How many times (at least in the movies) have we stared death in the face at gunpoint? Yet, whether we realize it not, we experience the same terrorizing and paralyzing effect whenever we are faced with challenging moments in life where we are forced to make choices that seem more like a Sophies Choice (you’re damn if you do, and damn if you don’t). This is particularly true when it comes to choosing between the pursuit of the material world (which leads to slavery) and the pursuit of the self by developing spirituality (which leads to freedom).
On the surface level, the road to money (the material world) doesn’t parallel the road to the self (spirituality), so how is one to reconcile the seemingly two opposite directions? The beauty of life is that there can be infinite possibilities, unlike either all or nothing at all thinking which is not only limiting but also self-defeating. However, it takes creative thinking and high awareness to solve this problem. To make the right choices that lead to total prosperity (from health to wealth, including riches of the heart), its vitally important to gain perspective through healthy insights into what’s considered to be one of the most highly emotionally charged issues, money. There are widespread misconceptions about money, which are reinforced by the media. The most noticeable is the myth that external riches automatically lead to a richer inner life that gives us a sense of purpose, meaning and fulfillment, and even self-worth. In a culture that worships vanity, and not a virtue, and is obsessed with external shallow values, it is easy to assume that He with the most toys lives, rather than He with the most joys lives.
Subconsciously we choose money (materialistic pursuit) over life (spiritual pursuit) with the belief that money is the cure-all and the answer to all of our problems. It’s no wonder that the pursuit of materialism becomes our first priority. So we sacrifice a lot (and can even lose a precious part of our soul in the process of achieving material success) only to discover that its a dead-end for anyone after riches of the heart. But the discovery that when we get there, there is no there there, makes us realize that we got it all backward. It’s supposed to be He with the most joys lives.
Another misconception, originating from the Bible, is that money is the root of all evil (as if there is anything virtuous about being poor and unable to help yourself or loved ones, let alone make a difference in society). Accordingly, some people develop an anti-money behavior (by remaining poor) and give money a bad rap. However, it’s not money but greed (the love of money which corrupts some people in their attempt to acquire it), which is the root of all evil. In fact, when money is accompanied by purpose, then it can become a powerful tool to make a meaningful difference in people’s lives. When what we do has also a sense of purpose attached to it, the tremendous creative effort that is unleashed makes the process of making it not only more meaningful but also helps transcends the pain that goes into achieving any note-worthy goal so that now its viewed as pain with a purpose, much like giving birth.
Neutral money should not be wasted nor worshipped. Simply enjoy it and spend it wisely, preferably with purpose. After all, you cant take it with you (to the after-life) and at best, it only gives you a false sense of security. Life can seem harsh. The reality is that once you may be at the top rolling in the cash, but next you may be at the bottom rolling in the trash.
There has to be a point in your life. Obviously, no one goes through life thinking the point of my life is to see how many ice creams I can consume before I die. That’s why it’s vitally important to take the time to really reflect on what’s really important in life. Ask yourself if what you are doing is really bringing you a sense of meaning and fulfillment or are you just going about everything the wrong way. Remember, life is not a dress rehearsal. This is it.
One good way to gain clarity on the big picture is to ask yourself every night before you close your eyes, Am I living to work or working to live? Another way to identify what you value the most in life is to ask yourself, What would I do if I had only six months to live? This will help you avoid the mistake made by many members of the should have, could have a club.
Since too much of anything could be a curse, balance is the key. Simply put, when we strive for a balance between the pursuit of the material world and the pursuit of the self (by nurturing that part of our spirit that enables us to experience real joy, meaning, and purpose), life then becomes a fulfilling experience worth living. That’s when we no longer function just as human doings but also as human beings who live consciously and fully. That’s when we discover the joy that comes from going from making a living to making a difference because money is now used as a useful tool to help others. By so doing, we actually give ourselves the greatest gift of all peace of mind and real joy that comes from knowing that our existence and life mean something, even if for only a brief moment we help somebody in need and our lives make a difference, however, humble the contribution. This sentiment is best captured in the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, To know that even one life has breathed easier because I have lived. This is to have succeeded.
So who said you can’t have it all? Of course, you can. The fact is that the natural state of our spirit is total prosperity, abundance with meaning and real joy and fulfillment. All it takes is striking a healthy balance between the pursuits of the material and the spiritual worlds. Remember, the seed of money is service and its there to serve you and not the other way around. When money is earned the old-fashioned way (with integrity) and is used as a useful tool to make a difference, life then becomes an adventure in living rather than a problem to be solved. That’s the best-kept secret formula for achieving total prosperity.