This weekend, we put up our Christmas tree.
Since then, I hugged it and thanked it every day.
I thanked it for giving its life to light up my house and my life.
I thanked it for being so full and beautiful.
I thanked it for having strong branches that keep all of our silly ornaments without dropping them.
I thanked it for sparkling so beautifully under the weight of the lights and decorations – just for us.
I thanked it because, by its nature, it was selfless. Maybe not by choice, but the end result was the same – it fills my heart with joy every day as I work right next to it and get to take little peeks and long glances at it, daydreaming of flurries and battles in the snow.
My Christmas tree isn’t the only thing that gets thanks.
I thank my fridge for keeping my food cold and lasting longer.
I thank my comfy armchair for keeping me cozy and comfortable while I work.
I thank my kitties for giving me endless entertainment and love.
I thank my body for allowing me to do all of the things I’m doing. I thank my husband for supporting me with love, care, and tenderness every day.
I don’t take these things for granted, because I’ve learned that I’m unhappier when I do.
When I don’t take the time to think of all of the things I’ve been blessed with, I’m needy. I’m wasteful. I crave more luxuries, more stuff, more time, and when I get it, I still only want more.
This is most obvious when it comes to money.
When all I think of is that I don’t have enough money, that I need more, I am frantic and desperate. I’m stressed out. I’m worried. Everything I do to get that money feels slimy and fake.
MONEY = VALUE
She explains that money is fake (duh, you didn’t think your paper bills actually held any intrinsic value, did you?) and is only used as a universal way to exchange value.
The problem is that being focused on money puts you in a mindset that is completely incompatible with creating value.
The phrase “I need more money” comes from fear. The fear of being poor, the fear of not having enough, the fear of not getting enough for the work that you do. This fear puts you in survival mode, which triggers the fight-or-flight response.
Suppose there’s a sunny path that winds around some but eventually takes you to the top of the mountain you want to climb. From the bottom of the mountain, it looks like that path is going to take longer to get you to the top. It’s tempting to climb over the steep side of the mountain instead. It looks like that way will get you to the top faster.
By taking the winding road, you are having an overall better time and higher chances of reaching the top of the mountain. However, if all you can think of is getting to the top faster, you will be miserable. The only way you will enjoy the experience is if you focus on the process of walking along this beautiful path, taking in the scenery and going at a pace that feels right to you.
By taking the steep side of the mountain, you face a much higher risk of falling and having to start over, and might injure yourself. By the time you get to the top, you might be too exhausted to be able to appreciate and enjoy having reached the top.
The winding road represents a focus on offering value to the world. When all you think about is “how can I offer the most value” or “how can I help people the most”, you are operating from the love center of your brain, and are opening up your creativity and genius. Since you are creating value, you will eventually start making money (maybe more than you think) as long as you continue to maintain this mindset.
The steep slope represents a focus on making money. By focusing only on the outcome, you are bypassing the process that allows you to create it organically. Just like pesticides focus only on the desired outcome and end up having more unwanted side effects that create imbalances in our environment (like killing off bees), by focusing only on making money you are flipping the fight-or-flight switch on and precluding yourself from being able to access your full ability to create value. Any value you do create will be imbalanced and feel “off” or fake.
What if you’re already focused on making money? How do you switch?
The key to switching your mindset from money-focused to value-focused is gratitude.
Gratitude creates awareness of the abundance that is already in your life, and turns off the fight-or-flight switch. It also turns on the love switch, which puts you in a more generous and loving mood, perfect for expressing your creativity to offer real value to the world!
So go ahead and thank your Christmas tree, your food, your stove, your couch, your comfy bed and cozy house, and most importantly the people around you: your husband or wife, your children, your parents. I’ll wait.
After you’ve made your “gratitude tour”, come back and tell me: What is the first thing you will do to create more value?
Note: This post was inspired by Marie Forleo’s video from today “6 little money mindset shifts that pay off huge.” I had been mulling over these things for a long time but watching that video finally got my butt in gear. She gives some great advice so be sure to head over to watch it!