This is the second article in a two-part series examining seven ways to worry less about money. The first article explored how the mind likes to act on internal assumptions about everyday money experiences, how to let go of greed, and why focusing on a worthy goal can reduce money worries. In this post, we will continue to explore these themes and offer four additional suggestions to help you manage your money fears.
View Other People's Money Choices With Compassion
"If external things pain you, it is not they that disturb you, but your judgment of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now." - Marcus Aurelius
It's natural to judge other people's money choices. In today's world, with social media amplifying the behavior of nearly everyone and everything, it's never been easier to apply judgment to other people's financial situations. With money playing such an essential role in the modern world, judging people by how much money they seem to have, or have not, is a near-constant in life. This form of judgment has subtle quality, but if you listen to the language of our culture, you'll hear money judging statements remarkable often. For example, we see an old friend on social media traveling the world, posting beautiful photos of exotic places, and we assume they must be wealthy. At the same time, we might see another person is old clothes driving an old car and believe them to be broke. We apply judgment to the frugality of others by calling them cheap, and we condemn lavishness as wastefulness. Listen to the way language is used about money, and you'll note offhand comments about class, wealth, and the perceived value of people by how much wealth they seem to have. A money judging mind is a constant source of worry and stress. This type of thinking leads to dissatisfaction and discontent. So long as we judge people by the standards of wealth, we remain on a treadmill of worry.
What is the antidote of this form of thinking? The answer is to look upon people's financial situations, and your own, with a compassionate and empathic attitude. When we cultivate this attitude, it brings us inner peace. We feel less anger, hatred, and the tendency to compare ourselves to others decreases. We begin to view people with understanding and empathy. When someone else is wealthy, we are happy for them, and when we notice someone else's poverty, we open our hearts to their pain. At the same time, through the lens of compassion, we no longer let other people's behavior distribute us. With this attitude, we can focus on the things we can change in our financial life while letting go of the judgment of other people's finances.
Work For The Benefit Of Others
When we have money, or when we do not, it's easy to fall into thinking that if you only had enough wealth, then you would be able to satisfy all your desires, and you will be free of worry. This form of thinking is seductive, and manifest is all kinds of ways and is only partially accurate. In fact, according to a 2018 study published in the Journal Nature Human Behaviour, when a person makes between $60,000 to $75,000, they receive the maximum emotional boost to their well-being that wealth can provide. Additionally, when a person's income reaches $95,000 a year income, their desire for material goods is satiated. They'll also found that when a person's income increases above these levels, individuals no longer report feeling happier. The authors speculated that as people earned more money, happiness might actually decrease. As high salaries are usually accompanied by high demands (time, workload, responsibility, and so on), and this might limit opportunities for positive experiences (for example, leisure activities). Also, they noted that more wealth leads to the rise in phenomena known as the hedonic treadmill. The hedonic treadmill is when a person's wealth and income increases, their expectations and desires rise in tandem. So the increase in income results in no permanent gain in happiness.
So if money doesn't buy happiness and free you from worry, what can you do? The answer is to make our work to benefit others. When we work for the benefit of there, fears about money subside while feelings of joy, benevolence, and generosity increase. Working to help others come in many forms, but generally, when we work towards social justice and fulfill our duties as parents, children, friends, and members of the community, we derive great satisfaction. Through helping another human being, we find meaning and belonging. Where there was once focus on fulling the next level of desire, there emerges a deep joy in knowing that what you do makes a difference in other people's lives.
Align Your Money and Your Values
When you become really clear about your values, your happiness increases, and money worries go down. One of the best ways to align your life with your values is to spend time identifying your five most important values. Work to make these values the centerpiece of your life. An excellent tool to identify your values is through the use of a values sorting exercise. You can view instructions for completing this exercise here and access the actual value cards here. If you complete this exercise with sincerity, this will help you distill your most important values. After you complete the activity, write your five most essential values down, then examine if the decisions your making with your money align with these values. If a gap exists between your ideal life and the life you're living now, look for ways to close the gap. Closing the values gap may or may not relate directly to your finances, but often money is an essential component of individual value systems.
The ironic thing about values is that as we make decisions that move us towards them, we tend to feel fear. This is good, as fear indicates progress. Healthy feelings of anxiety should be the beacon for you to follow as you work to close the values gap. We've all heard the saying, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." When it comes to aligning your money with values, follow your fears.
Accepting The Changing World Of Money
"It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not." - Thich Nhat Hanh
Money is in a constant state of flux. It flows in and out of our lives as steady as the rising and falling tides. The world's financial system is a massive machine of immense complexity designed to move people, goods, ideas, and capital at exponential speeds. It's in a constant state motion. Meanwhile, the markets move up and down, vast fortunes made and lost in a single day. Accepting that your financial life is part of this elegantly chaotic system is one of the keys to reducing your money worries. When we believe things to be permanent, this inevitably leads to anxiety, as nothing in the universe is stable, especially the lives of individuals. On the other hand, when we view the state of our finances as impermanent, our minds shift from a place of scarcity to abundance. We accept the inevitable changes to our financial life, as a condition being, and view these changes a doorway to new opportunities to increase our wealth or better protect the wealth we currently have.
Engaging A Financial Planner To Help Alleviate Money Stress
Holistic financial planners are in a unique position to understand the complexities of your financial life. They know money is a source of worry and is one of the reasons why you're engaging in a financial planning relationship in the first place. A financial planner can help you invest your money correctly, develop a budget and savings plan, organize your finances in one place, and come up with strategies to meet your financial goals. This assistance will go a long way to reducing your money worries.
If you find yourself wondering if you're on track with your finances, or if you'd like to learn more about how financial planning can help you, I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to reach out using this simple contact form.