Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health.
And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present;
the result being that he does not live in the present or the future;
he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.” (The Dalai Lama)
“Money won’t bring you happiness.”
We’ve heard that saying over and over again and I have to say that, while it is true in a way, it can also become an inappropriate and an overrated statement.
Western society has been programmed for centuries to associate money to all kinds of bad things. Well, just think of all the proverbs and sayings about money.
“Money is the root of all evil.”
“Easy come, easy go.”
“Money doesn’t go on trees.”
And the list keeps going. No matter what lessons these proverbs “teach” us, the general energy around the idea of money has been negative for a long time.
Growing up in Brazil, I was an active part of a spiritual community for some time. Surrounded by very humble and charitable people, I was taught that money was karma related. If I wasn’t born with money, that was a life lesson for me or a mission, and I had to do my best to accept that with gratitude. I could work hard to improve my finances, pray for help and guidance, but I shouldn’t make my search for wealth a priority in my life. If money didn’t come after all my efforts, it was either “God’s plan” or karma.
I was also taught and programmed to believe that all spiritual work should not involve money. Mediums, energy workers, they should never charge for services because they had been given that gift for free. I knew many amazing mediums who did healings completely for free and they were very charismatic and good-hearted people – no doubt about that! However, I also heard stories of the ones who charged for their service, and how they would always end up on “a bad path.”
So one can imagine what I felt, after growing up surrounded by these ideas about money and spirituality, when I became an energy healer. I struggled with the guilt of charging for a session for a while and I found myself trying to justify my earnings many times.
Again, the issue of money in my spiritual community started because money was, at some level, associated with something evil that corrupts us. Unfortunately, this is a narrative that has been planted subconsciously in Western society and in many different religions.
As an active student of spirituality, I’ve been in touch with a lot of members from various spiritual communities in the U.S. I’ve read many books on spirituality, took many classes, explored different spiritual ideas.
And I realized that I wasn’t alone in my false beliefs regarding money. I noticed that, while there are several different beliefs about money in our society, there were mainly two spiritual groups regarding their relationship with money:
Group number 1 – truly believes and preaches the law of attraction and manifestation (wealth, abundance in all forms). “What you think you shall become.”
Group number 2 – feels that we have to embrace reality as it is and not resist so much. Resisting brings pain. “Money isn’t everything.” (God’s plan, karma, etc.)
Although I may be generalizing by creating these two categories, I am just trying to illustrate the core of our problem. The duality I’ve experienced when I jumped back and forth between these two groups of thoughts made me question my own relationship with money. I didn’t know which one to follow and found myself stuck many times. Is it okay for me to want money so bad, or should I just be mindful of my desires concerning money and let it flow naturally if it is “meant to be”? Does money really bring happiness?
To be honest I think happiness is nothing but a concept, an idea. What brings happiness to you doesn’t necessarily bring happiness to me. And yes, I also believe that happiness is a state of mind, something that happens when we are fulfilling our lives’ purpose.
But let’s stop telling people that!
Let’s stop telling people that it’s normal to live a life of poverty and scarcity. And most importantly, let’s stop glamorizing the idea that money won’t make us happy because we should focus on “more important things in life.”
I am also aware that I’ve made that mistake many times too. How many times I’ve caught myself saying, “Look at that poor guy. He’s homeless and yet he has a smile on his face!”
I honestly want to punch myself for having thought that – but hey, lesson learned! I found out I also idealized the idea of a fulfilling and spiritual life without money. And I was wrong. While it’s admirable to see someone so happy and detached from material needs, it’s not okay to hold that expectation about ourselves and anyone else.
Yes, money won’t necessarily bring you happiness, but it makes it easier to navigate through life’s difficulties with your pockets full rather than empty. It is much easier for someone to find their life purpose, to take some time off to meditate, travel, study, quit the awful job that brings them no purpose, do anything they want without having to worry so much about paying their bills.
Money problems may cause severe depression and anxiety. Money pays for the outrageous rates of health care – when unfortunately in America this is not considered a human right. Money pays for the roof above our heads, the food we eat, the bills we pay.
So let’s stop telling people, whenever they are depressed and anxious because of money problems, that money won’t bring them happiness!
And let’s end the battle within us that tells us we are bigger, better, and more spiritual, and this and that, than money. These are all false beliefs. Money is just a factor in our lives and we have to make that as positive as we can. It’s very important to be mindful about our own beliefs regarding money.
Now going back to the two groups I listed, which spiritual community group was correct regarding money?
There is no right or wrong answer here, but I’d say there should be a group number 3. The group of “the middle way.”
I believe there should be a balance between spiritual growth and money. Yes, we have learned we have to be mindful and not resist life’s blows – and that may include the loss of a job and consequently a big money problem. But non-resistance doesn’t mean stagnation. It doesn’t mean we can’t manifest money and feel deserving of it. The middle way group should see money as a positive influence in our lives and use it in our favor to grow spiritually, not against us!
But also, we shouldn’t live a life focused solely on material quests (like the Dalai Lama says, sacrificing our lives to get money and not really living) and not work on our self-improvement. When we work on ourselves and we are fully aligned to divine purpose and consciousness, the money will flow and will stay – and that’s the end of the useless proverb, “Easy come, easy go.” I have personally changed this proverb to, “Easy come, easy stay.”
So next time we catch ourselves thinking about telling someone (or ourselves) that money won’t bring them happiness, let’s just pause and reflect.
Let’s move on with our spiritual growth, let’s be mindful, let’s be activists of love and fairness for all people. But let’s do all that without demonizing something that is meant to help us all.
And let’s fight so that everyone has access to money and basic needs, and let’s deconstruct the false belief that has been implanted in society that people shouldn’t have the right or need to want too much money. But again, let’s do all that with awareness and kindness, because, at the end of the day, happiness is indeed a product of all of our mindful actions.
Think of when you grew up, what did your parents and/or religious group say about money?
What are your thoughts regarding money now?
Photo Credit: Unsplash/Vitaly Taranov