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What is Money
When I think about money, there is one bizarre personal experience that still rings in my mind as a formative one, and in one way or another, it helped me develop the wealth I enjoy today.
One fateful night in 2016, I woke up in the middle of the night and took three tabs of LSD. It wasn’t planned, at least not by me. I had awoken in a hypnopompic trance, and in some sense I might say the effect of the substance was retroactive, because I felt very keenly the presence of some small interdimensional beings, urging me to take what I had hidden in my desk drawer in a matchbox.
“Take the medicine! Take the medicine!” they implored me.
While I had taken LSD before, this was certainly not my standard method.
Some hours later, the drugs had taken hold, and I was faced with some kind of cosmic consciousness. It asked me to make a wish. Anything I desired could be mine; I just had to name it.
At first I said "That's okay, I am content with what I have." This unnamed being saw right through me, saying with the gentle mocking tone of a dear friend "Don't pretend to be so enlightened! Come on, say what you want and I'll make it for you."
I thought "Very well, I would like to have abundant wealth, such that I never have to worry about money ever again. And this should be available not just to me, but to everyone on Earth."
Then, maybe it was something like “Okay.”
I’m still not sure exactly what happened that night, or why. As a disclaimer, I don’t recommend taking these potent substances, except perhaps in the context of a ceremony with a trained guide. Nor do I recommend accepting offers from faceless djinn who appear in the darkness. Nor do I make any strong claims about how this affected my financial situation. However, I will say that since that night I have barely had to worry about money.
Apart from the chemical and supernatural means, I do have some more practical tips. Accepting help from unusual spirits might be one way to gain wealth, but our daily habits are likely more of a determining factor.
1. Be open.
Scientist Richard Wiseman was very curious about the nature of luck, and performed a lot of experiments to see, for example, if a black cat or a white cat was lucky or unlucky, if people were more likely to guess the toss of a coin if they had just broken a mirror.
In one key experiment, he asked self-proclaimed “lucky” and “unlucky” people to count the number of photographs in a newspaper. For unlucky people, it took them a couple of minutes. For lucky people, it took them a few seconds, because they noticed the two inch type on page two saying “STOP COUNTING – there are 43 photographs in this newspaper.”
In How To Change Your Mind, Michael Pollan refers to a related concept which he calls “flashlight consciousness” and “lantern consciousness”. Many grown-ups operate solely in flashlight mode, hyperfocusing on what they deem to be important. Children, and perhaps “lucky” people, are more open to whatever comes, which means they are surprised more often, they are more curious, and happier. When we are open to new ideas, curious about new things, we are more likely to find opportunities.
In the early years of Bitcoin, many people heard about it, and many were indifferent or scared about it. Later they wondered why they didn’t buy even a little bit. But a few people were curious about its novelty, and bought some, perhaps just to see what it could do, and some of those did very well for themselves.
2. Be resourceful.
When I lived in Melbourne, I would see people literally throw away quality, useful furniture because it didn’t fit their new decor, every month on hard rubbish collection day. I’m sure it’s not the only place it happens, and many people furnish their entire apartments with things they find, literally on the side of the road.
Likewise, many times I’ve bought really great clothes second-hand, from charity shops or other sources. Sometimes it’s worth paying full price for something, but in many cases there are ways to make things work for a fraction of the cost.
Living on the ranch in Jalisco, I like to ask my companions “How can we re-use this?” There are no garbage trucks coming around, so when we do have trash, we have to figure out what to do with it. You might take a plastic bottle, for example. Of course you can use it again as a bottle. You can also cut off the bottom and put some holes in it to make a planter for new seeds. Take the tops of twenty bottles, and they can be stuck together to form a drain pipe. Fill the bottle with other plastic, paper and other waste, and soon it has enough mass to be used as a brick in natural building, mortared together with bahareque or cobb.
In Dr. Jeffrey Zeig's book Evocation, and other work on Ericksonian therapy, he refers to a state called “utilization”, which means embracing events and objects that arise – even if, in fact, especially if, they might seem to be obstacles. By looking at things in a slightly different way, we might discover that our problem is a solution that we didn’t even know we had – and that applies to our internal resources as well as external ones.
3. Be liberal.
In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle describes the golden mean between the illiberal and the prodigal:
The illiberal man is miserly, and when he hands over money he does it begrudgingly. The prodigal man spends carelessly on trifles, perhaps even trying to impress others with his extravagance. However, the liberal man spends discerningly, happily paying for high quality goods and memorable experiences.
Many people are naturally prone to spending money, using it on whatever thing they see first. To approach the golden mean in that case is to “pay oneself first”, to put away money for savings, investments and charity as soon as they receive a payment. Then to keep a budget, at least for a short time, or to observe one’s spending habits, and to note the money available in reference to the next pay period. Measuring one’s spending even for a couple of weeks can start to transform how a person looks at money.
In the case of the illiberal man, counting pennies and keeping a budget is likely to worsen his problem. For the stingiest among them, it is right to buy gifts for others, or to spend money on oneself in order to affirm through action that he is already wealthy.
As my LSD trip wound down on that strange night, another thing happened. As I was looking at my shoes, some old sneakers I had bought 7 years before, another helpful spirit said to me: “And buy some new shoes. I mean, it’s your life, it’s your experience. You can do what you want… but seriously, you have money. Buy some shoes.” So I did.
4. Be integral.
In a world where many walk around with high technology in their pockets, where knowledge is cheap, and even sacred things become commodities, integrity still shines like a beacon, to the right people.
It is an inspiring feeling to think of a friend and know that he will perform whatever task is set of him, with his own brand of excellence. It is a grand comfort to hold a friend dear, who is ready with a listening ear, who will hear you out and understand you. And greater still is the friend who can listen to you carefully, and contradict you when helpful. Just as iron sharpens iron, the countenance of a friend sharpens a friend.
In Toward A Psychology Of Being, Abraham Maslow notes that self-actualised people are always creative, though that creativity may express itself in ways that are quite mundane. For example, a housewife might arrange furniture, wildflowers and art in her home in a way that is aesthetically pleasing, even with limited means.
Similarly, Don Miguel Ruíz tells us in The Four Agreements that the fourth rule of the Toltecs is “Always do your best”. If you don’t do your best, you can always wonder later what would have happened if you did, and that leads to regrets. If you do your best, you are satisfied with your own actions, and you move towards excellence. How a person does one thing is often how they do everything.
When people lead with their own integrity, it is natural that other people of integrity will notice. To those who possess it, it is unmistakable, and though it runs to a man’s core, it cannot be hidden, even in a casual conversation.
Therefore, they will favor you as a friend, or a business partner, or other associate. While a scattered man must be very smart, arranging his life so that things might work out favorably for him, an integral man will often find that things work out almost by themselves, because he has good on his side.
Possessing these qualities, it is likely that profitable opportunities will come to a person. And if somehow they don’t, they still have their character, which is a wealth greater than money.
Renowned Latin poet and singer Facundo Cabral tells this story:
God is curious about the state of things in the world, and so he puts on his civilian clothes, disguising Himself as a beggar. He wanders the street and watches people, taking it all in. He happens to walk into a cobbler’s store and workshop.
The Lord says to the cobbler “Excuse me brother, I haven’t a coin on me, but my sandals are so worn the soles of my feet touch the ground and begin to scrape. It causes me so much pain. Could you please do me the favor of repairing them?”
The cobbler said “I am tired of everyone coming to ask for things, and so few with things to give.”
The Lord responded “I can give you what you need.”
Naturally the cobbler was doubtful and said “Could you give me the million dollars I need to be happy?”
The Almighty said to him “I can give you ten million dollars, in exchange for something. All you have to do is give me your legs.”
The cobbler humored the beggar and said “What would I do with ten million dollars, if I can’t even walk?”
The Lord responded “Very well. I will give you one hundred million dollars, for your arms.”
“And what good is all that money if I can’t even eat on my own?”
“Very well. My final offer… I will give you one billion dollars, for your eyes.”
The cobbler said “Why would I want a billion dollars if I can’t see my wife, my children, or my friends?”
So the Lord said “My dear brother, now you see your true fortune.”
Listen to Kurt’s podcast A Beautiful Thought or book a coaching session with Kurt on www.beautifulpodcast.com
GOOD LUCK FREEDOM FIGHTERS!
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