Today is Day 4 of the 30 Day Belief Experimentation trial, marking the end of the second belief experiment. This is the belief about money!
Go make that money, money, money
Yo money, money, money
‘Cause I know how it is, go and handle your biz
And make that money, money, money
Yo money, money, money…
-“I Don’t Mind” by Usher (ain’t them beautiful words?)
Structure of the Belief Overview
I will assess the following questions (this section is more detailed in the Belief Experiment #1 write-up):
(1) What perceptual points will best take me back to this belief? (2) What do I take this belief to mean?
To clarify, the first question asks, How can I recreate the perception this belief gives me? I could also state it as, What stands out when I hold this belief?
There are two parts to 2: (a) Where/how this belief logically fits into my current belief system (if it does so), and (b) If and how the belief is important to me: what I have learned from it, how it has led me to behave differently, etc.
I’ll start with (2a), then address (1), and finally (if needed), (2b).
What is the Context for this Belief?
Context for the Belief: To keep it brief, money, like all things, only bears the meaning that I give to it. Also, it is possible to meet my needs in ways aside from money.
The Belief: Money is not a power source: it cannot bring me wealth, abundance, or happiness.
What is the Experience of the Belief?
Because this addresses only one low-level aspect of reality, in contrast with the first belief I tried on (which assessed reality at a higher, more fundamental level), the changes are more straightforward and not quite as drastic but they certainly are noticeable.
Most significant is that I’ve considered my desires for money and for other things as separate. This means that I don’t think “I want $400 so I can get a bike”; instead it’s “I want $400” and, independently, “I want a bike.” This may seem a bit nit-picky but it matters, because the first statement insists that I need money to get what I want, and to do so is to assume that money can make me more powerful (“power” can basically be defined as an exertion of your will, which translates to getting what you want).
I’ve been more open to the possible ways in which the money can show up. I’ve considered that money and opportunities to make money really are everywhere, including right in front of my face. All I have to do is view reality through the proper lenses to see them.
“Show up” doesn’t mean that I expect it to just fall into my lap, though I won’t discount the possibility.
Yesterday I was firm about finding pennies, at the least. I expected I would find them on a sidewalk somewhere, as is stereotypical (I’ll tell you now there were no pennies on the ground). Towards the end of the day I went to the mall, forgetting that there was a fountain there. To my pleasant surprise there were plenty of pennies at the bottom- and nickels, and dimes, and quarters. I didn’t take the money, but hey, it was there. J
I likewise have been more open to more deliberate ways that I could make money, though I still keep separate “I want to do this” and “I want to make X amount of money.” This is not to say that I wouldn’t set up projects so that I can profit from them, but, again—if those aren’t quite the ways that I earn money then that is fine and dandy.
Perhaps I should mention that I highly considered getting a job this Summer, though between this belief and the first I tested I’ve decided against it. To do something I don’t want to in the name of money would be to assume that money is more powerful than I am (which it’s not!). I do get concerned that I may be asserting this too early in regards to my age and the current standing of this website, but, hey—if it turns out that I am very wrong I’m sure I can easily find someone to call “boss” at any point. ;)
I also have been trying to desensitize myself to money—that is, to have only a neutral emotional reaction to larger and larger sums of money. This has been slightly harder to accept because it seems contradictory to having a joyful, grateful outlook. However, it simultaneously makes sense that allowing money to dictate my emotional state is, once again, to give my power to money.
Contending with this has probably been the most fascinating part of this belief experiment, particularly because I’ve begun to translate this attitude to other parts of my life.
This attitude became easier to embrace once I likened money to finishing times in a race (i.e. speed). As I wrote in Belief Experimentation, 3 years ago it was no big deal to me if I ran 3000 meters (1.875 miles) in less than 11 minutes and 30 seconds—in fact, it disgusted me if I didn’t (well, or I may have laughed, if I won that race).
My best time was 10:54, and though I had to bust my ass and was happy to break 11:00 for a second time my coach and I actually considered this as somewhat of a bad thing. We basically said, “Well Kim, you have a long time to think about this (it was the last race of the year), and you have a long time to improve (I was in 10th grade), but, eh, good job anyway.”
Whenever I was upset about my performance, other people couldn’t quite relate. Toward the beginning of the season my friend and I ran in 11:45, no sweat. A girl from the other team called us “superhumans.” We just smiled.
Contrast that with my senior year, where I would have considered it a miracle if I ever could have broken 12:00 (I still would now, but I didn’t run this event in college). Perhaps the attitude arose from my apparent inability to do so, but I would bet that this attitude also fed into that inability.
When your results decline consistently for a while, as mine have with running, I would consider it decent to at least acknowledge any improvements but still refuse to emotionally invest yourself in the results. Remember—you dictate your score. It does not dictate you.
It also has been somewhat helpful to compare money to relationships. A decent attitude to take (which could be strengthened in me—next belief?) seems to say, “I don’t need anything from this person—I am just happy to be with them.” Neediness, as we all know, tends to be unattractive. It’s far more enjoyable to go to someone already feeling happy with and interested in life, and to share that happiness and interest with them.
With money, such an attitude returns to the means of receiving money. For instance, I can say, “I don’t need to make money from this website- I am happy just to work on it,” and it would be no lie. If I do make money through this website, that’s great. If I don’t, I’ll just find another way. At my core, I am unaffected by this outcome.
In general, I’ve tried to see money as something smaller than I am—even if it is an infinite amount of money. It’s just numbers in a database, which sometimes takes the form of paper. Gold, silver, and copper are just metals.
In video games, losing money is no sweat: there is always more to be easily made, and in a variety of ways. There is no need to be emotionally attached to it—it is by no means the most important nor the most fun aspect of the game. Besides- even a character who remains poor for some time can fare quite well.
The players who focus on being the wealthiest probably will not be the most powerful—not when their friends are slaying dragons. No amount of money could stop that dragon from burning a weak player—perhaps even one with the best armor and spell-books-- to dust.
From an objective standpoint, does it make sense to say that lifeless paper and metal are more powerful than I am? Of course not—I can destroy and throw these things around at will (though I may get arrested for it).
From a subjective standpoint, does it make sense to say that something which is an extension of myself is more powerful than me? No, because how can I be more powerful than myself (maybe unless you consider bodily processes and reactions, as well as insanity)? Money, like everything, is contained within consciousness but it is not awareness in itself. Rather, money is dictated by consciousness (this makes sense at a down-to-earth level: who gives meaning to money? Conscious beings— specifically, us).
To even say that the system is more powerful than me is fallible. If I sit on my ass and complain about the monetary system I am giving power to that system, and draining myself of it.
Overall, even though this belief pertains to one concrete aspect of life, it has helped and will continue to help me approach life as a whole differently. How neat. J
What does the Belief Mean to Me?
Through trying to hold this belief I’ve noticed that I’ve been attached to some questionable, downright silly thoughts about money. Sometimes I think that money can only be made in relatively-heartless ways, and all the “good” work I do which aligns with my personal values will only remain “good” if done for free.
Of course, I am by no means alone in that belief. I’m sure plenty of other people feel the same way, from the CEOs of the wealthiest companies right down to the people in the poorest neighborhoods. Indeed, you can make money in relatively-heartless ways, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create profitable social value which also aligns with your personal values. It may be a challenge to accomplish, but I think it’s far more worthwhile than bending over and accepting erroneous ideas about reality.
I can also see that I’ve considered money to be some elusive, mysterious object—much like running fast, which I compared to money in the previous section. But fundamentally, I know there is no need for this. These things are not separate from me, nor are they bigger than I am.
I mentioned earlier that it has been interesting for me to reduce my emotional reaction to money. This attitude has helped me to further detach from outcomes, which was one of the aims of my first belief, and also to consider that I need not be run purely by emotions. I can allow my intellect and my emotions to work together, such that my emotions fall in line only with beliefs that are reasonable to me. In this way I can be guided by emotions and trust them to take me in a favorable direction. Thus, the more accurately I understand this world the more I can trust myself, and the more I trust in my ability to understand accurately, the more I can do so.
From here on out, as long as I continue to hold and strengthen this belief I trust that my ability to receive (make, earn- whatever) money will increase, and the general attitudes inherent to the belief will help me to live more competently.
And if I remain with relative financial lack for a while, so be it. I will keep in mind that I must learn the lessons of and make peace with scarcity before I can truly appreciate and understand abundance.
Money can be a fun aspect of this reality, which, like all things, can help us to better understand ourselves and to grow. There’s no need to get our panties- whether they be made of paper or the finest Egyptian silk- in a knot about it. ;)
For my next belief, as I discussed earlier, I shall consider that I do not need anything (emotionally, in particular) from other people. I’m not sure whether this will produce negligible changes or massive ones… We’ll see. J
The following articles by Steve Pavlina were immensely helpful to me in this experiment:
Abundance in a World of Limited Resources: "Abundance... [is] about learning what we truly value and realizing that we can in fact create that value if we so desire."
Gratitude: "When you're living the life of your dreams this is how you're going to feel anyway, so why wait?"
There are lots, I know. :)