September 6, 2012

Does Your Relationship with Money Need a Makeover?

Here’s one more inspiring reason to practice Karma yoga: you’ll be happier.

That’s right. According to Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, authors of the forthcoming book, Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending, buying less for yourself and more for others is key to one’s happiness.

I know, you’re thinking, “How can that possibly be true? The Ralph Lauren cashmere sweater I’ve been eyeing would make me so happy.” Or, “I’d feel so fab in a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes.”

However, after embarking on a decade-long study about money and its relationship to happiness, the authors Dunn and Norton found that, interestingly, what we do with our money plays a principal role in how happy we are.

Truthfully, I wasn’t entirely surprised at their findings. After working as a financial planner for over 25 years, I’ve learned that it’s not about the money. It’s about our relationship with money. And like any other relationship, our relationship with money can be either toxic or healthy.

It’s my job, of course, to help my clients develop a healthy relationship with their money. That’s why at the beginning of 2012, I tied together my wealth management expertise with my passion—yoga—and founded Yogic Investing. Yogic Investing takes you and your money off the mat, expanding your yoga into your money life.

Unquestionably, money is complex. It acts as a medium of exchange and is our standard of measurement. Like a double-edged sword, it can represent opportunity as well as be used wisely or recklessly. Some argue that without money we would not have advanced civilization, spirituality or enlightenment.

There’s a popular story of three servants who were each given 10 talents (money) by their master. All of the servants eventually returned the talents, but two of the servants figured out how to create opportunity with them, and the master was pleased.

The lesson here: You should look at your money not only as a measure of self-worth, but also as a medium for opportunity, not just for you but for others, too.

Ty Warner, the Beanie Babies billionaire of Ty Inc., set the internet afire this summer when he opened his wallet (and his heart).  Lost in Santa Barbara, he stopped and asked a woman for directions. At the time, the woman was trying to raise money for a stem-cell treatment she needed. After getting directions, Ty cut her a $50 check and promised to be back with more. Days later, the woman received a $20,000 check in the mail. She wrote in her blog that she was “flooded with indescribable emotion.” But I can’t help thinking that Ty might be even happier.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that you go live like a Buddhist monk. I tell my clients that our giving, our charitable gifts should be planned just like we plan for our next yoga class, the week’s meals or retirement. Instead of focusing on how much we have, it’s just as important to think more carefully about what we can do with what we have. Maximizing our happiness is not entirely about maximizing our wealth.

Can we indulge a little less in ourselves and more in others?

It’s not just a key to happiness—it’s yoga.


Editor: Brianna Bemel


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