What Was Wrong With My Mindset About Money & What Do These Photos Have To Do With That?
These photos were taken during a beautiful sunset and sunrise in Key West…. but before I tell you how they relate, let’s talk about money. It’s time for me to talk about money.
I have spent a long time trying to “manifest” money as evidence of recognition for my art. Having studied just about every angle, including the tie between wealth and the Law of Attraction and how it can be applied to a creative life, I struggled with how to present myself and make money that way. Ultimately, became fed up with trying to manifest money in ways that were not in sync with who I am. I knew that my thinking was flawed but didn’t know how to correct it.
So, over time and with much persistence, I have changed my thinking and it has begun to bring me not just relief, but wealth as I define it. Here’s how I did it:
Instead of looking for success through money, I have found success in asking myself, “What mindset should I have about money?”
I work full-time and do my art on the side, so I don’t truly understand the plight of the starving artist, but I most definitely understand the artist’s struggle with the concept of wealth. (This struggle is in fact, not limited to artists). The problem for me was actually how I was using money. I used it to create a false definition of wealth and this definition was based on attachment.
I had equated wealth with reputation and recognition, created an entity from it, became attached to it, and – here’s the kicker – I was erroneously using the concept of money to get to that ideal self.
My attachment to my “ideal self” and my belief that money could bring me that ideal self caused me pain. I was believing my thoughts about all of those thoughts but those thoughts were cemented in attachment. (Wanting to be known, wanting to identify as an “artist”, wanting to be known for my art, wanting to be an expert, wanting to be liked, etc., etc.) Don’t get me wrong. I have absolutely no problem with the idea of material wealth. Of course, I welcome it – and I still want it, BUT… I’m no longer attached to it. Being attached only pushed it away.
Why Being Attached to Money Shuns True Wealth
Put money aside for a minute and think about attachment. You may have heard that being free of attachments is the ticket to freedom. That always sounded a bit daunting to me. Must we never feel attachments to things, places – and what about loved ones? That seems cold and “saint or buddah-like”.
What is attachment anyway? And how does this relate to a better money mindset?
To me, feeling attached makes me see the thing I am attached to as separate from myself. Why separate? Because to be attached means there’s me, over here, feeling an attachment or longing for that idea, person or thing over there. Yet this thinking is really about separation. And separation is what creates angst in the first place. Here’s where things get a little “woo, woo”, so bear with me….
It’s human to see ourselves as “in our own skin”, so to speak, as separate humans – your body over there, my body over here. Most people, I think, buy into this. I however, was always perturbed by this concept of separateness. For me, there was a deep, pervasive sense of something in separation that felt terribly wrong. Seeing you separate from me and thinking that what I do affects me and what you do affects you is capable of creating the deepest of depressions (especially for those who are more creatively or philosophically-inclined). Our sense of belonging is in fact, so intensely strong, that we don’t even realize how often we feel uneasy about not belonging – about separateness.
So back to attachment. Being attached to anything creates separateness. Non-attachment is the opposite of separation. In non-attachment, because there’s nothing to attach to, you are one with everything, including wealth and happiness (defined appropriately). There’s nothing outside of you, nothing to attach to, so you are fulfilled within yourself. (We’ll not talk about loss and grieving. That’s for another day).
The Obsessive Pursuit of Money: A Sneaky Attachment
Here’s a scenario that shows why focusing intensely on getting more money can backfire:
Let’s say I spend every day chanting about, meditating on, or thinking and talking about the pursuit of money. Let’s say that I do this because I believe that doing these things or thinking this way will get me more money AND because I equate money with wealth, I pursue money because I think it will bring me wealth or success. I want money because I won’t have to work as hard or maybe not at all. I believe that not working as hard or not at all will make me happy. Therefore, in my mind, money = happiness. What I have done is created a very long loop of beliefs stacked upon each other for the sake of happiness… but that happiness is not HERE. It is actually coming from outside of me!! I’m spending precious moments basing everything on, “will this bring me more money?” and thereby, staking my happiness on that pursuit, entirely.
Being happy with what I have NOW is key. But is that possible?
It is, but it’s a choice.
I choose now on being happy with what I have. I know what I have will change. Not only does focusing on being happy with what I have now simplify my thinking and save precious moments, but it takes the pressure off of the external and frees money up to go where it needs to go, which is actually coming now in my direction! I have used money inappropriately for the sake of happiness in the past. Now, I have given it its freedom and guess what? I find I have more money than I thought!
Keeping My Creativity, Passion and Goals While Detaching and Still Feeling Richer
I made the investment in a wonderful financial advisor (best investment ever!) and am using great financial tools. I found successful ways to save money. I started up a “success team” group and I’m actively working on my personal, artistic goals. I do not do this with the ideals from before. I do these things because they excite me and make me happy.
I learned that there’s nothing wrong with making goals, making friends, loving your partner and/or children and feeling a sense of belonging or passion toward those things. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying life through the things that float our way. Non-attachment does not require extreme measures or insinuate a lack of passion. Non-attachment simply comes from believing that nothing is truly separate, so don’t stress. Like the waves on the ocean, these things come and go. My job as a creative person is to enjoy the passion of those beautiful things and capture them as best I can.
So when I pondered, “What mindset should I have about money?”, the idea of ocean waves came to me – like the golden, ocean waves in the photos I took last week, posted here. These wave comes forcefully at times and collapse at our feet with complete disregard to what we are doing. At other times, they collapses gently, but they always return to the ocean, only to come back again. I stand there in front of these waves and enjoy their salty strength. I feel their unwavering, gravitational pull under the sand as they go back out. They repeat this song continuously, but never exactly the same. I don’t chase the waves because I know they will return. I don’t worship them; I’m a part of them anyway. And I don’t yearn for them or foolishly throw myself onto them in the vacuum of their disappearance out of my own desperation. I simply watch them come and go and dance with them when I want.
I aim to derive my “wealth” like this. I aim to learn the tides and dance with them, unattached. And if through my learning, I am able to enjoy myself and bring joy to someone else through what I create, then I’m satisfied and I feel rich.
You see this goblet? asks Achaan Chaa, the Thai meditation master. For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.
– Mark Epstein
Thoughts Without a Thinker