The brain is a powerful piece of machinery churning out thoughts at an amazing rate. In a recently written article, Ben Hardy states, “In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article showing that the average person has between 12,000 and 60,000 thoughts per day.”
Let’s just pick a number somewhere in the middle to make our math easy. Let’s say you have an average of 32,000 thoughts while you’re awake for 16 hours each day. That’s about 2,000 thoughts per hour, 33 thoughts per minute or one new thought every two seconds!
And in talking about those 12,000 to 60,000 daily thoughts, Hardy goes on to say, “Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.”
You can think of these thought patterns like the way people traveled before roads were built. Eventually, the best route between towns was found and either people or horses wore a well-marked and easy to follow trail through the forest.
Unfortunately, negative thoughts function much the same. These thousands of repeated, negative thoughts each day burn easy to follow “thought trails” through your brain and it becomes automatic to fall into these patterns each day.
I will talk to you about HOW to change your thoughts in a future article. This article focuses on the first step, which is identifying specific money thoughts to recognize and change. Identifying and changing these thoughts can be one of the most important decisions of your life because your thoughts around money are the single, biggest driving factor that determines whether you will have abundant wealth, barely scrape by, or be somewhere in between.
Once you identify the thoughts that keep you in a scarcity mindset, you can start the process of wearing more positive money-based “thought trails” in your mind that can help propel you to financial success.
Negative Thought #1 – Having Money is Bad
We’ve all heard expressions like, “Money is the root of all evil.” So it’s no wonder that people often connect having money with being a bad, greedy person. While it is true that many kind and generous historical figures did not have much money, it can also be said that there are many kind and loving people who have accumulated significant wealth.
Moving from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset and beginning the process of accumulating wealth dramatically increases your ability to do good in this world. You can be more generous not only with your money, but also with your time and with the thoughts you share with others to help them succeed as well.
Take for example, Oprah Winfrey, who grew up in a poor household in Mississippi and endured years of sexual abuse. She rose above these circumstances to accumulate great wealth and has donated hundreds of millions of dollars to The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, among many other causes.
Wealthy people do not necessarily have to be great philanthropists to be making meaningful contributions to society. Author Michael Singer is a fantastic example of this. His net worth is estimated at $6 million and his books The Surrender Experiment and The Untethered Soul have both had a profound impact on my personal and spiritual growth.
Negative Thought #2 – Money is Scarce
It is also easy to get trapped into thinking that money is a scarce, fixed commodity and assuming, “If I make more money, I must be taking it from someone else.” This is perhaps best captured in the expression, “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer.”
Unfortunately there are many examples throughout history of certain groups of people exploiting others for financial gain; however, this simply isn’t true for the population as a whole.
Let’s look at some historical data. According to this article from The Balance, between 1968-2018, real Gross Domestic Product in the United States increased from $4.8 trillion to $18.7 trillion.
And is all of this money going into the pockets of greedy corporate executives or hedge fund managers? Sadly, more of it does sometimes go to people who take advantage of others to make money. However, in the majority of cases among everyday people, it is because people are shifting their thoughts to be able to accumulate more wealth.
This is true across ALL income groups. According to this article, over the last 50 years, each bracket of earners has seen significant increases in their household incomes. These percentages are real, after-inflation increases:
|HOUSEHOLD INCOME BRACKET||PERCENTAGE INCREASE (1968-2018)|
|Highest 20% of Earners||+99.1%|
|2nd Highest 20% of Earners||+55.6%|
|2nd Lowest 20% of Earners||+27.6%|
|Lowest 20% of Earners||+30.6%|
Again, we know that some of the increases among the highest earners are the result of greed and exploitation; however, we should not think less of someone who accumulates wealth by honest means and in turn, is generous with their wealth, their time and their knowledge to help others to succeed.
If all wealthy people were busy all the time taking money from others, we would not have seen charitable giving increase in the US by 158% between 1973-2013, nor would we have seen the number of people worldwide living in extreme poverty decrease by a staggering 1.1 billion people since 1990.
Negative Thought #3 – I Need to Follow the Rules to Make Money
A third money thought to consider setting aside is the belief that you need to follow a certain set of rules to make money, even if it makes you miserable in the process. For me, growing up in the 1980’s, the standard playbook was:
- Go to school
- Go to college
- Get a “good” job, which implies that only jobs that require a college degree are “good.”
- Hang onto this good job for dear life (even if you hate it) to make sure you can pay the bills, get decent medical care and save for retirement.
There are over 7 billion souls on this planet and there is no “one size fits all” approach to making money.
Be open to more expansive thinking in this area.
For some people, the standard playbook outlined above makes absolute sense and working in a field requiring a college degree with a steady income and good benefits allows them to live exactly the life they want to lead.
For others, it may make sense to open your own business or become a skilled craftsperson or any number of other things that definitely do not require a college degree to achieve success.
And if, like many people, you’re miserable in your current job and don’t know how you’re meant to make money, take some steps back, ask yourself what gives your life meaning and then craft your career around that.
These are just a few of the money thoughts that may be holding you back from having both the money and the life you want. For the next few weeks, pay attention to your money thoughts. Keep those that are serving you well and look for a future article on how to change the ones that are getting in the way.