Sometimes it takes a reboot of perspective to help us see where we can become better and more attuned to what is important. Possibly the most important area where this can happen is with money and our relationship to it. As anyone raising children can attest, money is an important and necessary aspect of having a family and a crew of people (or a person) dependent on you. It’s not always the most fun thing to rely on for your health and wellness, but money is every parent’s partner in raising kids whether they acknowledge it or not.
So often the paths toward feeling financially secure (and therefore secure overall) are riddled with compromises and unhappiness. We want to stay home and bond with our new child but feel compelled to go to a job we don’t really enjoy because bills have to get paid and we “need” money. The fact is money is necessary and that fact won’t, unfortunately, change (if ever and currently any time soon). However is the compromise of happiness and family time coming from a place of true necessity or self imposed limitations from a dated and negative perspective on money? It may be true that you “need” money but the idea that it has to come at a deep personal cost to your relationship with your child is questionable. We may not even know how deeply these negative financial perspectives we believe run, until a better way to perceive life is shown to us. Well, here are some ways to think and re-envision your relationship to money so you might enjoy your relationships more overall.
1. You really can have it all.
Who says that you can’t stay home with your kids and be rich and follow your dreams all in the same lifetime and even at the same time? There are so many people that have done this and continue to do it. That such a reality really does exist should be obvious by now. Believing that there are concessions to be made and dreams to shelve once you have kids (or even in general) is misguided. With the will to make things happen that you find pleasing and preferable, you can find a way to spend more time with your children, to stay at home and to follow your dreams whether or not you have been raised with money or have a ton of money on hand. Many of the wealthy people around the world have started from little to nothing or have had points in their lives when they’ve been flat “broke.” As the saying goes, when there is a will, there is a way.
2. Taking care of yourself isn’t wrong.
You just can’t be donating money when you don’t have any just as you can’t be a surrogate mother if you don’t have a womb. By taking care of yourself, you are able to give back. You are able to come from a place of abundance and give freely when you don’t feel that your needs are unmet. Even if you had the time to volunteer, you need to also have the fulfillment of your own needs from money to sleep and family time. If you don’t have enough to buy healthy food, you won’t have the health to be in any position to even take care of yourself. It’s not selfish to help yourself even if the “self help” is in the form of seemingly frivolous shopping. Other people may perceive your “self-help” and the way you meet your needs as selfishness but you are the only person whose judgment on your habits matters.
Many arguments can be made about spending money wisely and what constitutes an important and meaningful purchase but the point is that you were filling your needs on whatever level you felt they needed to be filled. Perhaps your needs run deep and the way that you’ve been accustomed to meeting them is through spending money on material things. You can imagine that if you had lots of money you might meet your needs with buying lots of things and acting what seems “selfishly.” Yet who would know whether or not your actions are selfish but you? To deprive yourself completely– money or no money– because you are worried about the perception of others creates further self-un-fulfillment. Even acting inperceived excess of needs isn’t an indication of selfishness, it’s an indication that you might need help to fill your own personal void.
Many people think that they must give up their comforts and freedoms to be good parents or to be happy. This simply isn’t true. You can still enjoy the things that make you happy even if that means becoming more creative about the ways you enjoy these things. Sure you can’t just leave your house at any moment to go out to the bar and party if you have small children, but that doesn’t mean that you will never be able to go to the bar and party if that is something you enjoy and feel you “need” to feel balanced and happy in your life. The idea that you must fulfill a role of martyr to be a good parent– make the money and spend none of it on yourself unless it’s absolutely necessary– is a toxic relationship to money that creates frustration and resentment and unhappiness on your behalf. The underlying assumption is that there isn’t enough money to fill your needs and that you must sacrifice your money to make ends meet. Perhaps money is scarce for you at the moment, it still doesn’t mean that what you spend must be lopsided in favor of the rest of your household over yourself. You are still a member of the family and deserve to have a portion of those funds go to your health and wellness as well. There is no selfishness in filling your own cup so that you might continue to fill the cups of others especially when those others are your children who need you immensely.
3. Money isn’t the root of evil- evil is the root of evil.
Bad people come with all quantity of money in their bank account. Poverty creates sadness and many problems just as concentration of wealth creates isolation and poverty. However, that doesn’t mean that it is rich versus poor or anything of the sort. It is simply that you can make money and be a jerk just as you can be poor and rude. Money is simply an access pass for material goods and the trappings of civilization from a living space to clothing and food and fun things like computers, iPads, and all sorts of entertainment. Being a good person is not affected by the level of money that you acquire or lose. While it may seem like money “changes” people, perhaps it is worth noting that the inklings of who a person can become is in their personality long before they become that person. Money is simply an access pass whether that is an access to a side of yourself that lay dormant or cool things that you previously couldn’t afford.
4. Health improves with options. Options cost money.
Organic food is expensive. So is locally sourced food and even more so are Eco-friendly products like a 100% cotton baby wrap or cloth diapers. It’s not impossible to eat healthy– non-GMO, organic, local, sustainable, whole food, et. al.– on a budget. It’s not impossible to afford medical treatment if you need it, and regular routine check-ups even without insurance. While it’s possible to afford all these things and to live the way you would like with the best diapers, baby products, foods, and all matter of lifestyle, money is a definite aide in helping you get where you would like to be in your lifestyle and health. To feel that money is a “necessary evil” when it can provide such important and amazing things is an unfortunate view. How about money is an important and necessary friend to support the best future of those who mean the most to you: your family?
5. Positive influences are just what they seem: positive influences.
When it comes to money, are you surrounded by people who feel they are abundant and capable of abundance? Or are you surrounded by people complaining that they don’t have enough and are deeply in debt: people with a negative and toxic relationship to money? These attitudes are contagious (either good ones or bad ones). Attitudes and beliefs can be passed along generation to generation like philosophical genes and they can also infect your consciousness like the flu. Think of religions: they are not genes or viruses and yet children raised religiously continue throughout the rest of their lives to have a relationship to religion and a deep perspective on the matter the influences their relationship to these ideologies. When people are complaining about their monetary plights, remember that those are their beliefs and do not have to become yours. People believe many different things and if you think of money attitudes like a religion, you might be more discerning about the kind of information you take in, dispense, and allow your children to hear. There is no more validity to believing that you have to work hard and suffer to make a buck than there is that money is abundant and all it takes is someone ready and willing to seize it. What would you rather believe? What would you rather hear on a regular basis? Even if you don’t mind others’ negative attitudes about money, what kind of financial beliefs would you like your children and family to cultivate?
6. Good things don’t come to those who wait, good things come to those who go out and seize them.
Waiting for the right moment, to win the lottery, until you get promoted and all the other myriad excuses for mediocrity are… EXCUSES FOR MEDIOCRITY! If you want something, it is up to you to go out and get it! Even should you continue to believe that waiting will yield something good, understand that you still must set-up your life to yield something good. A farmer might have to wait for crops to sprout and yield good things but she will have plowed the fields, planted the seeds and watered them well (or installed irrigation systems to do it for her). There is only time to wait once you’ve set a plan in motion where abundance will sprout forth and yield good things. So concoct a plan for success and continue toward your goal until you reach it.
7. The future is bright, the past has passed.
Looking behind you and theorizing about what would have happened if… is not going to help anyone. Life can often be difficult and full of devastation just as it can be full of beauty and exhilaration. Whether you had a good time or a bad time is not going to change what has already happened. Hindsight is 20/20 because it is supremely simple to look back at any event and think of all the ways that you could have acted better, responded better, and created an “easier” future. But you didn’t. The same applies to recollecting positive memories– the memories won’t change. The past is static and to live your life looking backward on what’s already happened won’t allow you much time to look forward on what can happen.
Looking toward the future– even if that’s just what you’d like to have for lunch– is allowing yourself to set goals for happiness and fulfillment. Looking toward the future creates inspiration for where you would like to be in 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months, 10 years… People who are so wrapped up in what has already happened, actively trying to recreate the “good old days” miss all the opportunities for making new and exciting memories today. This doesn’t imply that you should never look fondly on the past taking a moment to reflect, but it does imply that to strictly operate from a place of “things were better when…” is not going to allow you to actually make things better.
If you look at life like a science experiment, it would be impossible to re-create “the good old days” even in a controlled environment because life is full of so many variables! The good old days saw a different diet, lifestyle, job, friends, age, health, environment, wardrobe… there is simply no way to “go back” to when things were good. Even if you made the same recipes from 5 years ago, the foods you make them with will be different as they are affected by the weather, the farms they are grown, the distance they travel to your plate and so forth. The only way to make things good again is to adapt and create a new way to be happy.
You can’t stop being a parent (and hopefully you wouldn’t want to), you probably wouldn’t want to go back to eating ramen noodles and bananas because you couldn’t afford anything better, and eventually most people grow out of wanting to stay up until 4am partying most days of the week. So you adapt and change your definition of a “good day” and “fun.” The future is malleable just as your attitude toward it. The great thing about the future, as well, is that you can control it entirely. If you are unhappy today, the future is totally within your ability to create happiness. It may seem flippant to suggest that a shitty circumstance could be so easily changed and happiness within your reach. However, with the other shifts in consciousness, it is true. Even an abusive relationship can be transformed. Being overweight can be transformed. Anything can be transformed. Reclaiming or redefining happiness is a goal and when that goal is achieved and the process used to achieve it makes transformation possible.
8. Put your energy where your passion lies.
What is your passion? Is your passion video games? Is it living an exciting life? Is your passion writing? Is it camping, photography, trying new foods, eating locally grown foods, cleaning your house, pursuing happiness, birth, death, caring for others? Whatever your passion is, that is where your energy should go. People aren’t great, wealthy, privileged or famous because they are better than you or luckier, more privileged, born into it or any of those myriad assumptions about wealth and fame. Sure there are some perks that make pursuing passions or finding what those passions may be much easier, however anyone that you see who appears successful is likely successful because they are committed to their work.
Commitment is the most important aspect of becoming successful and requires a huge amount of energy and investment. However, commitment, as anyone who has ever been in a relationship with anyone knows, is easiest when there is passion. A mother or father doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night multiple times to change diapers and feed their child without commitment to being a responsive and loving parent and the passion of love and adoration for their baby. Any business owner doesn’t run their business without working hard and passionately toward the success of their venture. Without the investment of the individual (passion!), there is no energy. A job that you dislike still requires your energy but it drains you instead of charging you with excitement. To find a job that stimulates your excitement and passion is to find a job where you can be successful, happy, and have the energy to share after work with the people who matter most: your family and friends. This is the difference between having the money to pursue your passions– it’s really having the money to go through the process of self-discovery– and resigning yourself to unhappiness and energy-draining work because you know it will take a bit more planning to pursue your goals.
While you may need to take classes or create avenues for exploring your own passions whereas someone with more resources would go a different route or take less time, the end result is the same. You are still self-discovering and pursuing a way to profit off your happiness, interests, and excitement. Not only is this the best possible scenario for you, it is ideal for your children as well. To show your children that you can do what makes you happy and interests you while also making money is a gift that not many people pass along. So often we are told that it is impossible to be happy and work– that’s why it’s called work. What a sad myth that so many people believe. Break that– if it stops being fun, then why do it? Sure you need money but there are many ways to make money that don’t require you to be miserable.
9. Money is a thing not an emotion.
Money is a thing and its language is math. Math is linear and logical. You think that money is many different things because of all the doors it opens for you when you have it. However, money is nothing but an agreed upon symbol of trade. If you don’t have anything worthy to trade to someone from whom you want something, then you give them money to say “thank you for your service.” Maybe you feel that something is not worth your acknowledgment and you don’t want to spend money on it. Well, this is not money, but rather your feelings. It’s not that a terribly made shirt overpriced is because of money, but rather that you feel it is a terribly made, overpriced shirt. However, if you actually want to wear that terribly made over priced shirt, then you have to decide if that money it costs is worth it to you. Paying for anything is not a matter of actual worth but rather its worth to you.
A healthy attitude toward money is simply a matter of math: I have $100 and I am going to buy a $10 lunch so I can have $40 of money leftover for my family’s tickets to the carnival (and apparently extra to save or spend if desired). Where the unhealthy attitudes and relationships start to form is when judgment is passed on those expenses and the amount of money you have. You don’t have to pay for a cell phone, but you do. You don’t have to buy a new dress, but you want to. It’s not money, it’s the emotions driving you to spend that money (or not to spend it). Don’t blame money and feel negatively toward it because you can’t “afford” something you like, because it’s “too expensive,” “you shouldn’t have spent that money,” or whatever other feelings. Those thoughts have nothing to do with money and just to do with your own feelings about taking care of yourself and materialism. For example, it’s much easier to be upset at an inanimate object (money) than it is to look deeply at yourself and ask why you feel that you don’t deserve $100 worth of new underwear when yours are old and falling apart. It’s not money or $100 of money, it’s your own feelings about spending any quantity of money or spending money on yourself over your children and others.
10. It’s not what you do, it’s who you are.
It is a running joke that idiots are promoted to places of management while “hard workers” and intelligent, knowledgeable employees are left rotting in minimum wage, part-time, or somewhere far below their qualifications. It may seem like the cards are stacked against qualified people to get what they deserve but if you look at the heads of many major companies (like Apple and Steve Jobs or Microsoft and Bill Gates) it is quite easy to see that these are the qualified people that got what they deserved. What’s the difference between you and them? Nothing but their desire to stop at nothing to get what they deserve. When people pursue their dreams, passions, and what they want, the results are usually pretty awesome.
It would have been incredibly easy for Bill Gates to work at an electronic store and possibly work his way through middle management to a position like regional manager or even slightly more prestigious. However, without a college degree he likely wouldn’t have made his way to a billionaire going the tolerant-of-BS-route that most people take. The fictional Bill Gates working under someone wouldn’t be a billionaire simply because he didn’t believe that he was capable or deserving of making that money. This fictional Gates would miss out on billions because he believes there’s a certain amount of shit that he has to put up with because (insert excuse here). But that’s not the Bill Gates the world has come to know. Bill Gates instead gave a hearty screw you to that system knowing full well that he was bad ass enough to succeed and didn’t need the validation of a lifetime of promotions to tell him. He knew that what he was capable of giving to the world would have only been inhibited by keeping himself in a box of some other company’s handbook and goals. And he is clearly, indisputably better off for it.
You are truly no different. We are all given the same opportunity in life– it is the work of indoctrination and belief otherwise that lets us stay inhibited by systems of others that don’t serve us. Your boss may very well be a raging moron and totally inadequate at his job, however, your tolerance of his bullshit is the problem. If you are as good and qualified as you believe you are, then what is stopping you from being the best, from being better, from having any position of value? It is yourself. Hard to swallow. Once you take control of your future and invest in yourself, the sky is the limit. Most importantly, once you do this, you teach your children to do the same! To teach your child how to believe that they are capable of anything (really, not just in words but in practice) is a gift not to be undervalued.
If you notice that children of “wealthy” people or “CEOs” or whatever class of people act in a certain way (the son is more ruthless than the dad, the daughter is a better actress than her mom…), it is because that is what they were shown. They are only doing what they learned from their parents. It’s not that their parents were necessarily good examples (ruthless CEOs aren’t everyone’s favorite breed of company leader…) but just as you are a product of your parent’s teachings so are these children. What are you going to teach your children?
There are 10 more tips for abundant thinking! Come read ’em at Abundant Thinking Part 2. 🙂