The Role of Money in Our Life THE ARCHITECTURE OF PROSPERITY by Lenedra J. Carroll Often 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 YYoung 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 hhealth care pioneer, Dr. Bernard Jensen. Two important things happened on that trip. I met Dr. Ellen Jensen, his daughter-in-law and protégée, who figured prominently in the restoration of my health, and I fell in love with San Diego. I nnever 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. II 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 mmisperceptions 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 SystemThere 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 mix was.· I have to work hard for money and if I don’t put forth lots of effort I will be poor. · People rrespect me more if I have money. I respect people more if they have money. · I earned it the hard way, everyone else should too. · It’s not spiritual to have money; it’s better to give than receive. · It is wrong or weak to receive assistance from others. · It’s all about who you know. · I can’t trust people who ask for money. · I should help people who are in need. · People I give money to probably misuse it. · Everybody should just get a job! · When I have enough I will help others. · Spiritual and humanitarian services should be free or at least darn cheap. · No one should make that much money. · People should be able to charge as much as they can. · If I don’t have enough money something bad will happen. · People without money are losers, not interesting, charity cases, unhappy, don’t have anything to offer. · People without money are better off, happier, have simpler lives, don’t have as many worries. · I need a lot of money to be secure. · There is never enough money. · There is never too much money. · There is not enough money to go around. · Once I get money it’s hard to keep it. · I need tto save enough to last me forever. · Everything depends on money. · I can’t accomplish my dreams without money. · It takes money to make money. · Money is power. · Money can’t make you happy. · I 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 EconomyOn 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 mme? 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 wwere 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, lluxury, 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 ssomeone 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 oour 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 YourselfOne 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 tto 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 looked back.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 oor 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 aand 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.Your prosperity consciousness is not dependent on money; your flow of money is dependent on your prosperity cconsciousness. As you can conceive of more, more will come into your life. — Louise Hay How It Really WorksTen years ago a friend and I very much wanted to take a class on spiritual development. The cost for the hhalf 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 mmusic 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 ffiling, 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 ...
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