All of us are guilty of collapsing ideas about money with money itself,  Our ideas about money live in our heads.  Money exists outside of our head, in the world.  It is simpler to get clear about who we are, where we are, and what’s possible in our lives once we begin to identify and separate the ideas we have about money from money itself. Doing this lightens our stress load immensely.

Thoughts around money

My inherited ideas about money were stopped cold by a comment a new acquaintance made many years ago. In my head the word “money” had a long tunnel of concepts behind it.  Messages like “hard to make, easy to spend”, “you have to have money to make money”, “money doesn’t grow on trees”, “rich people have all the luck” (we weren’t rich), “money corrupts”, “money is a dirty”, “more money equals more happiness”, “money is the solution”, etc. were rife in my family home.  Success was measured by a financial yardstick.

These ideas had percolated deeply into my brain.  My response was to ignore money as best I could and certainly not pursue it.  That summer I chose to fly, bus, and hitchhike across the United States.  It was 1974.  I was a college student living at home for the summer.  My logic was as follows; once I have a job and a place to live I will have neither the expendable income nor the leisure time to travel for a few months and see America.

I rolled into Austin TX from New Orleans LA on a Greyhound bus.  In my pocket I carried the name of a friend of a friend who was willing to put me up for a few days.  Through him I met Bob. Bob was a unique individual, an entrepreneur.  He had created an innovative lifestyle, producing a product in Mexico, sellng it in the US.  It was a lucrative business. He had so much money that he kept brown paper bags full of cash under the seats of his old funky jeep.  The jeep didn’t even lock for goodness sake. Upon discovering his quirky practice I asked “Aren’t you afraid that someone will steal it?” Bob’s answer was “It’s only paper.  You can tell by looking at it.”  Nowhere at no time had I ever looked at money as “only paper”. HIs answer was a revelation that allowed me to see the layers upon layers of  meaning I had been attributing to “paper”.

What money is and is not

Money wasn’t dirty, the key to happiness, necessarily hard to come by, corrupting, a solution…it was simply money.  All that other stuff  about money was in my head, not in money. Money is simply a currency that can be made, lost, invested, stolen, compounded which we have less than, more than, or enough of to meet our needs and desires. That’s it. The rest of the stuff in our brains isn’t about money, it is about us and the thinking we’ve been exposed to all our lives about money.

I began to create new thoughts about money.  I began conceptualizing that I could live out of passion, follow my heart, apply myself diligently and responsibly to whatever I wanted and money would come. I didn’t have to work for money.  I could work for me.  I would apply myself to that which was important to me and work to further the world being a healthier, more compassionate, and happier place…and money would come. It was a risk yet seemed infinitely worth it as I looked around and saw how truly unhappy even the well-to-do appeared working for money.

It is forty years later.  My experiment has been successful.  Over the years  I have observed others who began listening to their beliefs about money; what it means to have it, to not have it, to spend it, to save it, to lose it, to inherit it, to give it away, to make it, to not make it, etc.  In every case the ability to separate their stories about money from money itself was liberating. It enabled them to be clearer, more powerful, and more effective in attracting, managing, and enjoying money.

Look for Part II next Monday.  Join the conversation and share your thoughts on money with us.


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