2006 Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus has created what he calls a "social business," which does not generate a return on investment for shareholders, simply a return of their original capital, without interest or appreciation.
In some respects this question is similar and related to the question "How do I speak directly and truthfully to my boss when doing so will likely get me fired or into trouble?" It may be different and more difficult in that there seems to be a culture of mistrust.
Working with mistrust, secrecy, and other similar sentiments can be deeply challenging, like chasing a shadow in the dark. You know it is there, but you can't see it or catch it, and you may bump into others, who are avoiding discovery, in the pursuit.
Skillfully shining a light on the situation to reveal what is hidden takes great awareness, sensitivity, and courage. One way to begin to shine a light is to do so indirectly, without confrontation, reflecting openness and trust in your communications. For instance, when someone sends you an e-mail with information that is clearly relevant to others and where it would be natural for them to be copied in a more trusting and open environment, copy them on your response. And when you generate communications, include everyone who is relevant--again, modeling openness and trust. And when someone approaches you with gossip, encourage the individual to bring the issue up with the person he or she is gossiping about, and make it clear that you prefer not to engage in gossip.
If it is appropriate, take an even more direct approach with individuals and the whole group, explicitly reflecting the pattern of behavior that you are witnessing, how it affects you, and the effects that you observe it having on others and on your work together.
Complaining and grumpiness are likely to be signs of unaddressed issues, especially if "everyone" is complaining and grumpy. One way to start is to express your concern for others and for the group as a whole, based on the complaining and grumpiness (which you may want to refer to in some other way, perhaps something like "it seems that you are not happy in this situation"). You might ask individuals and even the group what is bothering them and what they think can be done to address it. You can also shift the energy out of complaining and grumpiness and bring attention and awareness to the issue by acting out the attitude you are observing and amplifying it. Become a caricature of it, lighten the air, and open people to seeing it for themselves, with some objectivity and openness.
Take care of yourself and model healthy behavior. Express your concern for others and encourage them to take care of themselves. Engage others to acknowledge the situation and express their concerns, for themselves and others.
Express your concern to management and represent that is in their best interest to address the situation. Convey facts relating to costs of excessive stress, including reduced productivity; increased illness and absenteeism; diminished creativity, connectedness, and collaboration; and deflated passion and sense of purpose, which lead to increased turnover and undermines cohesiveness, group learning, and continuity.
And represent the benefits of healthy, happy employees and teams, passionately committed to a shared purpose and exercising their initiative, creativity, and productive energy.
The following answers were provided by Rick Jarow, PhD, professor, author, and creator of the Anti-Career workshop. For more information about Dr. Jarow and his programs on finding the work you love, please see www.rickjarow.com.
That kind of excuse is one way to dis-empower yourself. If it's important enough to you, you'll make the time. The whole time continuum--and being caught up in the time cycle--is a result of the choices we have made and the karma that we've created. If you're really serious about life alignment and getting it together, you have to step off the treadmill. So my suggestion is: begin a practice of abundance where you dedicate some time--even if it's just half an hour every day--to one thing that connects you to the universe, and stop thinking negatively.
This is a very good question. Your sense of calling can manifest anywhere. From the holistic career development point of view, the work you do, the career you have, is just one branch of the ecological stream of your entire life. And so we are not here to sacrifice ourselves to work, but rather we are here to find out what is it that connects us to God, that brings us joy and gives us meaning; in other words, our calling.
That could be parenting, that could be planting a garden, or that could be doing yoga. This does not have to be your work in the world. Life alignment means your work in the world will facilitate your calling and not destroy your calling, but your work in the world does not necessarily have to be your calling.
I can, but I want to be very clear right off the bat that it's all a lie. All steps are just abstract; we always want a method, but in fact every life is unique. And one of the most interesting things about calling and vocation is that it's more of a spiral than a step. You go to a certain level, and then you have to go back down to incorporate everything you left behind. This is why when people are about to change careers, very often they go back and pick up a thread from their past.
Having said this, we can look at a step model that will give us suggestions and help us proceed into our authenticity. I work with seven of them.
A: This is actually a very good point, and we have to be mature and historically aware in this practice. If you are living outside of the mainstream center of gravity in this culture, chances are that you will have a difficult time earning a living. That means if you are sensitive, intelligent, and evolved, you will have a harder time earning a living than if you were insensitive, unintelligent, and unevolved.
This path requires great courage. You must have the courage to follow your own star and make your contribution even if you earn less money.
When we look cross-culturally and across time, we see that there are different types of cultures on the planet: there are gift cultures and there are utilitarian cultures, for example. The truth is that your calling is a gift--it's a gift you've been given. And sometimes to commodify that gift can actually be counterproductive.
Life alignment does not mean that you have to use your gift in the marketplace. Sometimes it does mean that; sometimes you can and it works. But sometimes people take their work into the marketplace, and it completely destroys the creativity--they get appropriated by money and power. Look at someone like Jack Kerouac who just got eaten alive by media and publicity. So what you do in alignment is you follow your calling, but if it's necessary, you find work that will support your calling. Look at the great American poets--Wallace Stevens sold insurance; T. S. Eliot was a banker; William Carlos Williams was a doctor.
The trick is that if you can open to a true alignment of abundance, passion, purpose, and sharing, the work you do for sustenance will not block or obstruct your calling. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar's as long as it doesn't destroy the gift that God has given you to share with the world.
In sum, I have seen that the idea that my work in the world has to necessarily pay for everything is not necessarily helpful.
Let me take this one step further. At different times of your life, you may have different forms of alignment; at different times of your life, you may work for money and do your art on the side. At different times of your life, you may find community that supports your art. My point is: if you make your commitment to what's important to you and what your calling is, you will be supported. You may not be supported by that calling; however, you will be supported.
This type of alignment is really a coming into maturity. The idea that I'm going to find this ideal job that's going to take care of everything is kind of like the Utopian fantasy that people have about relationships; it's not wanting to do the work. When you do your work, you will be supported.
If you're not passionate about anything and it doesn't bother you, there's no problem. If you spend your life eating lunch, playing tennis, watching TV, and you're happy, then who am I or anybody else to judge? But if you're asking the question, this points to the fact that there's already something inside of you that feels that you should be doing more. This is what we want to get at.
One of the ways that we destroy vocation is by comparing ourselves to someone else. "Oh, they're so passionate; they're so energetic,"--and I'm just kind of messing around. I find that the abundant response is to live your own life, not somebody else's. And if you're not passionate about anything, and it doesn't bother you, hey, let's meet and have a coffee. But if you're asking the question, it probably does bother you on some level. So then the question is: how can I cast a wider net? How can I open up my consciousness to become magnetized by my true passion?
But be aware, passion takes many different forms. Perhaps another way of saying it that might be more helpful is: what do I care about? And the thing about abundance is that when you are in abundance, you allow yourself to care about what you really do care about, not what you think you should care about. So if what you care about is who won the game in the playoffs, if what you care about is the quality of your tea in the morning, that's fine. Can we be open and honest enough to receive the gift of care?
My experience is that everybody cares about something; we've just been sold a bill of goods that says some cares are appropriate and some are not.
This is a very good question. In the old days when people were hunting, the lifespan was only twenty to thirty years; at that time everyone had a single life purpose--to survive. As our human form moved through the Agrarian, Industrial, and into the current Information age, many of us may live to age 100. Now, the idea of a single life purpose or a job for life is completely antiquated. It comes from a Protestant ethic that no longer applies in a polymorphous society.
You will likely have many life purposes, and they will reveal themselves at different times in your life. Alignment means being attuned to what's attracting your attention and responding to it in an honest and honorable manner. Most of us are going to have many jobs, walk down many paths, and this is part of the variegated and beautiful tapestry that is our existence.
It's both. There are two competing doctrines of manifestation and life alignment. One says: be with what is, love what is, don't go any further away than what is, and anything else is a fantasy; just love what you have. The other doctrine says: open to what can be; imagine what can be; go beyond where you are. My feeling in this regard is that we need both, that if we don't accept where we are, if we don't love what is, we're constantly trying to escape from the now, and we will end up creating disempowering ideals. However, if we didn't have an ideal of what we could be and create, we'd still have slavery, women wouldn't have the vote, and so on. The energetic of hope for an ideal is inherent within the human soul. We need that. But we need to do it mindfully.
My experience here is that the most important thing is not the letters individuals have next to their names. It is really not important that a person is a "career counselor" or a psychologist or an astrologer. What's important is that you work with someone who can see you, someone who really gets you, and someone who has natural resonance with what your path is. What we're looking for here is a mentor—not a teacher, parent figure, or "expert" who is going to tell us what to do, but someone who has a certain inherent sympathy with us who can understand our possibilities.
I think it's extremely important to connect with somebody else who can help you through the doorway; it seems to be part of the human condition that we need other people. But whether they're a career counselor or a shamanic diviner really doesn't matter. When your antennas are open, you'll feel and know when you connect with somebody who can help you. Call in your allies. Don't worry about the letters next to someone's name.
Additional teachings and guided exercises by Dr. Rick Jarow: Exercises 1, 7, 18, and 19
The following answers were provided by Vicki Robin, best-selling author of Your Money or Your Life. For more information about Vicki and her work, please see www.yourmoneyoryourlife.info.
Join financial visionary and author of the best-selling book Your Money or Your Life, Vicki Robin, as she explores a working definition of money that encompasses all aspects of our experience--from the practical dimensions at the ground floor up to the deeply rooted psychological, emotional, and cultural levels. When money is seen as an exchange of your own precious life energy, you are able to begin to transform your relationship with it in a way that brings about deep awareness and freedom.
What is money, really? We need a reliable definition of money that addresses all levels of your being: physical, psychological, and emotional. I want you to imagine concentric circles. The central circle is money at a "transactional" level--your daily transactions with money. It's the pieces of paper, metal, and plastic in your wallet. It's your bank account, bank balances, and your investments. Most of the teachings out there about money are concerned with this transactional level. It's very important to be clear in this transactional level of money. But that's not the totality of what money is.
So imagine the next ring out from this: your emotional relationship with money. How do you feel in the presence of money? Do you feel empowered? Do you feel frightened? Is money your friend? Is money your enemy? Is money an expression of divine love? Is money the tool of the devil? Does money make people good? Does money make people bad?
There are so many ways in which we think about money; most are largely unconscious. There are streams of messages moving through our minds, in the form of self-talk, that fly by so fast you barely know they are there. If you think about it, you probably learned about money from your parents. When you think about it, you see that your parents are two unique individuals with two distinct money streams. Often, for example, a tightwad will marry a spendthrift, and then you know there will be battles about money: "How could you spend that much!?" or "Why won't you let me have such and such!?"
Perhaps you grew up in an environment like this, around battles about money. Sometimes you sided with your mom, sometimes with your dad--trying to figure it out. You weren't even trying to reconcile the various messages, but just had them both. Further, in many families, money is a demonstration of "I'm successful" or even "Money is not important, and I shouldn't care about it." So we go through with all these inner conflicts about money.
The key here is being able to decode all of this for yourself. Look into your own life and ask: What are these messages that I've received? If I stop and listen to myself, what do I think money is? How do I feel about it? Do I feel nervous when my bank accounts get low? Do I feel, "Oh, heck, I'll just go into debt; it doesn't really matter," "I'll pay it off at the end of my life," or "My heirs will pay it off"?
Just watching your emotional relationship with money allows you the chance to get clear with what is there. "Clear" here is not referring to the messages disappearing, but being aware of them and not being run by them; not always having to obey the voices in your head, but being able to be "choice-ful" about what voices you listen to. Then perhaps there are new voices that arise that are deeper and wiser voices in relationship with money.
When you get clear in the area of your emotional relationship with money, you can see that your daily transactions will naturally clear up because you're not going to be earning and spending money in service to some frightened little four-year-old who was trying to survive with his or her parents.
So that's the second layer, the emotional layer. Then there's a cultural layer around that one. There are cultural messages about money, and in particular, what I really want to talk about here, is the core cultural message that we've lived inside of, in North America and increasingly in the world: this idea of "more is better." It's so deep that we don't even think about it.
It goes like this: If I have one widget, two is better. If I have two widgets, two blouses, two pairs of shoes, well, three would be better. If I'm at a certain income level, then more would be better, having more money coming in. Nobody wants to go to less money per year because that's sort of losing the status; that's sort of falling out of this dominant cultural narrative that more is better.
The interesting thing about this is that it's a formula for dissatisfaction, though we think it's a formula for satisfaction. If I get the more I think will be better, then life will be better; that's obvious, right? But if you realize that when you get the more you thought was going to be better--whether it's more clothes or more success or more money or a bigger house or a better car or whatever--that cultural idea that more is better is in fact still there. When you get that more that you've been hankering after--you've been reading the catalogs, gone online, seen the showrooms, seen your friends get it--in your mind is still that little old cultural thought of more is better.
So perhaps you have the thing; you get it. But it goes from infinitely satisfying to not sufficient. Because you still think more would be better, you start the restless searching for what is the more that would be better. It can be really useful to ask yourself: how do I feel this nervous little feeling inside me that more is better?
So you define the next more that would be better. "You know, I'm not married. If I had a better relationship, then it would work, then life would be better, if I got a girlfriend or a boyfriend."
So you get the more you think is going to be better, and it is better for a moment, and then you still think that more is better. So off you go looking for the next more that's going to be better. And it is better for a moment, but then you still think that more is better so . . . it just goes on and on and on. You can see that this cultural idea of more is better is a formula for dissatisfaction.
Who does serve? It doesn't serve you. It serves the industrial growth economy. It serves the growth is good economy because that economy always has to grow. If you are convinced that more is better, that economy is going to continue in its progress. I'm not saying this is a wrong thing per se. I'm just suggesting that we become aware of the conditioning in which we live and have some power, clarity, and control over our emotional lives. Again, this awareness and clarity will all trickle down to the transactional level. You start to see that if you think more is better, and you don't have the more you think is better, you're going to feel depressed and sad, a loser. So your emotional domain gets all riled up, and then of course your daily transactions get riled up as a result.
Let's just look very briefly at this industrial growth economy. The very way our money is created drives this conditioning. In truth, money is not like a little pile of dollar bills in the treasury. Money is loaned into being by banks. When you take out a loan, the bank writes you a check. The bank, however, has only a fraction of that money in their vault; it does not have it all. Through that loan they're creating that $10,000 that they loaned you, and you've gone into debt. Every dollar in your wallet represents a debt to the bank. But not only are you in debt for that $10,000, but there's 5 percent interest on that. So you're in debt for more money, which means the economy has to grow to produce more money so that you are able to pay back your loan.
What I want you to take away from this is that money itself--the way the whole industrial growth economy is structured, in terms of financial expansion--drives this more is better idea. If we let go of that idea, we're sort of being disloyal to the major story that we live inside of, which has become toxic to the planet.
This idea has driven us into an economic expansion, and in the year 1986, it became apparent that this economic expansion inside a limited planet was actually drawing down the resources of the earth. That's the year that we started into ecological debt, where every year we're spending more of the earth's resources than can be regenerated.
It's like getting an allowance. Originally, not only did it last from Monday to Monday, but you were able to put a little in savings. Then it started to last only from Monday to Sunday. So we're going into ecological debt every year; we're in a condition of overshoot, using more than we have, consistently. And it's not just financially, but ecologically; this is the cultural context that we live inside of.
Once you get clear about this, it doesn't matter whether I want a new car or don't want a new car; a new car is a hunk of the planet--all of the parts and pieces in that car are pieces of the planet. Thus, by buying the car, I've drawn up out of the body of the earth. It's been manufactured, it's been transported hither and yon to be assembled, I use it for a certain period of time, and then off it goes into the junkyard. That is the planet flowing through my life.
The point of this approach to money and the point of this understanding is to develop a sense of respect for the resources of the earth, such that every time something passes through, even just a little pen, we want to appreciate and love that pen and know where it came from. It's such a sense of privilege that you have that pen and can use it well and wisely. And then when you dispose of it, do so as properly as you can.
So that's the sense of what we live inside of: this growth is good, more is better mentality about money. Once you're clear with that, then your emotional reactions and your daily transactions will clear up.
Money is a human artifact. There's nothing in nature that invented money. Nature is all about reciprocity and proportion, territoriality, relationship--that's what nature is about. And any species that starts to overrun the bounds of its niche will become a bad actor in the system, crashing it until it can regenerate.
Now let's go back to you. Here you are, in the middle of all this, trying to get this clear for yourself. And what you can actually know about money in your own life is that you invest yourself in activity called work or investing. You invest yourself in an activity--the hours of your life--and at intervals you receive money in exchange.
Money is the life energy you invest in earning it. That's a real definition of money. That's what the clear relationship with money is based on. Money is my life energy; it's the hours of my life I invest in putting the dollars or pesos or francs or whatever in my wallet. And once you know that, it's pretty transformational because your life is all you have. You have your seventy, eighty, ninety years on this planet. None of us know how many years, but it is a finite period of time. And everything you want for your life--all the loving and giving and serving and learning and playing and adventuring and meditating and walking and hiking and sitting and glorying in a beautiful day--all of that is going to happen in let's say those seventy-two years. And you're to spend a third of them sleeping, so it's even less.
You want to be sure that the hours you invest in the workplace to put the money in your wallet are spent well and wisely, that actually those hours are buying you a life you love. So when you know that money is your life energy, and your life energy is limited, you get clear that there's a lot more that you want to do and be in life than just a "95 till you're 65" wage slave. This is when you start to have a very different relationship with money.
Join financial visionary and best-selling author of Your Money or Your Life, Vicki Robin, as she explores the magical "enoughness" of life. Through a careful examination of your own conditioning around finances and the "more is better" cultural paradigm, you learn to bring awareness and transformation into your relationship with money.
How much is enough, of anything? Since we live in a more is better world, this question is actually quite radical--it actually interrupts the whole story. Because the point of life is not to have more, more, more--the point is to have enough, to have everything you want and need and nothing in excess. I'd like you imagine a graph. On the vertical axis of this graph is happiness and contentment, and on the horizontal access of the graph is money spent or stuff acquired.
If you keep this in your mind you can see that early in life, when you really have nothing, every little bit of consumption brings you an incredible amount of satisfaction. For example, you're a baby, you're starving, and you get a bottle; wow, your satisfaction goes way up. Or you're wet, and you get your diaper changed, and your satisfaction goes way up.
You can also think about it developmentally: not only in an individual life, but in the life of a culture, you can see that a culture where people may or may not have food, clothing, and shelter, tremendous fulfillment is present through the meeting of these needs. If you don't have shelter and somehow are able to get your family indoors, that's incredible; "stuff" really does make you happy at that point in your life.
Then you go on in life, and you start acquiring more things. You're a kid, and you get your first baseball bat, your first love, a bicycle, a doll, a new toy, or whatever. These are some of your first-time experiences of consumption outside of the basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. They actually do bring you real happiness; like wow, I got the thing that I always wanted.
And if you think about it culturally, it's not just our survival needs, but now we're getting into comforts. It's not just a roof over your head, but it's a bed off the floor or a couch, and maybe it's an even better couch or maybe it's going from the one that you got off the street with the springs popping out to something you actually bought that you really like.
At this level of consumption, you can see that "more is better" is still working, because every time you get the more, it really is better. And so in this part of your life, which usually lasts for a couple of decades, more is better is actually functioning and somewhat working. You get programmed--your whole biosystem gets programmed--to have a feeling of restlessness. You begin to look around at how you're going to fill this hunger for something that you feel within. It's not just the physical hunger at play here, but it's the emotional hunger, the intellectual hunger, and the social hunger as well.
You start to look for something that you could spend some money on because your experience has been, in the past, that that's going to make life better. And actually it really does make your life better in these earlier times. For example, everybody remembers their first car. So this is that part of life where more is better is getting programmed into you still, and maybe this lasts up until a couple of decades into your life. Due to this programming, at an unconscious level, you continually have the thought: I have a feeling of need, whether it's a physical need, an emotional need, an intellectual need, a cultural need, or a meaning need. And you start to look around for what you can buy or otherwise bring into your life--how you can add more to your life so that it will be better. You had that experience in the past, and you know that it works, and you want to replicate it.
You continue to move through life, and whether through a big purchase, a special purchase, or even certain unnecessary purchases, you still find that you can add some value to your life by acquiring more. Maybe you're renting, and you actually buy your first house. Today these are called "starter" homes. Historically, they were simply called your "house," but now they're starter houses. You get your first house, and it's just so thrilling--making it into a real home and knowing that it's yours and knowing you can do whatever you want, there's a real sense of happiness.
It doesn't necessarily have to be big like that. It could be something small. For me, one of the luxuries in my life, that I love so much, is cut flowers. Is that necessary for my survival? Some people would say I'd rather give up food than cut flowers. It's not even a basic comfort in life, but for me, having a beautiful bouquet of flowers in my home is such an experience of joy and fulfillment that I'm willing to buy them. So what if they come from South America; I want them.
There are these things that we call "luxuries" in our lives--things that are over the top in terms of fulfillment, and they might cost a lot of money. But they still bring you happiness. So you go on, and then you get to an interesting point on the curve on this graph. It's going up and up and up: more better, more better, more better, more better. And then there's a point where you get the more you think is going to be better and, in fact, it's not. Aha!
For example, you get your second house, and it doesn't bring you anywhere near the fulfillment of your first house. In fact, you discover that there's a problem with the plumbing that wasn't found in the inspection. You actually have to have all the plumbing redone. And it's sort of depleting your bank account even more, and you can't move in for months while the work is being done. So you get this house, and you think that, wow, this first house was great; the second house should be really great, but you're not experiencing the increment of fulfillment that you got from your first house, or even from your first bicycle. You don't get that thrill even. You have just bought yourself a very expensive set of problems.
You realize that this new purchase is not actually giving you a better life in the way you thought it would. Interestingly, though, you still have this patterned thought of more is better running in the background. You know it is possible to get something that will make life better. Okay, so, it's not the house. Oh, it's the car. If I had this Lexus, then I'd be happy. So you go out and spend a lot more money, and you get this really fancy car; then you get a Rolex or a yacht or whatever. You get these symbols of happiness and success and achievement.
But somehow or another, your Lexus (your fifth car) doesn't bring you as much happiness as your first car. And as a matter of fact, after a couple of weeks, it's really just the thing you get around in. So it doesn't bring you happiness. You still think, however, that money buys happiness, and you still believe more is better, so what's the more that's going to make this better? You ask: how can I compensate for the unhappiness I have through further consumption?
Well, now we're going down the downside of this curve; the curve has topped out, and we're heading down. Next, you begin to think: Oh, no, no, no, it's not "stuff," it's experience that's going to do it. I'm going to go on that eco-tourism trip to the Galapagos; that is the ultimate. Or to Costa Rica. Or I'm going to go do a service trip, or I'm going to go see the great museums in Europe--whatever it is. I'm going to take my family for a trip to Hawaii. It's experience, not stuff, that's going to make my life better and more fulfilled.
"See, I've matured out of stuff," you say. "I know it's experience that's going to do it." So you go on these experiences, and you find that actually they're not, in proportion to the money they're costing, really doing it. Maybe the first was a big thrill, but the second is not such a big thrill, and the third is, well, you're uncomfortable, the mosquitoes, you've got dengue fever, whatever.
So it's not experience. I can't make my round peg fit into the square hole of the culture. My life isn't getting better, and I'm spending more and more. So there's something wrong with me. I'll just do those workshops, you know, the ones where everybody comes out and says, "Oh, I'm so happy." I'm going to start doing workshops. And the workshops maybe work, but maybe don't, and you're spending a lot of money on workshops and consuming a lot of your time and thinking, "I still can't make myself happy. I think I need to spend some more money because really it's going to work. It worked when I was seven; it should work now.
You then have an aha moment. Therapy, that's it. Just to be clear, I'm not against therapy or workshops or ecotourism trips. I'm just saying that we keep functioning with this programmed idea that more will be better, but it's not working. Instead of questioning the paradigm, you question yourself.
If we don't wake up from this process, we'll just keep trying to buy the more that should be better and isn't better, and eventually we'll drive ourselves into the grave, never having woken up and having accumulated a tremendous amount of stuff and debt that didn't make us happy.
So the point of life, really, has got to be to identify the peak of this curve--which we call the fulfillment curve--when you have everything you want and need. You have everything that contributes to your life and every ounce of your life energy--money and time--is contributing to your "enough point," to your sense of sufficiency, contentment, and happiness. You don't want to go down the other side of the fulfillment curve; you don't accumulate things that don't contribute to your happiness and, in fact, may contribute to your unhappiness. Because it's more stuff to store and clean and figure out how to use or send back to the manufacturer or put in your garage and eventually sell on eBay.
It's just more stuff.
I'm talking about waking up to this idea that the point of your material life is to be able to sense and have an internal yardstick for fulfillment--to have an internal sense of when you arrive at that "enough" point, and to not take another bite of stuff. It's like having tuned in to your appetite and knowing when you're fulfilled, and then not consuming more.
We're trying to awaken to this enough point, but the thing about enough is that it is out of time and space, really. We think, "Well, okay, I've corrected; I now know; I've woken up. I know that more isn't better." But then you get into another cookie cutter mold that says: less is more; less is better. I'll have less; I'll focus my life on less. And then you focus on less until you bite so deeply into your fulfillment that you drive yourself down the other side of the fulfillment curve--through comforts down into austerity, never paying attention to that point of satisfaction and awareness called "enough."
Knowing how much is enough is being able to tune in to your own inner processes, whether it is your bodily hungers, emotional hungers, intellectual hungers, spiritual hungers, hungers for the world, or hungers for service--being able to tune in to every single one of those and being able to say this is the right thing for me. And it's an alive point because you don't arrive there and then spend the rest of your life in stasis.
Being able to be at that enough point is being able to be aware--now, now, now, now, now--how much is enough of what I'm engaged in right now, such that I can liberate myself into the next moment when I can be engaged fully and in an aware way for the next moment and the next and the next.
I would call this the power of enough. It's like the power of now--the power of being able to be aware of when you have everything that you want and need, and nothing in excess.
If you can identify this enough point for yourself--through having an internal yardstick for fulfillment--no matter what the Joneses do, you know for yourself that you're happy. You're happy with your lot in life. But you also tend to have a purpose in life larger than just filling your needs, wants, and desires--having a sense that life is about more than myself, more than me; you have a sense of responsibility to the larger world; your life comes into proportion. Because if your life is just me first, second, third, and last, if life is just about satisfying yourself without regard to the impact of your life on others and without some attention to the moral and ethical need to contribute to life, then you'll never know how much is enough because no matter how much you have it will never be enough.
When you take a look at the fulfillment curve and you arrive at that enough point, it doesn't mean that you'll never get another scrap of anything to consume. It simply means that once you have enough stuff to support a life you love, then further fulfillment doesn't come from getting more. Further fulfillment comes from giving. It comes from creativity, it comes from giving to others, it comes from reciprocity, it comes from spiritual development, and it comes from service. Further fulfillment comes from what you can draw up from within yourself and express into the world rather than what you can grab from the world and insert into this little circle called "my life."
People who have enough have that sense, and they also have a sense of accountability. They actually pay attention, moment by moment, to the things or the money that come into and out of their lives. And they can say--you know, on average--if I buy this amount of food, if I consume this amount of food, that's my enough point. And I know how much that is. It's not some sort of vague thing of "I should" or "I ought to" or "everybody else does." It's clear.
The point of this approach to money is for you to be able to identify your own enough point, on a consistent basis, so that you really can have a life that you love.
The approach we advocate in Your Money or Your Life is based on awareness rather than on a "budget" or "hints and tips." No one knows better than you what you spend money on that doesn't bring you bang for your buck, happiness for money spent. First I suggest you actually contemplate money. Take out a $10 bill (or $1 or $5 or $20) and recognize it as representing a portion of your brief time here on this earth. You paid for it with your time, which is why we call money "life energy." Second, I suggest you use a series of questions before buying something.
Here are a few suggestions, but you may know of others that will better provoke you to think:
If you are asking how to invest money to get a financial return, then it's good to realize that nothing in the material world is without cost and karma. You might invest in windmills and find they are destroying bird populations. You might invest in a state of the art long-term care facility and discover that people die there of neglect. Making money is participating in a web of cause and effect that we don't control. It is important to be honest about that and then do your best to do good while doing well.
This said, you can put extra money into local credit unions that are committed to your community. You can invest in organic food production, preferably locally but also on a larger scale. You can invest in a rental property in your community and make it safe and lovely for the people who pass through. You can invest in making your home as energy efficient as possible, saving money and the planet over the longer haul. You can invest in your own great idea for a business or service. You can invest in education that will give you the information, knowledge, techniques, and skills to make you a more useful, productive, caring, and aware person. That will do more good than harm--if you actually use what you learn to serve others.
Most important, you can invest your time in your values. Liberate hours from making money to "make love"--generate a sense of acceptance and connection in your family and community. Discover how much is enough and just transfer your creative energy from having more money and stuff to serving Life, whatever that means to you.
Gratitude is the key. Cultivate gratitude for what you do have, not disappointment about what you wanted to have but currently can't afford. Have gratitude that you've been able to pay your bills to date. Have gratitude when you do pay your bills for the pleasure and fun and nourishment you got from what you bought with the money. When you pay your dentist bill, have gratitude for healthy teeth (and a determination to floss more so healthy teeth doesn't cost so much). Have gratitude when you make your mortgage payment for your warm and sheltering home (and a determination to rent out an unused bedroom to offset the cost). Have gratitude when you pay your energy bill for the cooked meals and warm evenings and fridge that hums while it keeps your food cold (and a determination to turn the thermostat down by a degree and to take shorter showers). So much stuff goes through our lives unnoticed and unappreciated. It's the lack of gratitude that determines waste. If we paid for stuff in gratitude rather than money, we'd "buy" very little because it takes so much of ourselves to truly appreciate all that goes into a toothbrush, a pot, a dish, a sheet, a pair of shoes.
The following answers were provided by Dr. Rick Jarow, professor, author, and visionary career counselor. For more information about Dr. Jarow's work, please see www.rickjarow.com.
Abundance is a phenomenal concept and a very challenging one because it is relatively new. One of the challenges with the idea of abundance is that it is too often misconstrued as having a lot of stuff. It is clear, however, that people can have a lot of stuff and still be anxious, depressed, and lonely.
Abundance is also so difficult because we come from an evolutionary history of predatorship. In our DNA, in our genes, there is imprinted this dynamic of "the eater" and "the eaten." This pattern has been going on since time out of mind. And it's only in the human form of life, arguably, that we have had the chance to get out of the fear-based reality that someone is going to eat us.
The more you develop trust in yourself, trust in life, surrender to the now, and cultivate genuine gratefulness, the more you will open to the ever-present abundance. And ultimately you feel so full, so satisfied, that this sense of abundance flowers as compassion. You come to see that don't need anything. You're coming from a place of giving, not because it's a good or right thing to do, but because the fountain of abundance is flowing through you.
If we go back for a moment to this analogy of the eaters and the eaten, or as the Vedic scriptures say, "One life form feeds on another," the question that I always wondered is: who eats us? And there are two answers to that. On one level, all of us are being eaten by time. And most of us go kicking and screaming, whether it's plastic surgery or clothes that hide our midriff bulge or whatever. But if we live from abundance and are no longer afraid of loss, instead of being eaten, the human being can offer himself or herself to the universe. We offer ourselves as a living offering to life. To me that is the flowering of abundance--that we're no longer afraid of letting go; we're no longer afraid of losing anything, because we understand that we are part of everything.
Abundance is about an evolution of humanity from fear to a civilized stasis to divine beatitude. And in its highest forms, it reveals itself as compassion and grace. But on the very practical level, if we can stop worrying about what's going to happen to us and open with gratefulness to what's around us, we're in a much better position to manifest our talents, proclivities, passions, and all the rest of it.
This answer provided by Dr. Rick Jarow, professor, author, and visionary career counselor. For more information about Dr. Jarow's work, please see www.rickjarow.com.
Manifestation is a challenging concept because there is an inherent habit alive in some of us to turn this idea into a slogan that we can capitalize on. A lot of people speaking about abundance and manifestation today are simply contemporary versions of the riverboat confidence men of a few generations ago--selling magic elixirs to people that are going to make everything wonderful.
The common idea that you can think on something and it's going to happen is incredibly sophomoric. It reveals a complete lack of understanding of what thought actually is, of who the author of thought is, of how we are deeply impacted within the center of gravity of culture and evolution.
So we have to be careful as to how we use terms such as "abundance" and "manifestation," if we want to have any integrity at all.
Manifestation literally means "that which is made visible." Indian scriptures talk about that which is manifest and that which is hidden, that which is not visible. Just because something is invisible does not mean it doesn't exist; it just means it hasn't manifested in front of us. So in its most concrete from, manifestation as refers to the visible reality that to our senses is created through us and around us.
I see this view of manifestation as opposed to what I consider to be a really deficient idea also common in our modern day world: we create our own reality. I would prefer someone saying "Ah, look's what happened." Otherwise, we have people diagnosed with cancer or finding themselves in a horrific auto accident believing it was their "fault"--if people subscribe to the idea that they consciously create their reality, then they feel incredibly guilty when things go wrong. And things definitely eventually do go wrong on this plane of existence.
So manifestation is simply the visible reality around us--what we can hear, see, taste, touch, and smell.
Why this concept is important is because for years, the life denying traditions--particularly the spiritual traditions, but also traditions that were connected to economic growth--have said that what's manifest is not important. Rather, what's important is within you. The kingdom of God is within you, so we can just let the world destroy itself. What's important about manifestation is the imminent interpenetrating, tantric, if you will, ecological view of life that understands that spirit is all pervasive and that there's as much spirit and love in a stone, in a book, in a tree, as there is inside an introspective heart turned to God.
So, therefore, every basket we weave, every building we build, every cup of coffee we make, every step we take, is just as important as every prayer we say. And that's why manifestation is significant; an understanding that the inner and the outer worlds reflect off of each other, that they are not in fact different.
What is the good of being in bliss and being free from fear if the minute you walk out your door you lose it?
So the teachings of manifestation, at their best, have to do with opening us, helping us to live more intelligently, more compassionately and to create a physical world that can be the vessel of the spirit--not something that denies spirit.
Try a manifestation meditation in exercises section.
God couldn't care less if you have a new car or a new house. The question is: do you care? God couldn't care less what car you drive and how much money you have, because when you die, all of that is going to vanish. But do you care? You need to be authentic and honest about what you care about. If you don't care about money, then you don't need it. But if you say you don't care about money, but you get envious of everyone else who has it, then you have a misalignment.
So if you don't feel right asking for things, then why should you? You don't need to. You're free of that. You've gone beyond that. But it sounds to me that if you ask that question, there's a little bit of doubt there. A friend of mine once left the United States and traveled all the way to West Bengal to find a guru, who immediately told him: go back to the United States and work for five years. He worked at a bank, and he made a lot of money, and he did a lot of good with it.
The point is: none of it matters. The only thing that matters is that your heart is clear, happy, and free. You can be abundant living in a hut, or you can be abundant living in a mansion. It doesn't matter.
Excellent question. You have to start from within. When you get up in the morning and listen to the birds, be thankful for the music. Every day when you walk out of your house and go to work, be thankful for your life. If you fast, not from food, but from complaining, if you can stop complaining and just be open to everything as grace, your whole life will turn around amazingly. Be thankful for your challenges. Understand that everything that happens to you is for your own education. It's a teaching. And when you get the message, you can hang up the phone.
Many of our original spiritual scriptures contain confusing statements about money and abundance. Do I have to choose between spiritual and material success?
The problem with all of these scriptures is that they were written by many different people at different times. And it's time in our awareness of the living traditions that we're mature enough to understand that the absolute truth is often more quirky, curved, and suggestive than literal and straight.
Yes, there are passages in the Bible, for example, that talk about the fact that a rich man has as much chance entering heaven as does a camel going through the eye of a needle. But there are other passages in the Bible where Jesus says: I have come to give you life and to give you life abundantly. This old dichotomy between the material and the spiritual is what we're trying to transform, what we're trying to overcome.
No, you don't have to choose between the two. What you have to choose between is selfishness and selflessness, and that works on a graduated plane. You don't become free of self-interest or free of self-motivation overnight. The Jataka tales speak about the five hundred past lives of the Buddha, where he worked all of his stuff out over very long periods of time.
We are not asked to be perfect. We're asked to be authentic about who we are, what we want, and what we're doing here. In order to do that, we need to have the abundance to stop comparing ourselves to other people and, at the same time, to look around and see the people in the world who have done things or modeled a way of living that inspires us. This is our lineage.
The truth is that you can't do everything. You have to do what is inherent, natural, easy, effortless, and true for you. So when you find people who inspire you, that's a good barometer of what is an authentic path for you.
Yes, we cocreate our reality, but we do not do it consciously. If you were conscious, you wouldn't be in the position you're in. So it is true that our thought forms magnetize concrete situations. It is also true that our thought forms are conditioned by thousands of years of history. So the actual transformation of thought and the transformation of reality and the transformation of humanity is a very, very slow and subtle process.
I once had a man in his eighties at an ashram in India tell me: if you can change one habit in a lifetime, you've done good work. Our problem is that we're always in a hurry. And that turns out to be counterproductive.
So, yes, we are cocreating reality all the time. The crux of all this is your quality of attention. Because there is truth to the fact that whatever you place your attention upon or wherever your attention goes, that area in your life will tend to expand. Your responsibility is to manage your attention, to be honest, clear, and aware about what's flirting with your attention, what's attracting your attention, and what is demanding your attention.
If you could respond compassionately, clearly, and honestly, above all, to these things, then you will not have to suffer having something command your attention. For as Carl Jung put it, what is not met with consciousness will be met as fate.
The following question was answered by Spencer Sherman, CEO of Abacus Wealth Partners and author of The Cure for Money Madness: Break Your Bad Money Habits, Live without Financial Stress--and Make More Money! Find more from Spencer Sherman at www.curemoneymadness.com.
How do I let go of guilt spending money on things I need but imagine I could get for a cheaper price elsewhere? When shopping, I find myself saying what my mother said to me in the store so many years ago: "We could make that."--90 percent of the time we didn't. Or I find myself saying, "You could buy four pairs of pants for the price of one if you go to a thrift store instead."
It's important to recognize that there is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to save money. It's a good instinct and should indeed be part of everyone's financial planning, but the instinct can run amok, leaving us unable to experience joy around the money we have that we can afford to spend.
What can you afford to spend? Sit down and look at the numbers. The task may be daunting, but ultimately it will help liberate you from your money madness. You may discover that, mathematically, you can comfortably afford a much larger stipend for clothing than you allow yourself. Or you may discover that spending much less will do much more for your bottom line.
Either way, it's important to appreciate that this notion from your childhood--that you should feel guilty for paying anything but the rock-bottom price on items you want or need--is just that: a notion, not a truth, not a law of the universe. The source of your guilt isn't a solid fact, but someone's opinion about life based on his or herexperience.
Then, marry your awareness of the numbers with your awareness of the emotional angle by creating an Intentional Spending Statement. An ISS isn't based on the hard and fast numbers of budgeting, but on a realistic range of spending options--anything between the least amount we think is reasonable for what's needed and the most amount that we can afford to spend on the item. A budget number is a limit--"I will spend not a penny more than $75 on running shoes at the mall today"--while an intention, perhaps a range of from $65 to $95 for running shoes, offers a field of choice. And where a budget is hard to stick to and rather easy to break or go around, an intention is wider in girth--tougher to avoid, yet with more give.
Over time, keep coming back to the numbers, keep reminding yourself that your childhood money message has no intrinsic truth, and practice managing your expenses with the structure and fluidity of intention. I think you'll find your guilt greatly diminished, and your mastery and joy around your money greatly increased.