Sometimes it seems like all we hear these days is talk of the tough economy. I actually conducted a little sociological experiment this weekend, and counted up how many times I heard people refer to the economy, and therefore current times in general, in a negative way. I got 43 hits, even though I stayed home quite a bit.

There is, of course, some objective measurable truth to all of this depressing talk. If you own a house, it’s probably worth considerably less than it was five years ago. If you own a business, you may be making less money than you were, and you may have even been faced with the difficult decision of laying off some of your employees. If you’re an investor in the stock market, you may have seen your portfolio go down in value.

But not everybody these days is having a terrible time. I’ve conducted another little amateur sociological experiment over the last several weeks. I asked a lot of my colleagues: writers, teachers, seminar leaders, how they would evaluate their year so far, not just financially, but according to a broader spectrum of measurement. How are your relationships? How’s your creativity? How’s your health? How much are you living your deepest vision? I’m a member of two extraordinary mens’ groups, one where I live in Nevada City, and another that I travel to in Marin County, and I also asked this question at the recent meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council. More than half the people I asked told me that 2010 was proving to be their best year ever, myself included.

I hear people ask a lot on the blogosphere and in the media, “How long is this recession going to last? When are we going to go back to where we were?” Well, here’s a shocking question for you now. What if we never, ever, ever go back to where we were?  What if the old game is now coming to an end, and a whole different way of relating with each other financially and energetically is emerging? (more…)

Hands framing

It has become a cliche these days to hear sayings like “in this economic climate,” or “in these difficult times.”  And of course it becomes a self-perpetuating prophecy.  Are these statements the whole truth about today’s economic climate?  First, people selling gizmos of various kinds, people who run restaurants, and folks in service industries, will tell you that customers are spending less money.  Why?  Because they are making less money.  Why are they making less money?  Because their customers are spending less money.  Why is all this happening?  Because of difficult economic times!  It is somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The more we believe it, the more it becomes true.  The other thing that is true about these times is that it’s not longer so easy to make money from having money.  Back in the 90’s you could buy a house for $200,000 and, if you played your cards right, you could put 5% down ($10,000).  If the house went up 50% in value (which many houses did over just a few years), it then became worth $300,000.  You just made $100,000 on an investment of $5,000.  That is a 2000% profit.

The same thing could be done at that time in the stock market, or just lending money to start-up businesses.  Why?  Because everybody had the opposite belief as we have now.  It was boom time!  People were using worlds like “great opportunities” and “leverage.”  Everybody believed that story together, and it became another self-fulfilling prophecy.
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mountain topWhenever a group of people get together and become more honest with each other, one of the first thing to happen is that they realize how much we all want the same thing.  It happens in marriage guidance counseling, we come to the recognition that we both want love, we both want to be seen and acknowledged.  It happens in any kind of business intervention: we come together as a team and realize we all want and need the business to succeed, we want the workplace to be inspiring and relaxed.  Ultimately it happens politically, when the leaders of nations recognize that they are more likely to get their own needs met when they can also recognize the need of the other.

The greatest area of split and misunderstanding, which I discover among my friends and other writers and teachers is the split between the longing of the spirit and material desire.  To paint the picture in broad strokes, I am aware of two categories of people I know.  On one hand, I’ve spend a lot of my life in “spiritual circles.”  I lived with Poonjaji in India, I’ve lived in community in other parts of my life.  When we make our home in this camp life is about liberation.  We mediate.  We do Yoga.  We chant.  We disassemble the structures in the mind because we have fallen in love with a deep sense of spaciousness and peace.  When you live exclusively in this camp the desire for money becomes a hinderance to be avoided, not a goal to be pursued.  Relationships are okay-ish, as long as they don’t get too co-dependent.  Frequently, our relationship with our parents is something to be “completed” and “resolved” rather than celebrated.  When you live in this camp, wanting to make it in the world is the greatest symptom of ego-entrapment.

But there is also another camp, where I equally enjoy setting up my tent from time to time.  This camp is much better decorated, has better food, and everyone has an i-phone.  In this camp the emphasis is on worldly success of every kind.  Making money is a good thing.  So is having great relationships, great sex, better health and, in fact, having better anything is good.  When you hang out a while in this camp and look back to the other side, the spiritual people look like a bunch of losers. Meditating on their navels and letting go of attachments, you can see from here that they can’t pay the rent, their relationships are often messy, and they often have health problems to boot.

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Jack_Canfield[1]Arjuna dialogs with Success Coach Jack Canfield

Arjuna:    Jack, you are recognized as a great authority on success.  In the last months, with changes in the economy, many people are re-evaluating what success is all about. First of all, it’s more difficult these days to make money and accumulate a lot of stuff because the economy is not so supportive. Second thing is that becoming extremely wealthy has become less fashionable with the collapse of the banking industry. I wonder if you have felt called to reevaluate what success is all about, with the changes in our economy?

Jack:    I think with the changes in the economy, the recession, the Wall Street banking crisis, mortgage crisis and international meltdown in the markets, many people have lost a lot of money.  I’ve had friends that lost their entire savings with Bernie Madoff and other people that had other foundations and sources of income that dried up.

Therefore, they have to re-evaluate what success means to them and what most people are finding out is, and I’m looking at this in my own life as well, that success isn’t just what you accumulate, not just the amount of money you have or the toys you’re able to buy, but true success is having time freedom, emotional freedom, the freedom to pursue your own spiritual and emotional growth.

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