The Role of Money in Our Life
ARCHITECTURE OF PROSPERITY
by Lenedra J.
people attempt to live their lives backwards; they try to have more
things, or more money, in order to do more of what they want, so they will
be happier. The way that it actually works is the reverse. You must first
be who you really are, then do what you love to do, in order to have what
you want. Margaret Young
From 1991 through 1993, I lived an
experiment of abundance. It was an experiment of faith and hope, one of
radically changing my ideas about my self-provision, a time of challenging
my most closely held fears and mythologies about money. Leaving Alaska
with only three hundred dollars, I landed in Seattle planning to start
over and rebuild my health. I stashed my two boxes of possessions with a
friend and flew to San Diego to meet with a natural health care pioneer,
Dr. Bernard Jensen. Two important things happened on that trip. I met Dr.
Ellen Jensen, his daughter-in-law and protιgιe, who figured prominently
in the restoration of my health, and I fell in love with San Diego. I
never did use my return ticket to Seattle.
During those three years I
concentrated primarily on my health, never working more than part-time,
and then only taking on work that fully suited my creativity, passion, and
health requirements. I found it necessary to completely reexamine my
beliefs and ideas about money. For example, I was aware that many of the
world's great visionaries whether entrepreneurs such as the Fords or
Rockefellers, or humanists such as Desmond Tutu or Mother Teresa
commenced their dreams successfully without financial resources. In spite
of these examples, I discovered that I deeply believed that money was the
basis of most of my own needs, and that my dreams could not move forward
without it. I could not write until I had money for a computer. It was not
possible for me to have a certain job, or take a trip, without money for a
car or money for gas. My son couldn't visit until I had money for airfare.
It all seemed to be about money; my entire life, in fact, seemed horribly
limited by lack of money. Though I knew better from my childhood
experiences of self-sufficiency in frontier Alaska, the fears and
misperceptions were deeply embedded in my psyche.
When I was young, we always had two
freezers full of meat and lots of favors outstanding in the community. My
father was often paid with fish, moose, and other game by local people
that he flew to the good hunting spots. He also frequently flew supplies
to people who lived a "subsistence" lifestyle. Money was not the
currency with them, barter was; they would fix a piece of machinery or
help wire a house. Remembering this, I began to examine my current ideas
about money and look for freedom from my beliefs.
Our Monetary Belief System
There are many ideas we have
accepted about money, value, lack, work, and worth. These ideas form a
belief system that creates the principles that we operate by regarding
money. They vastly influence our relationships and dreams. As an exercise,
I wrote down many of my personal beliefs as well as our cultural views
about money and reviewed them alongside my experiences of money. Upon
closer examination, I saw how commingled, confused, and conflicting this
have to work hard for money and if I don't put forth lots of effort I
will be poor.
respect me more if I have money. I respect people more if they have
earned it the hard way, everyone else should too.
not spiritual to have money; it's better to give than receive.
is wrong or weak to receive assistance from others.
all about who you know.
can't trust people who ask for money.
should help people who are in need.
I give money to probably misuse it.
should just get a job!
I have enough I will help others.
and humanitarian services should be free or at least darn cheap.
one should make that much money.
should be able to charge as much as they can.
I don't have enough money something bad will happen.
without money are losers, not interesting, charity cases, unhappy,
don't have anything to offer.
without money are better off, happier, have simpler lives, don't have
as many worries.
need a lot of money to be secure.
is never enough money.
is never too much money.
is not enough money to go around.
I get money it's hard to keep it.
need to save enough to last me forever.
depends on money.
can't accomplish my dreams without money.
takes money to make money.
can't make you happy.
can't be happy without money.
It fascinated me to also go through
the list substituting the word "money" with "power,"
or "love." Then for fun I tried the words "time" and
"success." These five concepts money, power, love, time, and
success are what we most commonly associate with wealth. As I looked
closely at the underlying beliefs, I discovered many useless ideas, even
lies. I began to question them all. What is the belief? Who says so? Does
it serve me to operate from that belief? Who will be upset if I don't? Why
do I care? What did I believe about it as a child? (We often knew better
then.) To change our relationship to prosperity, we must first see what
our current relationship to it is.
A Personal Economy
On Jewel's first tour of Europe we
were in a different country nearly every day. Before going shopping I
would get information about the local currency and exchange rate in each
new country and then dutifully make the conversions into dollars, trying
to understand the value of items we were purchasing. Pounds, lire,
drachmas, pesos, centimes, guilders, francs, krona; Germany, Belgium,
France, Spain, England, Italy, Norway, Sweden. Soon the currencies lost
all meaning for me since I could not readily understand what anything was
"worth." I stopped trying to keep track. Instead, I began asking
myself different questions: Do I need this item? Do I love it enough to
drag it around on tour with me? I entirely stopped asking, "How much
is it?" though that is the first question we ask under normal
circumstances. Suddenly, money had no value at all and the question of
value shifted from cost to the items' value to me.
The value of money is fluid as well
as relative. It grows and changes in one's life. We each have a personal
economy. The framework of our personal economy is created by factors such
as the region and culture we were reared in, financial circumstances of
our youth, events such as the Great Depression, religious beliefs, or
personality traits. These determine whether we dread tending to our money,
fear it, or handle it with ease, whether we value thrift, generosity,
luxury, where our comfort level is, and so forth.
It is important that we remember to
place ourselves in our own economy. It is important to determine what our
time is really worth and begin to value it. What is the value of our time?
It's not how much we are making, but what we are worth to ourselves. We
are the only ones who can spend time on our dreams. We may spend much of
our time on chores, for instance, out of a false sense of economy, when
our time would be far more productively spent developing a skill or
project. Daily we bump up against the value of money in our individual
economy. We may refuse to pay someone the thirty dollars to mow our lawn
or clean our house because we "cannot afford it," yet we wish we
had time to write or work with children, or take a class. We place
"what we can afford" in the primary position in our economy.
Meanwhile, our real life, our real self is indefinitely postponed. What we
say in this decision is that we value money more than our own time and
creativity. In doing this, we are devaluing our own dreams, demeaning our
passion, overriding choice and freedom, and not putting ourselves into the
equation of our generosity. And our dream suffers because the universe
responds to the primary message: Leave me out of the abundance equation.
I know we can become so bound by the
idea of what we cannot afford that we can hardly breathe, let alone take a
class or pay someone else to clean our house or mow the lawn. But I also
know that at the core it is never about the money. There is always a way
for the determined person to understand their purpose and dream, and be
guided to its fulfillment. There are moments in one's life when one has to
stretch, to risk, to leap forward naked into the wind.
Invest in Yourself
One of the greatest thinkers of our
time was Buckminster Fuller, scientist, writer, philosopher. He suggested
that everyone quit their jobs and just go home. And stay there until they
fully understood what is and is not necessary to do, what they are best
suited for, most passionate to do, and fulfilled in. Only then did he
recommend that we return to work, bringing those capacities and energies
to the table, and even then doing only what is truly necessary. If we did
this, he felt, we would have a vastly improved society.
Following high school I worked for
two weeks at a car rental company at Anchorage International Airport.
After just those two weeks of work, I felt dull and anxious and I was
appalled at the prospects for my life: endless, mind-numbing work, minimum
wage, one week vacation and some travel benefits after the first year.
This staggered my mind. I quit. I committed to myself that my work from
then on would be wonderful even if it paid me nothing, and I have never
Initially, I set a minimum wage for
myself of twenty-five dollars an hour and determined that I would either
get that wage in work that suited my creativity or make my hours
an investment in myself. It was surprising how much people objected to
this idea. Many argued emphatically with me, thinking me irresponsible,
unrealistic, or crazy. However, I never lowered my minimum wage, and over
the years I raised it to fifty dollars an hour. Following my divorce, I
seemed to be qualified only for minimum wage jobs or welfare. Neither was
a viable choice to me because they would not lead me out of my limited
circumstances. People in my life harangued and pressured me to "just
get a job." One person even sent in a McDonald's application for me!
Instead, I taught art and music
classes. I led self-help and spiritual development groups. These were some
of the ways I could meet my criteria. I developed a radio show, had a
newspaper column, produced two record albums, developed an art glass
business. There were many times that I worked for myself and received
little pay. But it was a choice I made to have personal freedom,
flexibility, and creative opportunity, which I value above money. Each
work effort shaped my skills, and brought me important personal growth,
leading me closer and closer to my most authentic self instead of farther
away. Later, when I left Alaska and was "living on the wind,"
there were times when I got extraordinary jobs because of my unwillingness
to work for less than my full value; on several occasions people invited
me to make up my own job. Courage, moxie, and passion are far better
stakes for one's future than cash.
If peace of mind is what you value,
then value it monetarily as well. If writing, or nature, or volunteer work
is vital to you be sure that it shows up in your personal economy. Value
yourself, value whatever is your lifeblood, value your thoughts and
dreams, your soul. Give them your power, your time and money, and energy.
In business, it is necessary to invest a good share of the earnings back
into the business so that it remains healthy and generative over time. In
the same way, your investment in yourself will bring the highest gain.
In my own personal economy I bank on
joy, fulfillment, and my values, on love, freedom, people, community,
creativity, nature, spiritual consciousness, on my own soul. These are my
riches. These are what form the foundation of my individual economy.
Developing them seems always to bring financial satisfaction.
prosperity consciousness is not dependent on money; your flow of money is
dependent on your prosperity consciousness. As you can conceive of more,
more will come into your life. Louise Hay
How It Really Works
Ten years ago a friend and I very
much wanted to take a class on spiritual development. The cost for the
half day was $65. He was affronted that a spiritual teacher would charge
so much, feeling that it excluded too many people. He opted not to take
the class. I felt that this was an exciting opportunity and, though I had
extremely limited finances, I paid the tuition.
I have, at times, had to pay as much
as $450 for just one hour of legal advice, or $125 for an hour of plumbing
services. I felt that if I didn't pay well for what I actually value most
the right opportunity for spiritual growth, for instance that I
was creating a strange valuation for my personal currency. And a skewed
message regarding my priorities.
When I first began in the music
industry, I had a steep learning curve and an overwhelming task load. Many
of those tasks were secretarial. The financial duties began to escalate as
well, and neither are areas of expertise or interest for me; quite the
opposite in fact. I had barely enough money to cover rent and food
this was early in Jewel's career, before there was much income. There was
no money, but I was not the right person to take care of the filing,
office organization, and bookkeeping. I made a decision to hire a
part-time assistant/bookkeeper even though it appeared she would receive
all of my meager earnings. Conventional wisdom seemed to dictate that it
was foolish to pay someone money I didn't have if I could do the tasks
However, I opted to trust that if I
positioned myself so that my best abilities and my joy could serve the
goal, this correct alignment would cause the money to expand to
accommodate it. And, magically, it did so. The woman I hired is still with
the company and is one of our most valuable employees. She brought with
her not only the support of her excellent skills but also her respect,
trust, and delight in the intuitive and spiritual methods by which I work.
This was invaluable to me at the time she was one of the few people
who understood and encouraged me. So the leap of faith had surprising
payoffs to me.
Money, Money Everywhere...
In the desert city of Tucson,
Arizona, the annual rainy season brings torrential downpours that flood
the streets and arroyos. Millions of gallons of water rush through this
town, but the city lives in drought conditions. Lacking rainwater
catchment systems, water is piped from the Colorado River at great expense
while water falls all around.
There is money all around us. While
doing taxes this year, two friends of mine looked at their total cash
outflow for the past three years, and they were shocked to discover that a
million dollars had flowed through their hands. They were millionaires and
didn't even realize it. Most of us would be surprised to see how much
total money flows in and out of our life. One of the reasons so little
stays with us is lack of catchment systems, or containers.
Our currency exists primarily in the
virtual reality of cyberspace. It is systems oriented a numerically
based binary structure of valuation. As such, it responds on the physical
level to structures and plans. It is made visible in tangible systems.
Money needs containers. One of those containers is a good financial
system. The system can be a simple one or a complex one, but for money to
be sticky to stick with us it needs a grid to attach to. That
system requires clarity, discipline, and order.
Our system reflects our beliefs and
fears about money. The truth is that we have a lot of pain and fear
surrounding our experience with money. Many of us want money but we don't
want to deal with it; we want to pretend it is not necessary to pay
attention to it. If we dread our accounts and keep them in chaos, if we
hate the practical necessities of money, that constant avoidance will
divert the flow around us. We are the most important container for our
money. When we are clear, when we truly have room for money, for
abundance, it will fill us, which is wonderful news.
To become "real," money
needs to be grounded. Outside my window, as I write, stand several
magnificent conifers. These ancient spruce are masterful containers. They
know how to collect energy from the grid that is this planet. They stretch
into the sky for its rich resources of sun, water, and pollinating wind,
and they ground deep into the soil for support and nourishment. Accessing
fully what both air and earth have to offer, they create the perfect
container so they can spread out branches filled with a wealth of life,
vitality, and abundant return into the system.
All too often we only have our heads
in the clouds when it comes to our finances. Money can be grounded by
creating and tending to systems and containers for it, and by moving
within to source our clarity and knowledge of providence.
When Jewel's first album became
successful, money began to pour into our coffers. The mounting sales and
touring augured even greater financial success to come. Many in the music
industry criticized me for not capitalizing more fully on this. "Get
more merchandise out there," they would say. "Do some
endorsement deals. You are missing big opportunities; you could be raking
in a lot of money."
I knew that quantum growth can
capsize an endeavor. It was not time to make more money. It was time to
pause, manage thoughtfully, and create larger containers. I formed a
financial team with the expertise to handle this new level of abundance. I
educated Jewel and myself to our new situation. Systems were put in place
and a plan laid to assure her financial security and to allow for
expansion. We were not planning for a rapacious gold rush career devised
to make as much money as possible while we could. We were planning for a
long-term career to serve artistic development and humanitarian goals. We
revisited our goals and questioned what we wanted to do with our money. We
established the channels it would move along, and by what means. And, as
importantly, we paused to understand ourselves in relationship to this new
abundance. A truly beautiful and expert system was created with very big
buckets and we began to watch them fill with delight.
My building contractor is a man who
has made the courageous decision to work on only one job at a time. He
believes that this is the way to provide the best service to the client
and the most quality in his own life. There was a moment when he and his
wife sat down and decided to understand their needs and ambitions in terms
of their value for family and their honor and pride in work. They decided
to forfeit the seemingly more profitable and secure method of juggling
numerous jobs at once because it meant the clients were not well served
and the longer hours brought him greater stress while taking him away from
the family. They agreed that a simpler life financially was preferable for
who they truly were. They determined not to give in to the fear that if
they didn't have several jobs going at once he would soon be out of work.
Because he loves his work, he chose to do it only at the level that
allowed him to maintain the highest quality.
They made the leap to trust Spirit
to provide the work. That was several years ago. He now says that not only
does the next job always appear at the right time, but the quality of
clients and jobs has vastly improved, bringing greater satisfaction into
his work. I so greatly respect his values, choices, and what he lives that
I am generous with him in bonuses and appreciation. Whenever possible in
my own economy, I value people who make such choices by being generous
with opportunities and/or financial reward. In addition, I feel I am
supporting the development of a saner and far more abundant world.
I have felt it an important
obligation, no matter my financial state, to practice a radical generosity
in terms of what I will support joyfully, helping to birth it into our
common experience. I want to support the development of services, talent,
and expertise that are not typically valued in our culture. Because of
this support, I have always gladly shared my abilities, encouragement,
energy, and money with the ideas, people, and causes that strive to move
us beyond our limitations and into our excellence. Though it varies from
year to year, I challenge myself to disperse up to 60 percent of my
income, after taxes, to benefit areas other than my own personal gain,
primarily humanitarian endeavors. I am aware this constitutes a radical
generosity, yet it seems my income expands so exponentially as a result of
my commitment that my personal wealth continues to grow rapidly.
is a lightning rod for what I call the lie, or the myth, of scarcity. It's
not merely that we believe things are scarce, we have a mindset or a frame
of reference that no matter what's happening, there is not enough.
We are continually scrambling to get more of what we really don't
need. We are reaching for this, wanting more of that.... If we can let go
of the constant trying to get more, it frees up unbelievable amounts of
energy to make a difference in our life with what is already right there
in front of us. Lynne Twist
A Hungry World
What are we so hungry for? All of
this striving for more, the feeling that there is not enough, that we must
hoard our money, our love, our power, and time. All the while compressing
ourselves into very tight corners, becoming enslaved by our financial
goals. The clamoring ego, the body that feels vulnerable, are all so
hungry to know what the Soul knows: There is enough. It is sufficient.
It's going to be okay.
We can feed the hunger with any
number of compelling addictions and distractions: possessions, food, sex,
talk, relationships, television, work. But our hunger is not physical. It
is the hunger to have purpose, the hunger to be filled with the wisdom of
the Soul, to reconnect with our spiritual base, with one another, and with
the earth that is our life. It is the hunger to possess peace and clarity
and to abrogate our constant fear that there is not enough.
To return to Buckminster Fuller, he
held that there was enough to go around. He believed that we had enough
resources, for instance, to feed the whole planet right now, today. It is
true. Our deficits are not about lack. They are about how we perceive and
how we act on our perceptions. So much is possible when we realize what is
available to us right now, when we see what we have. Stepping outside of
the idea that "nothing can be done," we begin to see that much
can happen incredibly differently, with great speed, and with
One morning, a woman called a local
San Diego talk radio show, with DJs Jeff and Jer. She spoke of an abusive
situation she was in, without the means to get out of it. A female police
officer called to offer help and a conversation developed about the need
for a shelter for women in such situations. Jeff and Jer suggested that
enough money might be raised to at least help "Becky" (not her
real name) get a couple of months' rent. They suggested that anyone who
wanted to give a few dollars could drop it off at a downtown location the
following morning and the station would see that it was given to Becky.
The following morning, in just an hour-and-a-half's time, $42,000 was
dropped off by people on their way to work!
When Jeff and Jer shared the
exciting news on the air that day it galvanized the audience. Almost
immediately Becky had a new apartment, counseling, and support, and
volunteers who helped her relocate, even moving her belongings. But the
on-air conversation continued about a facility that could help others in
similar situations. A city employee called to say that their office had
land set aside for a shelter for abused women, but no resources to develop
it. A contractor called in offering to oversee the construction, an
architect offered to design it, and many people donated plumbing,
electrical, and other labor for building it all volunteering their
services free of charge. Funds began to come together and in a matter of
days Becky's House, as it came to be called, was well under way.
For years the City of San Diego had
been trying to set up such a facility. Yet, in a very short time, generous
individuals pooled their powerful and nearly boundless group resources,
achieving what government agencies could not. Within seven months the
ribbon was cut at the opening ceremony and Becky's House was a reality.
There Is Enough
Switching through television
channels one Sunday morning, I observed a dynamic black preacher interact
with his congregation. It was a large group; thousands were in attendance.
He called out, "How many of you need jobs? All of you stand up!"
Hundreds of his parishioners stood.
"Now," he said, "how
many of you own businesses that need employees?"
An even larger group stood up.
"You see, it is all provided for us, if we only ask. I want all of
you who are standing to leave before the sermon; we are going to do
something about this right here and now. We have people that will take you
into our conference rooms and help you find each other. God doesn't mean
for these wonderful resources to go to waste. God makes everything ready
but it's up to us to see what's in front of our face!"
Many people got jobs that day, even
some who had been searching for months.
There is enough. Even in those
passages in our life that seem to be barren, everything we need is there
all the resources, all the gifts. It is easier than we have come to
believe. The power to demonstrate this is not franchised solely to the
wealthy, or government, or the large corporations. That power is housed
most fully, most limitlessly, within. And that power quite literally can
has immense power, because we've said so, and now let's give it the power
that the Universe, humanity, that the earth needs. Lynne Twist
The Architecture of All Abundance by
Lenedra J. Carroll. Copyright © 2001 by Lenedra J. Carroll. Excerpted by
arrangement with New World Library. $24. Available in local bookstores or
call 800-972-6657 ext.52 or click here.