Money Money Money

By Steve Hart

For most of my life, I’ve had a fairly poor relationship with money. No matter how much I had, I always felt I had to be cheap, to get the best deal on everything, to spend very conservatively. I would never go on a date that required spending any money, and it took me really liking someone before I would ever spend money on them . I felt that it was a waste to spend money on other people, or even on myself unless I absolutely needed something. Going shopping, I bought the cheapest of everything, never treated myself to a vacation or even a massage. I didn’t even realize I had an issue with money, it was just the way that I was.

Then came a period of self-realization, sparked mostly by a girl that I fell in love with. At first, the spending was hard, I felt like my old cheap self was dying a little bit every time I bought something for her that I never would have bought in the past. At times, this was quite stressful, and may have even sabotaged the relationship had I not done some serious personal work to overcome. Thankfully, I was already in a place of self-study through my yoga practice and healing process that I was able to observe what was going on in myself. I realized at this time that I was living in a fear of lack. I grew up in a financially comfortable family, but once I became independent I developed a fear that I would never afford the lifestyle that I grew up with if I didn’t save every penny. I literally would feel my stomach churn if I thought I overpaid for something or wasted my money, even if it was something small that I could easily afford.

After realizing what was going on within me, I began redefining my relationship with money. My first step was to define what money really is, an exchange of energy. I use my energy to work, I receive money for my work, and I trade my money for someone else’s work to get an item or service. My second step was to understand the purpose of money. It exists to support us, to allow us to do what we want so we can buy food and shelter instead of having to farm and build it ourselves. It exists to make our life easier, not harder. It exists to be spent, not hoarded.

I worked on rewiring my brain to be grateful for my ability to spend, because it was allowing me a much more pleasant life. I started spending more, and feeling less stressed about it. Through this process, I realized something. While I understand the concept in business that you have to spend money to make money, I realized the same is true in our personal lives as long as the money we spend is an investment in ourselves.

Here’s an example. You work hard this month make an extra $200. You now have a few options of what to do with the money. You can waste it, you can invest it, or you can save it. If you decide to use the money to buy alcohol, drugs, or junk food, you are exchanging your energy for a product that will reduce your capacity to function. Your money is literally causing you to be less able to work effectively and make more money. You gained $200, but may lose $1000 in productivity.

Option 2- you invest in yourself. You can use this money to buy a yoga membership, healthy food, treat yourself to a massage, go to a seminar, or do something that will increase your ability to work. Your productivity will rise, you will function at a higher vibration, and you will make more money as a result. You spent $200, and used it to increase your own effectiveness and productivity, so next month you make an extra $500. Eventually you get a promotion, and a higher salary, or perhaps can afford to quit and start your own business. It really is a snowball effect that can start the moment you decide to invest in yourself.

Option 3- you save it. Saving is great, and important to do responsibly, but only if it is done with a positive intention. Saving to go to school, or buy a house, or have children, or for retirement, are all worthy causes because they are future investments in yourself. Saving to have more money, to see your bank account grow and feed the ego, or out of fear of living in lack can take a negative toll on your emotions. When you save in this way, you are subject to the fluctuations of money, feeling happy when you have more and frustrated when you have less, which can be very stressful.

What is interesting about money in today’s society is that we think that we own it, and if we spend it we are losing something. In actuality, you cannot own money. For most of us, money barely exists in a physical form, it is merely numbers on a computer screen that the bank tells us we have access to. We are nothing more than temporary holders of value. Every dollar we own came from somewhere else and will eventually go somewhere else. The choice we get to make every day is if that transfer of money is a net positive or net negative exchange for ourselves. Every time you invest in yourself you are increasing your capacity to provide value and therefore make more money. I’m not saying you can never buy a drink or have any fun, but that drink should be in addition to your yoga membership, not instead of it.

When my concept of money changed and I saw it for what it truly is, something amazing happened. First, I released a ton of stress that I was holding on to, or rather, that was holding on to me. This allowed me to operate with a clear head and tap into my unlimited creativity, increasing my effectiveness in the workplace. Second, I began to spend more, but with a higher intention. I invested in seminars to learn more, a safe car that can bring me to new places, kitesurfing gear to expand my limitations, trips to expand my mind, and gifts and meals to treat my friends and employees. My old self is rolling in his grave, thinking of all the waste, saying “that money should have been saved in case you need it later.” The result was magical, I started making more money in different ways than I ever expected because I started operating at a higher level. I was happier, healthier, and more in touch with reality than ever before, and the money came in as a byproduct of that process.

If you are reading this, and you have something on your mind that you are considering investing in, whether it be a vacation, or a yoga teacher training, or going back to school, ask yourself if this investment will make you better in the long run. If the answer is yes, but the money situation is scary, stand up tall and do it anyways. I promise it is worthwhile, but you won’t be able to see that until you make the leap.

By far the biggest investment I ever made was the opening of my own business. It was nothing short of terrifying at the time, but has evolved in the most beautiful and transformative experience I have ever had. I thank my younger self every day for taking this leap and allowing my dream to come true.

Riffs Yoga La Jolla