It was in this place, hiking this canyon and picnicking by this stream that I was overcome--to the point of tears stinging my eyes--with a feeling of limitless prosperity.
This feeling was not a brief flit through the mind or body--it was all-consuming, powerful and true. I felt it down to the marrow of my bones.
In a way I didn't know before, I now understand: it is moments like that that are the definition of wealth.
Now, it's true we spent money to get there, but that's not the kind of wealth I mean. I had a feeling, not quite this intense, but similar, just a week before in Zilker Park--which we had to spend almost no money to get to--just the price of a few mile drive--watching my son and daughter cavort on a wide expanse of green lawn in the copper light of the setting sun.
I have begun to feel wealthy and rich and prosperous--which, I will assert, is no different than being rich, wealthy or prosperous--with no change in my income level.
I think this has become possible in a few ways, which I will share with you now:
- My daily practice (for 1.5 years now) of 5 gratitudes a day
- My daily practice of setting an intention
- Spending the time I used to spend shopping in nature/parks/the outdoors
- While I'm outdoors, working really hard to limit my smartphone use, and to only use the camera (I find it helpful to place it on airplane mode so I'm not as tempted to check it)
- Turning around my feelings of lack and envy into feelings of prosperity and appreciation
- Practicing clarity around money by "counting" as described in The Prosperous Heart: Creating a Life of "Enough" by Julia Cameron
- No matter where I am, what my situation is, what the circumstances are, if I can practice gratitude for what is here, now, I am in a state of appreciation.
- Setting an intention allows me to also place myself in positive states, where I help to facilitate good feelings and energy for the tasks, joys, and challenges that face me in day-to-day life.
- Shopping for anything beyond the essentials is not only a waste of time and money, it also exacerbates feelings of lack and envy. Conversely, spending time in nature is restorative and plunges you deep into the abundance of the natural world. Have you ever thought about the fact that the only beings on the earth that use money are humans? (For more on this, read this fascinating interview about "The Man Who Quit Money".)
- Smartphones, while useful, are pitfalls of distraction. Just what exactly do I need to be distracted from, if I'm feeling lucky, appreciative and prosperous? If I'm present, I can deepen these feelings and discover new details and thoughts and feelings.
- I'd like to write a whole post on this, but I've decided that when I see something that someone else has that is beautiful or fine in some way, rather than sinking into feelings of longing or envy or wanting, instead I make an effort to smile and say, "good for them!" or "how lovely!" or something that appreciates the element that I find so attractive, and celebrates the fact that someone has that beauty or fineness in their lives. It is not up to me to judge whether or not they deserve it, or whether they have earned it...that's not my concern. I get to be excited by prosperity wherever I find it, and not just when I own something. And, as the brilliant Carrie Contey has taught me, "What you appreciate appreciates."
- So much of our anxiety around money comes from not really knowing how much we have, how much we get, or how much we spend. If you begin to consciously write down what comes in and what goes out, you can begin to lessen your anxiety and inhabit a place of greater trust and peace when it comes to the money part of prosperity. And, if you debt frequently, this can help you address that.
I know people who have lots of money, but do not have this experience. There's always a number that would make them feel better, more secure, more important. No amount--really--will change those feelings.
And, after all, as Tim Ferriss, author of the The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich
says, it's not the million dollars in the bank that people are really after--it's the way people assume those with millions in the bank feel and live.
There's also a way in which carping about what we lack or what other people have, or what we have that other people want to take is a shirking of responsibility, a way to play the victim. When we always say that we don't have "enough," we give up a lot of our power to others. It's a game where you're the loser and someone else is the winner, even though that's not how the world works. Focus on yourself and your sphere of influence. Save the world by saving yourself first.
Let me repeat: You can be prosperous and abundant and rich right this very second, if you appreciate what you already have--both the material and non-material--and you realize that you have enough. For those of us raised with messages and feelings of scarcity, this is powerful medicine. I know that I often asked my parents if we were poor, not even knowing really what that meant. I just knew what I heard--that we didn't have enough. This is hard to overcome, and why the practices I listed above are daily ones. The gratitude and prosperity muscle needs daily work to keep it strong.
I'll close by saying that I love living like this. I love looking at my children, my husband, my dog, the trees around me, the birds and frogs and earthworms and my amazing (totally normal, but still amazing!) refrigerator full of good food, my strong, healthy arms, my eyesight, my comfortable office chair, scotch tape, nicely bound books full of poetry... (you get the idea, I could go on!) and I think...wow! I am rich beyond my wildest imaginings. And if I only had my family and we were all healthy, I think I'd feel rich even then. And if I didn't have my health, I would have to do some serious work to appreciate what I did have--but I think I'd get there, so long as I survived.
It's a practice, but to live feeling wealthy and fortunate regardless of the number in my bank account is such a blessing.
I hope this post has given you some good ideas on how to increase your wealth and prosperity right now, in this moment that is all we really have.
Thanks for coming along on this journey with me, and let me know your thoughts in the comments. When was the last time you felt really prosperous?