Q. ‘Mr Bashful, money provides me with financial security, and that feeling of safety contributes to my core happiness.’
‘True financial security is knowing that you could handle having no money.’
A quote from Susan Jeffers’ book, ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’.
When some people lose money it feels like they’re being diminished, being drained. They’re frightened that if the amount of money they have drops below a certain threshold their life will begin to fall apart. So they try hard to keep above that threshold, and the further above the threshold they are, the safer they feel. Yet they still feel vulnerable. They worry about how secure their investments are, or how much they would lose in a divorce, or whether or not they’ll be sued. The bars on their windows, the jagged glass along their fences, and the cameras at the doorbell, are metaphors for the way they view the world. They lack security. Some people have lost so much money that they have only a few million dollars left, and have killed themselves. Their fear of being poor was so strong.
But it’s not just rich people; there are people with no money who can’t handle being poor. So their life falls apart – they end up living in a car or robbing a bank.
Financial security does not depend on how much money you have, or on how little. It depends on whether or not you feel you could handle having no money. Remember, core happiness comes from feeling you can handle a situation, not from arming yourself against it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you get rid of your money, or that it’s bad to be rich, but don’t assume wealth will give you financial security. It won’t. Only when you feel you could handle having no money will you feel secure.
Click here for the enjoyable Sandcastle story with this theme in mind.
A journalist, Katie Walsh, reported that Mr Cuff, who was on a panel of philanthropists, said he knew a couple with hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. When Mr Cuff suggested to the couple that they might give some of their money away, they reportedly replied, “we’re worried if we give now we won’t have enough when we really need it.’
Australian Financial Review, 21 June, 2012.
Q. ‘Are you saying that if I am experiencing financial stress, having trouble paying bills and the like, I can still be happy?’
Remember the two types of happiness? Yes, understandably you will feel stressed and anxious being in financial distress. That’s only natural. That’s that first type of happiness/unhappiness. You wouldn’t be happy with a toothache either, or if your pet died. But core happiness is about how you feel when nothing in particular is happening, when you’re not experiencing a toothache, or when you’re not under financial stress. And the best way to return to your core happiness is to feel that whatever happens, you’ll handle it. In other words, you will still feel anxious being unable to pay bills, but if you feel you could handle having no money, you will cope much better, and return to your core happiness sooner.
Q. ‘I have three kids to educate. I wouldn’t feel at all comfortable having no money.’
Nevertheless, if you felt you could handle not being able to afford your kids’ education then you would feel comfortable. Don’t forget, I’m not suggesting you should give away your money, or stop earning it. Sure, educate your kids, but also consider looking at what you would do if you couldn’t educate them. Would their lives really be ruined? Or could you think of another way to help them grow? Could you, if need be, handle it?
Q. ‘My father doesn’t seem to care that he has no money, and doesn’t care if I don’t get educated. Does that mean he has financial security?’
Q. ‘So, how do I get to feel that I could handle having no money?’
Rough it for a while. Go camping in a tent without appliances; just take food and water. When you finally come to the realisation that, ‘This is awful, but if I were forced to live this way for the rest of my life, I suppose I could handle it. I’d hate it, but I wouldn’t go crazy, I’d cope.’ At that point you could get into your Lamborghini and drive home, financially secure.
The trouble with this idea is, of course, that many of us could not force ourselves to rough it in the first place.
‘Have you done it, Mr Bashful?’
I was lucky. As a child I spent every school holiday in a log cabin in East Gippsland. It had no electricity, just an open fireplace and tank water. I still visit that cabin for a fortnight every two years. I enjoy it. I would not want to live there permanently, but I know that if I had to live there permanently, I could. That knowledge gives me a feeling of security no amount of money could.
Here is an interesting site: “Living Without Money“.
Q. ‘But Mr Bashful, I want to be rich because people respect wealth.’