How to stay wealthy

To most people, the word wealth conjures images of money rather than spirituality. Yet those with their eyes open have a broader perspective. If, as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler wrote in their book On Grief and Grieving, “Wealth and poverty are states of mind”, then we owe it to ourselves to seek an abundance that money can’t offer.

Most people’s experience of wealth is limited to the material: investments, property, possessions and cash. Yet like all that we experience, money challenges us to review how we approach life. As Ezra Bayda says in At Home In The Muddy Water, “What good is it to sit in meditation, even if we’re having great experiences, if we plunge into the anxiety of our financial situation as soon as formal practice ends?”

Spirituality is a way of living, not a part of living. If we restrict our enlightened philosophy to areas where we’re comfortable — a spiritual group, books and programs — our view is myopic and we’re being spiritually lazy. Taking a spiritual approach to the seemingly superficial, even if it requires mental work and patience, is an evolution welcoming all who are ready.

Money can be mystical, if only by being a catalyst for realising how attached we are to it. As such, money offers us the opportunity to practise detachment. Cultivating this detachment is a tremendous victory. After all, most associate money with sustaining the most basic of all desires: life. Yet, in our willingness to release our control over earthly life, we gain a real existence — one of peace.

Does this detachment result in loss? No. In fact, your financial situation may improve. Without attachment there is an opening to a life unrestricted by financial motives. Ironically, a life spent doing what you love instead of what you must can pay the most, and not just materially.

Your power to manifest

Spirituality aside, anyone who seeks and covets money has the desire necessary to achieve it. This desire is essential to manifesting because we focus on what we desire. This is an important part of the Law of Attraction. It has been said many times by various experts that “energy flows where attention goes”. It is this sustained attention, this desire, that causes manifestation.

Energy is the other part of this equation. Everything is made up of energy. For our wants to manifest, we must have an energetic frequency in alignment with that which we desire. This happens when we produce vibrations in harmony with our desires. What produces our vibrations? Thoughts and feelings. We think and feel our way into our reality. Though this sounds magical, it’s quite a science: quantum physics, to be precise. Popular spiritual films such as The Secret and What the Bleep Do We Know!? summarise this science in depth and in digestible viewer-friendly terms.

Money’s hidden meaning

Though anyone with desire and persistence can attain the money they want, it’s important to ask whether getting what we want will make us happy. Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: “There are two tragedies in life: one is to lose your heart’s desire, the other is to gain it.” In other words, happiness isn’t dependent on getting what we want.

Many people equate happiness with security, so they want money, which they also equate with security. Yet the security money buys is an illusion. The physical world, including everything we can buy to “secure” our future, only provides the appearance of security. Every moment is a gift; we are not guaranteed more than what we have already had. There is no enduring safety in the physical world. Genuine security is in our faith: faith in ourselves that we can handle whatever comes our way, and faith that an unidentifiable force will help us when we cannot.

Belief equals safety. Money is an arbitrary figure in this equation. We must believe all is well, whether we’re sick or well, single or coupled, poor or prosperous. This faith is the most meaningful and most important security and it cannot be measured in dollars.

Wealth, especially in our society, is connected with prestige. Yet along with this prestige comes insecurity. With every ounce of prestige comes a pound of worry about losing it. Deep thinkers will find that the respect they gain is not earned or based on anything of importance and so feels shallow and empty. Respect for yourself, which comes from within, is the only way to guarantee a solid and lasting feeling of importance. This feeling is based on self-love. Once you truly love yourself, prestige becomes meaningless.

Abundance is about more and an abstract “better”. However, often better is newer, bigger and more expensive. What is really better? Not that we should give up on attaining our desires; rather, we should realise there’s a difference between what they promise and what they really provide. There is nothing we can buy that will give us permanent feelings of satisfaction.

Think about it: has any possession you’ve longed for, once attained, provided lasting joy? Happiness comes when we want what we have, not when we get what we want. Fully experiencing this moment is where happiness starts.

Time well spent

Money can buy holidays but not our enjoyment of the moment. Each moment is as unique as a snowflake. As with a snowflake, we cannot grab a moment, but only watch as it passes. The instant we try to stop it we cause the moment to slip away faster. We can waste these periods fretting and sweating or we can ease into them with the carefree mind of a child.

How do we do this? One sure way is to find out what nurtures your soul and devote time to this. This may be restful or active, work or play. The act itself is less important than the heart you commit to it. This is not only efficient, it is intelligent. This type of time management makes every hour an adventure. Putting your whole body and soul into each moment allows you to feel alive and in a state of flow.

Flow is a concept defined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as a mental state that involves complete involvement in an activity that results in effortless action, time distortion and loss of self-consciousness. This is similar to what athletes describe as “being in the zone”.

Being in the flow is an enjoyable state and one we should want to integrate into our lives. To do this, pay close attention to your activities and mental state as you’re doing them. Note whether you lose yourself in them or just plain feel lost. Getting more “in flow” is as simple as releasing expectations concerning performance and outcome. This involves being realistic, forgiving and self-rewarding. We cannot control outcomes; by learning to love and accept life free of expectations, we truly make the most of our time. Time experienced this way isn’t calculable — it is infinite.

Inner riches

As with our experience of time, the most important abundance available isn’t measurable. What qualities are important to you? If you are unsure, then look to people you admire for clues. What characteristics do they possess that you admire? It’s likely these are traits you want, albeit perhaps unconsciously. Some of these may already be within you and others you may need to work on. Developing these is important to realising your full potential. This requires a focus on your internal rather than external assets.

The happiness that comes from being spiritually wealthy is far more valuable, diverse and subtle. It may come through resourcefulness, the satisfaction of meaningful work or the joy of learning something new and wonderful about you. Most likely, it will come from an internal state such as the carefree perspective developed through faith.

This inner growth requires patience. Patience helps relationships thrive. It helps us in areas like keeping our temper and listening without interruption. Patience is so integral to relationships that Christian literature has written, “Love is patient, love is kind.” In Islam it is believed that cultivation of patience can help one grow closer to God through attaining inner peace. Along with prayer, The Quran lists patience as one of the greatest tools available for coping with suffering and hardship.

Suffering and hardship are recognised as inevitable in Buddhism, which is one of the reasons why Buddhism acknowledges patience as important and one of the six paramitas, or perfections, that those who aspire to become enlightened must train in. In particular, it is written that one must “practise patience towards the variety of human failings”. As we have patience with others’ failings we must also be tolerant with our own.

The currency of love

How can a person seemingly have everything and yet still be miserable? One of the reasons may be they lack self-love. Self-love can work miracles in our lives. It is only when we have this inner wealth of love that we can create lasting and meaningful outer abundance. You can create this. You choose your attitudes and decisions and the consequences of these form your life. So if your attitude is one of self-love your attitude will be in your best interest and so will your decisions. Obviously, you will make mistakes; this is human. In self-love, however, we learn from our mistakes and choose new paths. Forgiving ourselves for these mistakes and recognising that we are changing and evolving is an essential part of self-love.

When we act lovingly towards ourselves we allow ourselves the best of everything at any given moment and allow ourselves to fully experience its pleasure. This is true luxury because it is independent of money. The best is not gauged by external factors; it is dependent on our assessment and experience of it. Don’t let media or society dictate what riches are. If you feel joyous when licking an icecream cone, then that icecream may as well be caviar. Truly, in that moment it is as satisfying. And this is what wealth is. In scarcity we feel deprived; in prosperity we are satisfied. This type of prosperity cannot be earned or bought. It can only be given to us, from us.

Finding your soul

The cultivation of a soulful life is one of the greatest forms of wealth we can have. Living soulfully means living authentically: in harmony with the highest good of all. When we are authentic we put aside the opinions of others and the outer wealth that will impress them. Instead, we look within and find what fulfills us. The search is simpler than it sounds. All we have to do is reflect on how we spend our “free” time or the hobbies we had or have. These provide clues to where we will find satisfaction.

Once we’ve found what inspires us we can ask ourselves if there is any part of this we can share with others. Sometimes the answer is no. In this case, it’s enough to be content with knowing we are fulfilled. Our joy is important, because it is only when we live a life of joy that we can show others joy is possible. And so in giving to ourselves we are simultaneously giving to others. After we have met our practical obligations (we all need to pay bills), joy is our greatest responsibility. Since joy is impossible without self-love, we must love ourselves as best we can. Without this love we are empty reservoirs.

Of all the aspects of life and self, only the soul is eternal. As such, it’s essential to live a life that nurtures its growth and peace. We can have outer abundance and we can enjoy outer abundance; however, if we don’t involve our souls in attaining and retaining it, it may as well be fool’s gold.

Feeling the full pleasure of all that life has to offer — material and spiritual — involves enrichment of the soul. How this is obtained will vary as our knowledge and understanding changes. We may nurture our spiritual self in ways large or small. “Tending the things around us and becoming sensitive to the importance of home, daily schedule, and maybe even the clothes we wear, are ways of caring for the soul,” writes Thomas Moore in Care of the Soul. Though Moore’s approach is subtle, it is strong. Your method may be drastically different but will work equally well. As long as you feel that, overall, your life and self are evolving in a permanent and meaningful manner, you are progressing.

The greatest wealth

Wealth is so much more than a fixed amount of dollars or possessions. The greatest wealth is not in financial but rather spiritual growth. This wealth doesn’t discriminate, is infinite and improves all areas of our lives. Yes, we can also have wealth in cash, but it is only when this cash loses its importance that we find a wealth that is always enough.

Galina Pembroke is an internationally published writer living in Nanaimo, British Columbia, the westernmost Canadian province.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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