Personal Wealth

This morning I met my friend Julia and her friend Val for the first of a series of pilot workshops Julia’s running, which are “designed to explore ideas and to encourage conversations that matter.” Today’s workshop was on personal wealth, exploring ways to transform our thinking, leading us away from a scarcity mindset and toward an abundance mindset. As Julia says: “Too often we focus on what we don’t have now or yet, rather than tuning in to what we already do have, right in front of us and also inside us. We will dig a little deeper into this phenomenon and learn how to realign ourselves to the abundance in our lives“. This is some of my thoughts during and since the workshops.

Julia first asked us to define a series of words in our terms, which are below with my own interpretations:

  • Wealth – This for me is taken to be often associated with money and materialism, the more we have or the bigger we have the wealthier we are, however I also add a second version which I termed ‘social wealth’ that is the friends, family and loved ones we have that enrich our body and soul by loving, accepting and supporting us to memories that makes us laugh and/or cry, which money cannot buy. We look at those that have excessive wealth and do good work for charitable causes as philanthropists, but what of those that give themselves not which may not have an that type of wealth, not because it may make them look good to others, instead it makes them feel good and making a positive change or contribution to the society or world we live in?
  • Rich – As above it is often associated with money, having more than one car or a second home abroad for example. I think of the kids cartoon series Duck Tales, in which the lead character Scrooge McDuck during the opening titles dives into a pool of money to symbolise quite how rich he is. However, as with my thoughts on wealth, can we not be rich in ways not associated with money? As with wealth can we not be rich on happiness? We can spend money on a child’s education from school to university, buying them anything they ever wanted and more, but will it make them happy in the end? When perhaps spending quality time with their parents for a few days together rather than buying them a new designer handbag or day at the races as have not got the time.
  • Abundance – To me this is having far more of something than is necessary, in financial terms we might think of having a greater income than have outgoings. Someone may have an abundance of friends on Facebook, but how many of them do they know well, would any of them support them in an emergency, or do they even know outside of it? However, is having too much of anything a bad thing? Having an abundance of love may at first a good thing, but by spreading it among many those that truly deserve our love are losing out to those that may not give us a second thought, unless they can gain from it.
  • Affluence – Similarly to abundance but an overflowing of material wealth, which maybe associated with prosperity, opulence, and luxury. However, unlike the other terms I could not come up with an alternative of it.

Julia then discussed three truths she learnt from Lynne Twist’s book The Soul of Money, which are:

  1. There simply isn’t enough is a myth that we use to delude ourselves into believing that there is a “pie” of a certain size that can’t grow any larger and that if we don’t grab a bigger slice of it, someone else will.
  2. More is better causes us to always grab for that bigger piece of pie, even to the exclusion of others.
  3. This is just the way things are gives us a very weak excuse to act greedy.

The truth? All of these are complete myths – there is abundant resources for all and the only reason to grab more and more and more is greed; we use these myths to justify greed. So what can we do about it? When we realise this is the case, some do nothing as expect someone else to make that difference, but why should they? Or if they do it maybe to perpetuate these facilities further for financial gain. Having worked with grassroot organisations in Africa and Asia I have seen how something small can make a difference to a community and with support it can grow with potential to become a forest not just a lone tree…as per the phrase ‘mighty oaks from little acorns grow’ .

From this we looked at what we can give, this was my list:

  • Empathy, understanding and support
  • Non-judgemental
  • Friendly and approachable
  • Life experiences
  • Time

For me giving myself be it in physical or spirit form to another or cause not only makes me feel good inside but as I have said since early childhood there is so much darkness in the world, why add to it? If would want someone to be there for us, show by being that person, rather than expecting it to appear like some divine miracle. I do not do things for financial gain or fame but because I want to, I believe in others and want them to succeed. I have no place for hate, envy or jealousy, they only make your eyes deader and deader until no light shines from them and blind to all.

This lead on to how we see life right now, which for me is a real mixed bag:

  • Frustration
  • Ever changing but groundhog day
  • Thoughts and ideas but unable to develop them
  • Restricted but free
  • Content and happier than ever been
  • Feel loved, appreciated, respected and wanted by friends

I know that we cannot control every part of our life, but there are somethings in my life that upset and frustrate me that I cannot move forward with. Trying to open doors and keep them open once I’ve peaked inside seems like a constant battle. However, my friends make life special, without them I feel I would not be as far forward as I have come in terms of self acceptance, respect and love to doing what for them as shown me back what I give to them, it truly is beautiful.

For me the workshop was an interesting way to look at personal wealth particularly as I have never been financially driven and see money often being used as golden carrots to entice us to do things that we may not otherwise do and/or encourage us to follow behaviour that maybe against our beliefs. It has also helped see clearer how fortunate I am in a spiritual way, the inner contentment I have now to the friends I have, which matters to me so much and could never have dreamed of either perhaps a decade ago. As a child I only wished for three things as an adult: a place to call home, a dog and to be happy…I’m getting there, slowly, but one day at a time.

If you live in Edinburgh please check out Julia’s workshops, as worth attending as the discussion helps not on Julia to develop these as future workshops for others but does encourage us to think and discuss as well as learn new ideas and concepts.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Real life

As popular reality TV shows return for their autumn runs in the UK few stop to think of the contestants that in many ways are like actors in a play. Winners already decided to scripted arguments, edited video footage to manipulative judges comments, all make us invest emotionally in the contestants and vote in a certain way. Thus the contestants are presented in neat little packages, which are often far from how the truly are around friends and family.

However, it is not just confined to TV shows, for it is something nearly all of us are guilty of. Take a look at your Facebook profile, if have one, and see the image of yourselves that you promote to the outside world. We share our lives like the diary room on the show “Big Brother“, editing our photos to elicit a certain response, trying to look slimmer and younger than we are, to the portray of how life is and the person we want to be seen as by others.

Learning to be comfortable in who we are can be very difficult. Combined with the media and entertainment telling us we need to do x or y to become rich and successful or this is what true beauty looks like via a heavily edited photograph. Those that differ are seen as abnormal or freaks as their individuality is erased at a click of a mouse. Therefore, nowhere do we see examples of ordinary individuals as almost want to conform to these ideas.

Is it not time we stopped watching and listening? Gave ourselves a break for not being how the world paints what human beings are to be. Not everyone will have a partner and/or children, a fulfilling career does not mean one that brings lots of money and owning houses to cars are extras that should not be forced as must haves; what is wrong with renting a home or use public transport, owning a car may seem convenient but costs so much to run.

However, by all means continue watching television and posting to social media if you wish, but perhaps tuning out from or switching them off them now and again so can appreciate what we have without needing to share it, the little things that are special to each of us. Spending quality time with friends and family as life is precious and short, which is why the present is the only time that actually exists; based on foundations of the past and start of tomorrow.

© Fi S. J. Brown