Have you ever felt that in spite of having many accomplishments under your belt—and years of career development, education and training—you are you still wondering why you haven’t been able to access the financial freedom you sense would allow you to truly flourish and thrive in your life?
If so, this is not your fault at all. You’re simply like millions of others who are living under the weight of three culturally ingrained myths about money and success that have been drilled into us throughout our entire lives.
These myths get reinforced by our own behavior and by almost everything that happens around us in our modern world.
These three toxic myths severely limit you, keeping you pathologically committed to both wanting far more than you probably need and being constantly dissatisfied with what you already have.
Myth 1: “There’s not enough to go around.”
This myth is an unconscious, unexamined assumption created by our monetized consumer culture — a culture that pushes a constant barrage of messages at us daily.
These messages tell you there’s not enough for everyone, so someone will undoubtedly be left out, and it could be you. They tell us that you’re not enough as you are and will need the latest products, pills and training in order to measure up.
If you pay attention, I bet you’ll see this myth playing out in many of the professional and personal interactions you have throughout your day.
And the worst of it is that this unconscious, unexamined way of seeing the world is kind of like wearing contact lenses that filter out critical parts of what is right in front of you before you even get a chance to see it for what it really is, so that you believe the filtered image is the truth.
And because this filter is created by our entire culture, we are all looking through it.
Even billionaires are trapped in this belief that they need more, and it shows up so obviously in the way many of them behave.
The vast majority of us, regardless of country, politics or economic status, wake up in the morning and think, “I didn’t get enough sleep.” It’s an automatic-pilot response when we look through the lens of “there’s not enough.” And then, when we actually look at the clock, our next thought is “there won’t be enough time in the day to do all the things we need to do,” and we are deflated even further.
Then, when we go to get dressed, we think we don’t have enough to wear. We don’t have the trendiest fashions or enough clean options because we didn’t have time to do the laundry—and the deflation continues.
There’s not enough time to eat a healthy breakfast or to meditate or to connect with our spouse or the kids (or even get the latter to school on time!). And then there’s not enough time to be prepared for the first meeting, conference call or conversation. People (friends and colleagues both) then go on to talking about what they didn’t get done yesterday and don’t have the time or resources to get done today.
And the “not enoughs” just continue from there until we go to sleep each night. It’s an ongoing cycle.
This core belief, this myth that “there’s not enough to go around,” means that some will be left out. It basically forces us into a hostile and fearful place where our primary goal is to make sure that we, and the people we care most about, are not among those who are left with nothing.
We don’t feel good about the people who are left out, yet we also don’t want to be one of them. At a certain point, it comes down to us or them, and of course we have to look out for ourselves first.
Myth 2: “More is better.”
The first myth breeds the second toxic myth: “More is better.”
We want more money, more sex, more shoes, more clothes, more cars, more vacations, more market share, more hours in the day.
More, more, more, more, more.
This belief that more is better is also an unconscious, unexamined mindset that is a vicious trap. If you take an inventory of what’s in your closets, your dresser drawers, your basement, the trunk of your car, your storage unit, etc., I bet you’ll find a lot of things you’ve barely, if ever, used or worn.
And as further proof, I’ll bet that more than once in your life, you’ve bought something, thinking you needed it, only to discover later that you already had it somewhere out of sight and mind in your house or apartment.
It’s an epidemic problem in our culture, and it happens to almost everyone.
The “more is better” mantra sends the message that you’ve got to have more of everything to be okay—even when you don’t need it, and even when you don’t really want it!
The reason for this is that the intensity and relentlessness of modern marketing techniques is based on extensive psychological research that has mapped out how people of every demographic respond to almost everything, basically reducing us to buttons that can be pushed to get the desired response—which is often to buy more.
Our whole culture actually demands that we want more all the time, and we’re even made to feel bad if we aren’t buying everything in sight, as though it is putting someone somewhere out of a job.
So whether we can afford it or not, we are made to crave things and to accumulate them for their own sake. In fact, one of the biggest booming businesses in the world is the business of storage.
We have millions of homeless people in the United States, but we’re not building houses for them; we’re building storage units for the stuff the people who have houses and apartments don’t have room for. I know it sounds crazy when it’s put in those terms, but just knowing it’s crazy doesn’t stop it from happening—even to you. It’s simply another example of a culture that is way out of control. As we fill storage units and landfills, we simultaneously destroy our own environment to manufacture more things and to dispose of the things we manufacture.
It’s like an illness, and I promise there’s a way to cure it, but first I’d like to tell you about the third toxic myth.
Myth 3: “That’s just the way it is.”
The third toxic myth is this: “That’s just the way it is.” This is the unconscious, unexamined belief that the way things are—that there’s not enough and more is better—is the way things have always been and will always be, and there’s nothing we can do to change it.
And we don’t even question it.
We resign ourselves and give into it, further compounding the problem. We’re convinced there’s no way to make a difference anyway, which leaves us feeling hopeless, depressed and in despair until we simply succumb even further to the seduction of our whole consumer society.
These three myths cause us to live in a way that is inconsistent with our own humanity, our own natural inclination to want to slow down, enjoy our lives, and do what we can to help our fellow human beings be able to enjoy their lives, too.
There is a way to release yourself from the grip of these myths and live without the weight of them on your every waking moment—a way to live deeply and compassionately connected to others in a state of what I call “True Prosperity.”
Once you know the specific steps you can take to unhook yourself from the consumerism and the tangled web the three toxic myths create, you can completely transform your life and your experience of the world.
Once you are able to move beyond the reach of those myths, you’ll be free to step into the possibility of a wonderful, joyful life of sustainable wealth and True Prosperity—and you’ll be right where you truly want to be.