Don’t Sweat the Material Stuff!
For me, one of the fascinations of life is how we continue to discover new awarenesses about ourselves when we sometimes think all has been said and done. This time, it’s about a strategy I have been unknowingly expanding in my own life. It started out quite a few years ago when I came up with a Moneylove Strategy that proved very popular and successful for people. It was the concept that one shouldn’t ever be concerned or stressed about any amount of money that was $100 or less. The basic premise was that a truly prosperity conscious person should not be concerned with such piddling amounts (even if the reality at the moment was that $100 was a significant amount).
I was thinking about this early strategy when I realized just yesterday that I have expanded it to include any amount of money. Not to say I don’t have those momentary gulping, gasping lapses when something falls through, or some surprise large expense shows up. But I bounce back to my normal calm equilibrium almost immediately.
The latest example of this was in my current living situation in Panama. I’ve been in a great high rise apartment building, with a master bedroom and bath. My landlady has one of the two other bedrooms and a shared bath. She suddenly announced a couple of weeks ago that she wanted the master bedroom back after three months. So I was fortunate to find a small apartment just around the corner, but that landlady insisted I take it as of today, meaning I would be paying two rents for this period. I suggested to the current landlady that she could move into the master bedroom almost immediately and just refund one third of my rent. As I suspected, she didn’t go for that, being a bit of a tightwad. I started to feel anger at her intransigence, and then found that feeling just slipping away. After all, that $200 isn’t going to affect my standard of living. So I just let it go and she and I had a pleasant chat about my upcoming move.
In another recent episode, someone recently offered me a rather large sum to collaborate on a project. I realized I would be giving up too much control of my life if I agreed, forced to do things I really didn’t want to do. I could use the money right now, but no amount of money is worth compromising oneself or doing something that just doesn’t feel right to do. To give in to these temptations, or to give into upset or anger about a money issue, is counter-productive, an indication of residual poverty consciousness.
And so I say to you, and to myself, DON’T SWEAT THE MATERIAL STUFF!
Gathering Your Experts While You May
We all have people in our center of influence who have knowledge we don’t have which could be called upon as important challenges and decisions come up in our careers. I was suddenly reminded while doing a one-to-one coaching session with someone who is right at the cusp of fame and fortune as a performer, of the potent power of gathering a few people together to just pour out unfiltered ideas. We used to do this regularly at the old Inside Edge leadership support group that Jack Canfield, Louise Hay, and I helped found in Beverly Hills in the mid-1980s. We would gather anywhere from six to 20 people in someone’s living room and focus our attention on the one person who was looking for suggestions on how to move forward.
Some of these were people in the entertainment world, some were famous and non-famous workshop leaders, authors, and speakers, some were starting traditional businesses. I remember one member who had invented a new cracker containing nuts and was looking for ways to get giant supermarkets to display his product when the big food manufacturers used so many coercive methods to keep competitors off the shelves. We had a few millionaire entrepreneurs usually in attendance, and artists, and just creative people with lots of ideas. The concept was to throw out whatever popped into our heads, and it was quite impressive how many times one of these spontaneous ideas proved instrumental in the guest’s success. It reminded me of the subtitle of my early book, FRIENDS, which was The Power And Potential of The Company You Keep. We all can use this kind of supportive interpersonal environment in our lives.
If your career is in that stuck place just before a big breakthrough, you might gather your own brainstorming team of people you know, and see what ideas emerge that you can put into action. I am considering exploring doing this as a follow-up to coaching sessions. I usually keep these consultations limited to two or three sessions, because I strongly feel that should be enough to create momentum in anyone’s life. But a follow-up brainstorming session to take it to the next level might be useful and productive. I’m going to ponder the logistics of this, where my client would gather some people in his or her circle, and I would moderate the brainstorming session. While the ideas should pour forth without restraint, it is useful to have some structure in which they can blossom.
And as is often the case in my individual coaching sessions, those coming up with advice, suggestions, and ideas for this other person will often get just as much value for themselves in the process.
It always amazes me what the human mind can come up with when given a fertile space to play in, and pointed in a specific direction.
Some Things We Could Learn From Silent Cal
Growing up and reading a lot of history, about the only thing I learned about the 30th U.S. President was that he was known for his brevity, and a lot of comedians of his time teased him about it. Calvin Coolidge was known far and wide as “Silent Cal,” and a new biography by Amity Shlaes sees this as a plus rather than a minus, as well as discovering the man had a lot of depth and a huge reservoir of integrity to go with his few words in public. Some of what he did say managed to make a point on subjects that today’s politicians seem to need much more complex language to describe. For instance, think about whether anyone on any side of the current tax discussions ever put it so simply and bluntly as Silent Cal:
Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery.
Or this quote that sums up what a lot of self help authors and motivational speakers are trying to convey, but rarely do:
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.
I bet Silent Cal would have loved Twitter. We do tend to fill up the space and amount of time we’re allowed. I find myself doing this on my blogs, writing until a page is full. But what if we all followed Silent Cal’s model, and had to condense and organize our thoughts and expression of those thoughts in as few words as possible. I suspect that communication would benefit, and probably more than a few relationships.
A List That Can Serve You Well
I’ve been going through every single paper and letter and note I’ve gathered over the past thirty years. The reason for this is my move to Panama in a little over two weeks. I’m throwing a lot out, storing a few things with a couple of good friends, and rediscovering a lot. I just reconnected with an old friend from the 1970s thanks to a letter I found from 2005 that mentioned her new last name.
This post is inspired by a list I just uncovered minutes ago, stuck between two letters. As I recollect, it was from a series of prosperity/sales seminars I did for Century 21 employees in five Michigan cities in 1984. Mark Victor Hansen was scheduled to do them, but he suffered a back injury and asked me to fill in for him. I had about two days to prepare to go from Southern California to Winter in Michigan (a blizzard struck while I was there, cancelling plans for my first cross country skiing experience and my seminar in Detroit.), and this is one of the handouts I put together, called simply, The Best. I invite you to look it over and if you see the value in doing so, answer the questions for your own self-awareness.
1. The best quality I have that will lead me to success and prosperity.
2. The best person in my life from whom I can learn more about success.
3. The best pleasure I’ve had so far in this new year.
4. The best goal I have for the rest of the year.
5. The best time I’ve had in the past year creating money for myself.
6. The one thing I feel comfortable saying I am the best at.
7. The best reason I have for being a part of something I’m now a part of, or belong to.
8. The best compliment someone I respect and admire can pay me.
9. The best decision I’ve made in this new year.
10. The best reason I have for deserving a lot more money in my life.
And here’s the best reason I can give you for answering all the questions on this list: There is no doubt that if you carefully look at your answers, you will discover a major truth about yourself that can shorten and narrow your search for success and fulfillment in the rest of 2013. This is not because I was so brilliant in devising this list, but because you are so brilliant in finding your own solutions and prosperity paths when you focus your energy and attention on some simple questions like these. As always, enjoy the process.
Don’t Show Me Your Rolls Royce, Show Me A Smile
I strongly believe that we are much more easily able to ascertain whether someone is happy than whether they are solvent or even rich. There are many seminar leaders and prosperity teachers out there who brag about how much money they have, how big their homes and cars are, how many trips they take to luxury resorts, etc. And having been in that world for thirty-some years, I know some of them are lying through their teeth.
Now there is no doubt that someone can teach us a lot about how to have a better and more successful life without being wealthy. But not if they feel compelled to lie about it–remember that truth about most political scandals: it isn’t the original misdeed that does someone in, but rather the cover-up. I have no qualms about revealing that I have spent much of the past four years on a subsistence income, thanks be to FDR and Social Security. Of course, this has largely been by choice, as I have decided I want to spend my time in creative activities rather than marketing the results of those activities. I know how to create financial success, I just haven’t wanted to focus on doing so up to now. Because there is a built-in support system awaiting my arrival in my new home in Panama in less than seven weeks, I will no doubt start producing some major income without dramatically changing my leisurely lifestyle. But one thing that won’t change is the fact that I am basically a happy, at peace, creatively productive human being.
This is what I look for in any teacher or mentor I choose to hang out with and learn from. I only realized this quite recently as I looked back on the people who have been most significant in teaching me some of the most valuable lessons I have learned in life. They all had great senses of humor, none of them did what they did for money, they were all optimists, and every one of them left a powerful thumbprint on the world. I plan at exploring this further in my January Moneylove Club audio, which will be devoted to the mentors I have known and loved. Certainly included in this group will be four I have talked and written about at length–Ken Keyes Jr., Ray Bradbury, Leo Buscaglia and Norman Cousins. There have also been women well represented in the teachers I’ve had. Ilana Rubenfeld, Rita Mae Brown, Emily Coleman. All of these have also been friends of mine, and I have shared laughs with all of them. None of them bragged about money, but all were prosperous in all aspects of life, and lived the exact life they wanted to live. Oh, there was the time Rita Mae Brown, the famed novelist, told me that she went out and bought a Rolls Royce after reading Moneylove and selling a script for a television movie, but that was a personal aside and not something she felt she had to tell an audience to impress them.
Only a smile will convince me you are living a life I might want to emulate in some way, not a large photo of you in front of a luxury car in front of your mansion. For me, the dessert is happiness, contentment, creative satisfaction and inner peace. Money is just the whipped cream on top of it all.
Arthur Conan Doyle as the Ultimate Life Coach
I already give the man credit for inspiring my Law of Subtraction concept, that I discuss in the Moneylove Manifesto (which you can download free by clicking on the cover in the righthand margin). But as I now delve into some of his non-Sherlock Holmes novels (I never knew there were so many of them!), I see what a brilliant observer he was of the human mind and spirit.
Many of his books are available free of charge for Kindle at Amazon.com, and I am now reading The Letters of Munro Stark, published in 1895. I was particularly struck by his understanding of prosperity consciousness and what really matters when one is measuring success. He has his letter-writing protagonist, Munro Stark, talk at one point about a friend who inherited a large fortune, went on a spending spree, then experienced the big letdown.
“How absurd are the ambitions of life when I think that I, who am fairly happy and as keen as a razor edge, should be struggling for that which I can see has brought neither profit nor happiness to him!
And yet, if I can read my own nature, it is not the accumulation of money which is my real aim, but only that I may acquire so much as will relieve my mind of sordid cares and enable me to develop any gifts which I may have, undisturbed.
My tastes are so simple that I cannot imagine any advantage which wealth can give–save indeed the exquisite pleasure of helping a good man or a good cause.”
To Own One’s Time is the Ultimate Prosperity Experience
This is a theme I’ve expounded on since I produced a segment called Take Your Time! on my very first cassette tape album in the early 1980s. It’s come to the fore after a remarkable and profound conversation with Martin Boroson in England. He’s the author of The One Moment Meditation, and has done a lot of really creative and impactful thinking on the subject.
We just got together for a prosperity time dialogue via Skype audio for an upcoming edition of my Moneylove Club audio subscription series. As two likeminded creative and prosperity conscious people will often do, we bounced back and forth stimulating new ideas and lots of synergistic energy between us. So much so, we are talking about doing some programs together, perhaps in England.
I shared with Martin my ideas about Poverty Time Consciousness, the belief that there is never enough time to do what you want or have to do. And Prosperity Time Consciousness, the belief that “I decide how I want to spend my time and what needs to get done gets done when I say it gets done–and I can pause and smell the roses whenever I chose to do so.” Martin said he agrees with the concept, but has never liked that “smell the roses” metaphor, as there are so many other enriching activities he would choose to spend those extra moments doing, like his One Moment Meditation. And actually, I shared, I am not a very big rose-smelling enthusiast myself. Once in a great while, perhaps, but I would much rather smell a beautiful woman’s subtle perfume, or a piece of dark chocolate, or a BLT.
I also told Martin Boroson that I have decided to post shorter essays on this blog, moving toward my longtime aspiration to eventually write a book that has some profound secrets of success all contained on just one page. And so it is.
My Facebook Posts Live On
I realize that for most people, the short comments and insights and discoveries we share on Facebook have a very short shelf life. But I use at least some of my posts in a different way, as a sort of journal of my passing thoughts and conceptualizations about prosperity and living a well-lived life that I may develop into longer pieces at some future date–whether for my audio club, blogs, workshops, or even future books. It’s a way to remind me that my brain, my subconscious mind, is my most obedient servant, even when I ask it for a simple one-liner to share with my FB friends. This blog post is going to allow me to slightly expand on three recent such one-liners.
The beliefs inside your head are not written in stone, but rather in neurons–which are definitely mutable.
One of the great achievements for humankind in the past century is the realization that we are not imprisoned by our preconditioned or preconceived notions about the ways things are or the way things have to be. We have the capacity to change our path at any given point. This is precisely because whatever is imprinted in our brains can be wiped clean, replaced, expanded and improved. I was pleased and even surprised at how much positive response this sentence received from all over the world.
If most of your desires involve money, chances are good most of your worries will be about the same thing.
If most of your desires involve money, chances are good most of your worries will be about the same thing.
I am often asked, as you can imagine as a prosperity teacher and author, about people’s money issues. I have found that time and again, when someone has serious concerns about money, it is in direct correlation to how important and vital they have made money in their life. Money being confused with prosperity or even success is similar to sex being confused with love. Just as beliefs about the positive impact lots of money will have on one’s life are often totally wrong, so too are the fears about what the lessening or lack of money will mean in terms of results.
I recently coached someone who had a net worth of about three quarters of a million dollars, but thought she was in financial struggle because she thought she would have a lot more at this point in her life. She actually was worried that, though in perfect health now, she would become debilitated and have to enter a private care facility that could cost up to $100,000 a year and didn’t think she could afford that, as her parents lived into their nineties and she expected to be around at least that long. So many firmly held beliefs in that one, I could hardly sort them all out. It took a long time to actually convince her that she could afford to take a nice vacation trip and let go of some of her stress.
What you do in the world may not be nearly as significant as what other people get from what you do in the world.
Even I have to ponder this one for a while, as it just popped into my head from some unknown but much appreciated source. We sometimes get so caught up in what we are doing and how we are doing it, that we forget it has an impact on others. As I plan my first Moneylove workshop in twenty years in San Francisco, and will be doing others in some major cities around the world in 2013, some former workshop participants are coming forward to tell me how their lives were changed for the better in sessions they attended 20 to 30 years ago. This is very, very gratifying to hear, but it also serves to remind me that the way we each leave a thumbprint on the world is not by the monuments we build to ourselves, but rather to the ideas, solutions, and passions we inspire in others.
How Rich You Feel Is How Rich You Are
So I was thinking this evening about the word “prosperity” and all its nuances and ramifications. I realize that as I’ve gotten older, my personal definition has evolved. If you asked me now if I had ample prosperity in my life, I would give you a big Yes! But if you were a stickler and only went by the dictionary definition of prosperity as “the condition of being successful or thriving, especially economic well being,” you might disagree. I much prefer the Wikipedia definition: ”Prosperity often encompasses wealth but also includes other factors.” I’m big on other factors. Although I do like as well the word “thriving,” which is defined as steady growth or flourishing…and “flourishing” means, according to Merriam-Webster, “to grow luxuriantly.” A sort of cascading assortment of word definitions, but appropriate I think as prosperity has so many layers.
For me, my Yes! would be predicated on the feeling that I now am luxuriating with a sense of creative satisfaction, adventure, good health, good friends, and new areas to explore—such as my career in stand-up comedy, and possibly moving to Panama next year. But frankly, for various reasons, my actual material wealth is probably at it lowest point of my life. That will likely dramatically change in the next year or two, and I am comfortable, well fed, and wake up almost every morning with one of my favorite descriptive terms, “robust expectations.”
What led to all this ruminating on the subject was a question I asked myself. “What were three moments in your past life when you felt the most prosperous, happy, free, and in charge of it all?” My answers surprised me, at least the ones that first popped into my head, which are usually the most important ones. So I suggest you ask yourself this question and see what your answers tell you about your own definition of prosperity, of success, of thriving and flourishing.
Maybe the one answer that surprised me the most was a moment that occurred while I was an inmate at Folsom State Prison. I had just been accepted to work for The Blind Project, a little known (I was at Folsom 18 months before I even heard about it) department located down a back hallway in the prison hospital. Only 30 inmates were employed at what was considered the most desirable job in a prison anywhere in the world. The reason was that it was challenging, it was not at all like most prison environments, we were all treated like human beings, and we got to help people on the outside by translating college courses into Braille, recording books on tape, and close captioning college videos for the hearing impaired–rather than contributing to the prison industrial complex itself. We had private showers at work, as well as private bathrooms–both unheard of in prison. We also had a lounge that featured a toaster, toaster oven, microwave, and refrigerator–also extremely rare for inmates to have access to. I mostly recorded books, sometimes to order for a blind student with a special request. Yes, I would call that a feeling of prosperity indeed. Oh, and I also got a relatively high pay number for an inmate, $48 a month (most inmates earned $18 a month for forty hours a week).
None of my answers involved situations that improved my financial status much. Another moment was doing a twenty minute workshop version of my one man show at The Marsh in San Francisco. Still a third was the most recent, getting much louder laughs than I expected doing a seven minute stand-up set at The Purple Onion in San Francisco–from a mostly twenty-something crowd. It was a free performance, a show to celebrate my graduation from the San Francisco Comedy College, and the pleasures it provided were multi-layered. There was the fact that I didn’t have one ”uh” or “um” or “you know” in my performance, and I even got laughs from pauses that were not punchlines–just playing off the rhythm of the audience. I didn’t expect those, and am not sure if I made them happen in some way, or they were merely happy accidents. And there was the satisfaction that I had finally gotten to do something I had aspired to since I was a newsman at NBC Radio in the early 1970s. That I did it and did it well, and received acknowledgement for doing it well, was a magnificent experience I couldn’t have bought for a million dollars.
I’ve said that money can’t usually buy happiness (though I have bought a couple of cats in my life that dispeled that old adage) but happiness can buy money. What I mean by that is that when you are happy, people are attracted to you, and more likely to enjoy giving you money for your ideas, products, services, and skills.
Prosperity is a totality of experience and money is just one part of it. Love and friendship, being free to express yourself creatively, being appreciated for what you say or do in the world, vigorous energy and health–all of these count just as much toward a sense of well-being, and often more so. And there’s not one of them I would trade today for a hundred million dollars, or a beachfront house with a car elevator.
Your Mind As Your Most Obedient Servant
This is an idea I talked about in Moneylove and in many talks and seminars since then, the concept that your subconscious is the repository of any answers, solutions, and creative bursts you want or need, but you have to learn to ask. The idea for this post came after I wrote the following and put it on Facebook earlier today:
I am about to start writing twenty cartoon gags, which involves setting the scene and providing the caption, which the artist then draws up. What constantly amazes me is how my brain delivers my request for gags-on-demand. I think we all underestimate the power of this creative source, and none of us ask it to produce nearly enough.