Sufficiency, Sustainability and Generosity

Published in Womeninc, February 2007

by Diana Gabriel

We are deep into long days of winter when time appears to slow down a bit and we have time to reflect. By now I hope that each of you has taken some time to set your vision or intentions for the New Year. If not, consider taking that time, and including some of the observations we’ll discuss here in your intentions.

I want to share an experience I had that I found very powerful and thought- provoking. I recently had the honor and privilege of hearing Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, speak at the International Coaches Conference. Because I found her message so powerful, this column will include pieces of her work, which are posted on her web site, at www.soulofmoney.org.

Lynne spoke about how we have adopted a scarcity mentality and habitual way of describing our day-to-day existence. Many of us begin our day with comments such as: we’re not getting enough sleep, not having enough time, we don’t have enough vacation or benefits, things are not good enough, we haven’t had enough sales, our boss or co-workers do not do enough or provide enough… and on and on. Our focus and language is on scarcity, and this builds a deficit relationship between the intention of who we want to be and the concerns we speak of.

We act as if there never seems to be enough money no matter how much we accumulate. We use a lot of time thinking, talking about and worrying about money. We behave as if there is not enough to go around. We act as if more is better. We act as if more things will bring us happiness. We behave as if money is more important that our life values. Money itself has no more meaning that what we give it. We also believe that it is ‘just the way it is’ and we do not have a choice in our relationship to money, abundance or scarcity thinking and/or behave.

Lynne founded the Soul of Money Institute to express her commitment to supporting and empowering people in finding peace and sufficiency in their relationship with money and the money culture. Her web site lists the principles the organization’s work is based on:

Prosperity flows from sufficiency-the recognition of enough.
Each individual makes a difference.
What we appreciate appreciates.
Collaboration generates prosperity.
Our legacy is what we live-not what we leave.
Gratefulness is the heart of generosity.
Global citizenship is the natural outcome of an awakening consciousness.

I believe that adopting and living by some or all of these principles can be a means for each of us to be in greater alignment with our values, purpose and in our relationships. My clients have expressed experiencing a sense of freedom and ease in making decisions when they find the means to live in alignment with who and what they are meant to be in the world. These principles are yet another tool, or suggestion, to help guide those choices.

Each of us experiences a lifelong tug-of-war between our money interests and the calling of our soul. When we’re in the domain of soul, we act with integrity. We are thoughtful and generous, allowing, courageous, and committed…. We have the capacity to be moved, and generosity is natural. We are trustworthy and trusting of others, and our self-expression flourishes. We feel at peace within ourselves and confident that we are an integral part of a larger, more universal experience, something greater than ourselves.

When we enter the domain of money, there often seems to be a disconnect from the soulful person we have known ourselves to be. It is as if we are suddenly transported to a different playing field where all the rules have changed. In the grip of money … [w]e become smaller. We scramble or race to “get what’s ours.” We often grow selfish, greedy, petty, fearful, or controlling, or sometimes confused, conflicted or guilty. We see ourselves as winners or losers, powerful or helpless, and we let those labels deeply define us in ways that are inaccurate, as if financial wealth and control indicate innate superiority, and lack of them suggests a lack of worth or basic human potential. Visions of possibility dissolve. We become wary and mistrusting, protective of our little piece, or helpless and hopeless. We sometimes feel driven to behave in ways inconsistent with our core values, and unable to act differently.

What happens when we behave in ways that are inconsistent with our core values? We all know this from experience in other areas of our lives. Applying it to money, it has the same result of pushing us out of our ability to feel whole and at peace. But money, itself, isn’t the problem. As Lynne writes: “Money itself isn’t bad or good. Money itself doesn’t have power or not have power. It is our interpretation of money, our interaction with it, where the real mischief is and where we find the real opportunity for self-discovery and personal transformation.”

I invite each of you to ponder your relationship to abundance and/or scarcity and make a commitment to making one change in your habits every month. You might address changes in your daily language, in your saving habits, in your giving habits, in what you horde, in your relationship to the greater world’s needs. Think of these changes as tweaking your relationship with money and abundance – a place where you bring your strengths and skills, your highest aspirations, and your deepest and most profound qualities. I wish you the pleasure of new discovery with this task, and peace and abundance in your life.
Resources include:

The Soul of Money: Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Life by Lynne Twist with Teresa Barker
www.soulofmoney.org

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