A Money Coach in Canada

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How much do you give to charity in any given year?

How do you compare to the average Canadian who gives?

How might it improve the way you handle money in general?

And find out about your brain on donations!  (not the same ring as the original slogan, but, whatev’s …)

 

I love digging into research for my CBC gigs — keeps me current plus I find out stuff I wasn’t necessarily looking for.

 

Photo Credit:  Mindful One

It took an app, of course, to get me to do it. God forbid I use cursive and a book, even if its a moleskine book, to note the pieces of my life for which I am grateful. It took an app and a challenge to mark up to 1000 items for which I am thankful (I’m at 236 FTR) because I didn’t believe in it, not really, that gratitude journals were worth the effort, the minuscule effort, to lift up my eyes, take note and *make* note of the this and thats which make my life, well, make it also wonderful in the midst of less-than-wonderful.

What we focus on grows, it’s said, and I’m not sure that’s true. It defies my logic (or perhaps signifies my lack of imagination?) to believe my thoughts, my shambling thoughts, have much direct influence on my outer world. But what I have become sure is true is this: As I increasingly orient towards the things that are good in my life – that which is true, that which is quality, that which brings life, that which brings contentment, that which brings delight, that which endures – this new app-enabled-praxis is generative of a gentle, permeating easiness with life, even the less than wonderful parts.

What is that worth?

This shouldn’t have to be said, really, what the elderly voice says, at about the 5 minute mark. It shouldn’t have to be said. But it does need to be said to me, and probably to you too. Our little busynesses, our self-absorbed attention devoted to our various hurts and holes in our hearts that we all carry, our blinkeredness –we need reminding. And then, reminded, we rediscover time, we feel a little more whole and our vision expands, if only our peripheral vision, and if only for a day.

BTW, I’m pretty certain the voice is that of Jean Vanier.

Your new car. Your new relationship. Your new Fleuvogs. Your amazing vacay. Your promotion.

If you’re like everyone else, cold, hard science says these things will bring you a boost in your well-being for a length of time between a few weeks to a few months, then it’s right back to however happy you felt (or didn’t) before these entered your life. (As a point of interest, a study in Germany found getting married provided a boost for 2 years on average, before the individuals reverted to their baseline experience of happiness). Why does this happen? We are hard-wired to adapt to, as in get used to new and good things in our life and take them for granted. Kinda sucks, but there you have it.

Want to get the most happiness for your buck?

A recent study gives two clear ways we can significantly slow down the adaptation process.

1. Active appreciation of the new item or experience. Appreciation is the psychological opposite of adaptation say the authors of the study. It amplifies the various good components of the new item thereby regenerating the feel good responses. It turns out those gratitude journals are probably extending your happiness and lowering your need to buy the next bright, shiny object.

2. Variations of the new item maintain the feel good responses as well. For example, new apps on your iPhone bring back its original sexiness and thrill. Or using your new car for different purposes – road trip, carpool, volunteering – will sustain your sense of pleasure in your new vehicle.

photo credit: hurricainemaine

It almost has a cult-like feel to it, but I don’t think it is one.

Maybe the fact that it feels a bit like one reflects how off-course our collective thinking has become. Sometimes we need to, nearly literally, re-wire our neural pathways. This is what Byron Katie helps folks do.

The rewiring ought to result in greater peace, energy and mental clarity – surely something we’d all do benefit from regarding our approach to our money!
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So here’s the pitch.

We can and should challenge each of our distressing thoughts about money (or anything else, for that matter) by asking the following 4 Questions:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4. Who would you be without that thought?

and the last challenge is to invert that thought and corroborate that inverted thought with examples.
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For example:

Thought: I might die a bag lady.

1. Is it true?
Well, of course, it might not happen. But it could. And that scares the hell out of me.

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
Uhhh… no.

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
I panic inside. I feel discouraged, hopeless and don’t even want to think about money

4. Who would you be without that thought?
Hmmm. I would feel a lot more serene. I would be more confident and optimistic about my finances, and feel better about paying attention to them. I would no longer engage in self-destructive financial habits. I might even learn to invest and start to build myself a nice little nest egg!

And the turnaround inverts and corroborates the thought:

I am not going to die a bag lady.
Corroboration: I have a job and I actually could live a bit more simply and start building a nest egg. | I have relatives who will leave me an inheritance. It isn’t much, but that will supplement my Old Age Security, and it could supplement my own savings quite nicely. | I am addiction-free and mental-illness free and generally healthy. That does not fit the profile of bag ladies!

The last bit, the turnaround, is designed to open our mind to new ways of thinking which align just as fully as our original thought. It may feel unreal, or unlikely, because we are so accustomed to one way of thinking that these new ones are hard to believe. But over time, our neural pathways should rewire and open up in ways that reduce our anxiety and enable us to relax more about money.

Katie’s site gives tons of free resources. Go play with your brain for a while!

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