I've been listening to The Happiness Project - by Gretchen Rubin (www.happiness-project.com) on my way to work and something about the last chapter that struck me was on the concept of money - and whether money can buy you happiness. Can money buy you happiness? It depends on who you ask i think. For some it can, whereas for those who are living satisfactory and more - will say that money doesn't buy your health which if compromised can lead to unhappiness. This made me begin to think about our relationship with money which usually starts at a very young age. We watch our parents as they talk about money, we observe their spending habits, we observe the way they teach or not teach us about the value of money. I think about this because having a child, i need to be very conscious of what i say to him about money - do i want him growing up knowing that yes it is a necessity to survive - to make a means - but is it by far the most valuable thing in life - the most concrete example is someone who has a terminal illness or someone's health who is compromised and they can't work, they are limited physically because of the medical piece and as a result begin to experience symptoms of depression, restlessness, anger, frustration - now i ask you can that buy happiness - no it can't. But without money - we can't get the medical care we need - or we can't seek the treatment we need to or we can't afford to pay for insurance. This is just one example of the link between money and happiness.
So as children, we grow up either seeing our parents struggling or we see them living comfortably and accordingly we develop the attitudes/relationships/beliefs and feelings towards money. If we grow up watching our parents struggle - complain because they feel they never have enough or literally are struggling to pay ends means - subconsciously our relationship with money is an unhealthy one - we may become as adults more prone to reckless spending or more prone to prudent saving - but the way we view money is what drives our relationship with it - so for example - if we are prone to saving - there will always be that subconscious fear that we will never have enough if we don't keep aside to saving - and at times we lose out on utilizing our resources for things that are important to us - such as a good vacation or taking a good course or making a smart purchase. If we are prone to reckless spending - we may find reasons to justify our expenses - but also that too drives our behavior. We may justify the expense because we may say - that we never got it as a child, so now i want to live my life the way i can - and not worry about tomorrow.
Our relationship with money is in many ways a reflection of our relationship with ourselves -do we care for our selves enough -are our actions driven by fear - are our thoughts anxiety driven - are our decisions hasty? And on a spiritual level the spirit of abundance - do we believe that we are entitled to abundance? What is your definition of abundance - yes hardships will come and go and we will all experience some financial crisis in our lives at some point - but the point is to learn from that experience so as not to repeat it again - what sacrifices are we willing to make to get to where we want to be? and how do we shift our perception about sacrifices - that a sacrifice is not a punishment but a choice that we are making to live a certain way.
It wasn't till a couple of years ago where i finally began understanding the idea of abundance - and that I am entitled to abundance if i truly believe that it is mine - But to get to that step takes time - And many lessons -
We work to make money - but we also work to create an identity, to feel like we are doing something more than just creating an income. When I had my son , i made a choice to work close to home so that i wouldn't have a commute - i took a pay cut, i made sacrifices so that i would be able to have a 10 minute commute rather than a 45 minute commute - those were the worse three years of my life because the work i was doing was not fulfilling - it wasn't what i wanted to do. A wise person said to me once - love your duty - i wasn't loving my duty and i began to recognize that and i was ready for a shift and a sacrifice - a sacrifice that i would be away from my son which was a difficult choice to make but i would be happier working in a different environment - the universe heard me and i changed jobs soon thereafter. My point - that like many we often are stuck in situations that we feel we have no way out financially - that we need to be in that situation - because it pays the bills and because we need a job - yes all that is true - but when it begins to affect your soul and like i heard someone say the other "when you begin to feel like throwing up when you enter your workplace", then you know it is time for a change. Today, i work in a place that is very "me" on many levels....but there are some choices i have made - my commute is so much longer, i have limited time with my son - and sometimes the guilt of a mother rests with me - yet i know i made the right choice because i am happier - is it the money - no - it is the choices - the money is the means to survive.
I urge you to look at your relationship with money - I did a writing piece the other day on that - Money to me means and let myself flow ----Insights come out....The other thing I would ask you to do is look at what is important in your life right now - keep in mind it changes - is it saving - it is a vacation - is it a new house - make a list for yourself in order - see what is the most important - now what steps do you need to take to get there -
I will give you an example - I love to travel - and sometimes i feel like i don't have enough money to do so - because other expenses always come up - but doing that list helped me because it made me look at things in perspective - what is important to me -and steps i need to take to get there. travel wasn't at the top of my list and for me that was insightful. Lists are important and see the lists on paper gives clarity. That too is a form of journaling.