Maturing away from our *financial means - what could I possibly be talking about!? Let’s see if I can explain… Generally, I am guessing, most of us understanding that our wellness and well-being do not centre around money. Or more precisely, how our wellness and well-being does not centre around how much money we have at our disposal through work or investments or inheritance. We have known this philosophically for several generations or maybe even since the beginning of time. The pandemic has brought this understanding into our bones, as we walked the meaning up our spine, through our throbbing hearts, past our welling tear ducts and embraced the full impact of this understanding against our mental constructs of what is truly important.
Once and for all, I do believe, humanity has a better grasp on our interconnectedness to our natural world and to each other. The trees have always known this. Resilience is a shared responsibility. It is only humans who have a tendency to neglect our wholeness in favour of a collection of singular parts, placed in columns that are added up to exact amounts. How unimportant these dollar procurements become when we must focus on washing our hands, putting on our masks or leaving a loved one at the door of the hospital emergency room… or worse. How insignificant these financial distractions become when we miss seeing and hugging our children and grandchildren and friends! Except, there is an exception - this exception is when our basic needs for housing, food and health care go unmet. Then, if there is not enough money, we can find ourselves in dire circumstances. This is the fear that drives those that already have enough to keep acquiring more and more and threatens the wellbeing of those that do not. And this is the rub.
If we are living a mindful life, how much is enough? Such a difficult question to answer! I have no specific sum for us. I am just pretty certain that it is most likely a LOT less than those who have more than enough believe that it is. We can look to nature for some help to figure this out. Science tells us, trees provide water and nutrients to other unrelated trees in need, not because of altruistic values, but because it is more efficient and improves the wellbeing of everyone in the ecosystem. So, when we have enough of whatever is needed, then it is in our own best interest to share… like vaccine, for instance. Hoarding vaccine between borders is obviously foolish. In fact, it is in our best interest to share even if we receive nothing but more vaccinated people in return. Now, let’s apply this to the rest of our lives…
Once we have enough to meet our basic needs for shelter, food, water, and love and belonging, as the poet Mary Oliver asks in her poem The Summer Day, - “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
The singer songwriter Leonard Cohen surmised from his rented hotel room “I do not want to work for pay. But I do want to get paid for my work.”
This is what I mean when I say we are about to mature away from our financial means. It is not that we will turn our back on the importance of meeting our needs financial. But with this kind of maturing, money has the potential to become more of a shared ingredient, along with a whole host of other ingredients we have at our disposal…. rather than become a central primary adult task to collect and manage… simply because it is more efficient and better for everyone (and the planet) if we only produce or procure as much as we need… with just a little extra to share with others from time to time who might be short.
But how can we determine our personal essential needs? We know these change during a lifetime and in different circumstances, many of which are beyond our control. So how do we discover what these needs are for today?
I do have a method I sometimes use. It is called “the five whys”. If I gently and with deep kindness ask myself “why” I think I need something and when I have my answer, I ask “why” again for at least five times in a row, I eventually spiral down to the core need I am trying to fulfill. Once I have this, then I can ask “is this the best way to fulfill this need?” And “what other way might also work that doesn’t require money or will more purposefully use my financial resources?”
This is about it. If you decide to try this I would love to hear how it works for you.
*Financial means is frequently defined as the standard used to determine if someone can afford to purchase or make payments on an assets and maintain that asset, such as the financial means to purchase a dwelling…. or maybe even a painting, speaking of more a purposeful use of financial resources. 😉