Why does My Root Chakra Want $250,000?

Via Bethany Eanes
on May 17, 2011
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from FinancialTimes.com

Does money equal happiness? I’m sure you’ve asked this question, but do you have an answer? The answer that feels right is, “No, money does not equal happiness.” But if this is a universal truth, then why do so many of us sacrifice so much in the name of making a dollar?

Well, it’s not a universal truth, that’s why. At least not in that simplest form. The answer is always more complicated; money does not equal happiness, but a feeling of security does. We need enough money to pay our bills and enjoy life. We need enough money to take a vacation and send the kids to college. We need enough money to go to bed at night without worry about providing for tomorrow. The problem comes in defining how much is enough.

According to a study at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, enough is about $75,000 a year.  Yep, apparently, once a person makes $75,000 a year in the US, not a single penny more will generate an ounce more happiness.

When I heard about this study, it really got me thinking. If that’s all we really need (and no, it’s no small sum, but it’s not a huge one either), why do so many of us seek more? Why is “wealthy” defined as earning $250,000 or more in our country? Once we reach $75,000 in salary, why don’t we stop and say, “Okay, I have enough now?”

To understand the human desire for “more,” it is important to understand how we function both anatomically and psychologically. Anatomically, the higher parts of our consciousness have the power to overcome the base reactions of our bodies. This occurs in the brain, in a portion of the mind called the cortex. The cortex is the highest part of the brain. When the lowest part of the brain – the brain stem – has a natural urge to carry out a bodily function, such as elimination, the cortex can step in and say, “Nope! Hold on, you should make it to the bathroom first.”

The cortex is extremely powerful, and many people think the cortex can go much further than controlling the elimination response. Researchers are constantly studying the effect of deep concentration on lowering blood pressure, reducing the stress response, fighting disease and otherwise impacting the body. But no matter how powerful the cortex is, eventually, we still have to go to the bathroom. If we ignore this urge totally, we’ll either be entirely unable to concentrate or – perhaps, no definitely, worse – just pee right there in our pants.

So that’s the anatomical relationship between base desires and higher reasoning. The cortex must accommodate the needs of the body, but it must force the body to operate on its schedule. The cortex is like a parent to the brain stem’s child. Yes, it is possible for the parent to act as a tyrant, forcing the child to behave. But none of us want to be that type of parent. We want peaceful families. We want children who feel loved but are still disciplined. We want to tell the body to “hold it” at times, but we know we must eventually make it to the bathroom. This “perfect family” model also carries over to the chakras.

On a psychological and emotional level, the chakras represent the higher and lower urges we all have. The root chakra (mooladhara or first chakra) is the chakra of money, support and security. It is the ultimate “child,” needing to be attended to and cared for, constantly yelling out demands and asking they be immediately met. The third eye center (ajna or sixth chakra) and the crown (sahasrara or seventh chakra) have the ability to reason. They are the source of divine knowledge and psychic intuition. They are the all-knowing “parents” of the chakra family.

Just like you use the cortex to control the urge to pee, you must use the knowledge held in these upper realms to control the urge to constantly seek more. Whenever mooladhara starts calling out for more money, more power, a bigger house or a bigger job, it is the job of ajna and sahasrara to say, “Enough is enough, now, no need to whine.” Disciplining the lower chakras is essential to maintaining focus, control and simplicity in life. But, just like a child who has been repressed, ignored or yelled at too much, mooladhara will rebel if it is not cared for appropriately. You must ask if everything is okay, if there is enough security, enough stability, enough love. Ask your base instincts, “How much do I really need to be happy? How much is enough?”

In our modern world, according to Princeton, mooladhara needs $75,000 a year, but this may be different in each person. Whether your magic number is higher or lower, you should know what it is. You should have a number in your head of when enough is simply enough. Like a child at a dessert buffet, the base urge within us will continually seek more, not aware of the consequences of that decision. Only by consciously checking in with mooladhara, by both caring and setting distinct boundaries, can the family within you be peaceful, happy, and content.


About Bethany Eanes

Bethany is a yoga teacher and wellness writer in the Pasadena area of Los Angeles. She is proud to serve as Elephant Los Angeles's Community Ambassador, where she is actively building a local community of EleJ lovers. She studies with Julie Rader at Mukti Yoga School, and, when she's not reading about yoga, talking about yoga or writing about yoga, she enjoys cooking, hiking and adopting pets ... too many pets. More at BeYogaLA.com.


7 Responses to “Why does My Root Chakra Want $250,000?”

  1. Hi, Bethany. Well, that 's one of the more unusual blogs I've read in awhile. And trust me, I read a lot of blogs! Enjoyed this very much. Thanks.

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  2. Bethany says:

    Haha – unusual is good I suppose. I have been reading a lot about brain structure and it reminds me of the functioning of the chakras. Specifically, how to override the lower chakras without upsetting them. So, this was my thoughts on the issue 🙂

    Best – Bethany

  3. From Facebook:

    Jen Smith Money is complicated. With it, we have tangible happiness. Without it (especially if we need it at that moment, ) we're miserable and suffer. So no. I don't think anyone really has an answer for that…
    8 hours ago · Like

    Erin Shriver ‎"money does not equal happiness, but a feeling of security does."….. I disagree with this conclusion and in my experience money doesn't equate to happiness either. There are millions of financially secure people who still remain unhappy,…
    See More
    8 hours ago · Like

    Donna Burden Well, kinda reminds me of what Dorothy Parker said, "I don't know much about being a millionaire, but I'll bet I'd be darling at it." LOL
    8 hours ago · Like

    Brenda Be what is relevant is that a feeling of a fair degree of financial security vs. practically none, is radically freeing and allows for a level of peace that gives one more room to deal with issues of happiness rather than survival. i have had both conditions, i can assure you, security is much happier.
    7 hours ago · Like

    Brenda Be and i would ask those who claim that no amount of economic insecurity should ever keep one from complete and utter happiness, if they have ever lived on the edge financially with no safety net, backup plan, or helpers or bailout people around, and with responsibilities for others especially children.
    7 hours ago · Like

    Brett Frischer If the game we call money were forgotten..there would be no question. How do we fulfill the basic needs of every human? (food, water, shelter and love) That should be the question. The monetary free market system (money) equals individuals taking advantage over one another for their own narrow self interest. ♥ {~*~} ♥
    7 hours ago · Like

    Erin Shriver ‎@Brenda Then are you are saying that you cannot be happy without the perceived security that money buys?
    7 hours ago · Like

    Martin Murphy Money is a mean value, which often gets mistaken for an ends value. As in, money is a means to an end (that end value differes in people and can represent sex, salary, status or security).. It is really an extension of egoic thinking, and t…
    See More

  4. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  5. tanya lee markul says:

    Hi Bethany – thanks for this article! I feel the question 'what is enough' is interesting on a lot of levels, especially in the Western world. I don't believe we need a lot to survive (we are much more resilient than the Western world will have us believe), but then there is this built-in belief system in our society where individuals believe they are things that they have. It's a tough belief system to change, but it is possible and there are those showing the way.

    On another note, I do think that 75K is A LOT of money given the average American salary is 42K (I read this somewhere, but it seems pretty accurate). I think 75K sets the bar really high and leaves expectations that can never be met for those who aren't in positions that pay more and more. Do you know what I mean?

  6. Bethany says:

    Hi Tanya – I agree 75K is higher than most people will earn. The Princeton study shows that happiness increases up to this point and fails to increase after it, dollar for dollar. That is why I used this number. Essentially, all things being equal, people do perceive themselves as happier if they earn 75K rather than 42K; perhaps they feel more stable, better provided for, or able to have some luxury in their lives. On the other hand, people earning 100K do not perceive themselves as happier than those earning 75K. At that point, it seems more is just more, not necessarily better. Hope that clarifies!

    – Bethany

  7. tanya lee markul says:

    Thanks Bethany! It sure does. 🙂 🙂