Waylon sits down with Buddhist, family man and financial advisor Mark Butler, author of Zen Money Blues. Join him as we learn about how to relate to money mindfully.
Mark earned his Bachelor’s in Philosophy from CU Boulder, and Master’s in Buddhist Psychology from Naropa, back in the 80’s. The next 6 years found him in the not-for-profit world, mostly as a couples and family therapist.
Mark’s work of the last 20 years has been as financial advisor, the last 18 of which he has run his own company. This was not a total sea change, since he grew up north of Manhattan and in high school was that kid who followed stocks and loved math class. Besides, he was surrounded by a family of entrepreneurs.
Now for the funny part: In many ways Mark has become the “accidental psychologist.” In the course of his work he never could have guessed that his training as a therapist would apply. But it does! Not that he does therapy for his clients—he doesn’t. However, money is emotional. Terribly emotional. And it amazes Mark how emotions can color that most basic decision-making process in regards to saving, spending, planning, and investing. Moreover, our styles in relating to our personal money have a way of creating discord in our primary relationships. So, he works with folks around this most thorny issue: Personal Money.
Mark’s books reflect contemplations that have been alive in him all these years:
Zen Money Blues employs a colorful typology as a refreshing lens through which we can see ourselves anew, and create complete sanity in our personal money world. Basic goodness! Time to be freed up of the dreary money obsessions that keep us from shining our light and healing the planet.
Lion Hearted Love (out this spring) is a collection of essays with lively stories that illuminate a new way of working with money-in-relationship. Mark delves pretty deeply into the non-money areas of give-and-take as a basis for creating a solid practice of generosity awareness in relationship. This is big.
Currently Mark is hard at work on the third book of this series—a guide to how we might educate the younger generation on the subtle and practical arts of personal finance. Yet another juicy topic in the realm of money and humans!
Mark is devoted to the idea that, not only can we put a smile on this whole personal money thing, but we can also put money in its proper place—so that it takes up no more than 12.5% of our waking mind-stream. We can free ourselves up to do what we’re meant to do, to give our gifts in this life. As the Zen Money Blues chorus proclaims: Get Your Money Rock-Steady, Then Do the World Some Good!
Three Takeaways from Mark Butler:
1) There are two kinds of money.
There’s the money we make and there’s the money we manage once it’s come home—and how we behave/feel/perform with one kind has very little to do with how we are in the other. We could be top earners, make great coin out in the world, but then, as soon as that money hits our checking account, we might be incredibly mediocre at handling it! The news is rife with cringe-worthy examples of this.
This bifurcation helps us to see more clearly the game afoot—to really look at ourselves in the realm of personal finance without assumptions.
2) We seem to be hard-wired in our personal money style.
Some of us might be great planners but weak implementers (we know what needs to be done, but just never do it), or we might be energetic implementers (paying our bills on time, getting great deals), but we fail to have a plan, so all our good work is without an overarching view. These strengths and weaknesses seem to be hard- wired, which is to say, we boot up in a particular way, and nothing will change that. Zen Money Blues includes a provocative (yet fun) Typology related to this.
3) We don’t have to change.
Now that we know our strengths and weaknesses—even our blind spots—we can stop berating ourselves! Instead, we can reach out to folks in our world to create a circle of helpers, a Money Mandala. We can pinpoint where we need help, and engage others, be they friends, family members, or professionals. For many of us, personal money is best a social experience.
Once our personal money takes its proper place (12.5% of our waking mind- stream), we can live our lives, shine our light, and maybe even heal the planet.
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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum