In her book ‘The Soul of Money’, Lynne Twist challenges us to re-examine our relationship with money and to consider looking at it within the context of our values. She believes that by doing that we can redefine the purpose and meaning of money and create opportunities for personal transformation in our lives.
The book in a nutshell
Twist reminds us that money was invented to facilitate the sharing of goods and services but somehow our relationship with it changed. We went from seeing money as a tool we created and controlled to making it the single most controlling force in our lives.
She makes the point:
‘Money has only the power that we assign to it, and we have assigned it immense power. Humans have done and will do terrible things in the name of money. They have killed for it, enslaved other people for it, and enslaved themselves to joyless lives in pursuit of it.’
She notes that money isn’t the problem but rather how we interact with it is.
‘Money itself isn’t the problem. Money itself isn’t bad or good. Money itself doesn’t have power or not have power rather it’s 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.’
A core idea of the book is scarcity and how it keeps us trapped. The author believes that scarcity is at the heart of our relationship with money and is a mindset that leads to many of the problems we see. With a scarcity mindset we operate from a state of fear which compels us to keep chasing for more, or we compromise on our values in an effort to ease the discomfort we feel around money.
Twist describes what she calls the three myths of scarcity:
There’s not enough
This myth has us believing that there’s a finite amount of everything and there just isn’t enough of anything to go around. Everyone can’t be satisfied and so as a result someone will be left out.
This first myth fuels the need to not be the one that is left out. Often we will go to extraordinary lengths to make sure that that doesn’t happen. Even doing things that we know are unethical or harmful to others. It fosters a me against them mentality and we’re out to make sure that we aren’t the ones left behind.
More is better.
In a logical response to the first myth, we try to fill the space left by there not being enough, by acquiring more and more. In essence, more of anything is better than what we have. This creates a culture of competition, acquisition and accumulation that only feeds the fear of not having enough.
The problem is it keeps us constantly focused on the next thing: the next dress, the nicer car, the bigger house so much so that we forget to enjoy and express gratitude for what we already have right now.
When we buy into the promise that more is better, we can never ever have enough.
We define ourselves by financial success, external achievements and material possessions and in turn judge others in the same way. Sadly we become attached to our possessions and, in a way, start to think that what we have is who we are
That’s just the way it is.
This myth keeps us trapped in and maintaining the status quo. We can’t beat the system so we join it. Yes, it’s not fair but there’s nothing we can do about it. The power of this myth is in the feeling of resignation it brings. Hopelessness and helplessness keep us toeing the line and as the author describes it, this becomes an excuse for not contributing any of our gifts or resources in making a difference in others’ lives.
So what is the solution?
As Twist puts it:
‘When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands.’
Sufficiency brings freedom and integrity, a life aligned with our values. We operate from a place of wholeness knowing that money and possessions don’t define us.
When we live in sufficiency we feel called to share what we have: money, time and energy. We can continue to earn, save, invest, and provide for ourselves and for our families, but our relationship with money is completely different.
Sufficiency isn’t based on how much money we have but what our relationship with that money is. It is a relationship where growth is redefined as recognition and appreciation for what we already have and not just the acquisition and accumulation of money or things.
This book is chock-full of interesting ideas and these two especially struck me:
What we appreciate appreciates.
The things that grow in our lives are the things we focus our attention on. If we take a look at what we spend our time on, they are the things that will grow in our lives.
Are our actions and where we focus our energy a true reflection of our values and those things that truly matter? Is our use of money aligned with those things or are we caught up in the lie of scarcity, driven to acquire more and more.
Money does not equal fulfilment.
‘Why do we associate money with fulfilment when evidence shows that the possession or lack of money does not translate to our level of happiness?’
In a world where so often we measure the value of others and are measured based on what we have and not who we intrinsically are, this book offered so much food for thought. Imagine a world where there was enough for everyone. Have you ever questioned your relationship with money? This book will change the way you look at money and what it means and is one of my favourite reads.