Can Meditation Make You Rich?
Sure, a regular meditation practice has been shown to improve overall well-being, but could it also improve your financial well-being? Consider this: concerns about financial decisions, paying bills, and the economy frequently top the lists on what worries people most. And this is not just for those nearing retirement.
A recent study found 70% of college students site money as their top worry. And considering that 68% of American’s aren’t saving anything in retirement plans, (according to the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy at the New School) this worry isn’t being followed-up with action.
From my years as a financial advisor I can say this … freaking out about money, your finances, and the economy is dangerous to your financial health. In the book Scarcity by researchers Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir, scarcity is defined as having less than you feel you need. They explain, “Scarcity directly reduces bandwidth—not a person’s inherent capacity, but how much of that capacity is currently available for use.”
Their research found that merely mentioning money challenges to people living below the poverty level hurt their cognitive performance even more than extreme sleep deprivation. This group’s IQ scores could actually temporarily drop by as much as 13 points when faced with scarcity concerns. Of course, being financially stressed doesn’t mean someone isn’t smart, but it can mean their ability to make good decisions at that point is greatly compromised. Conclusion? Financial worries can deprive you of the mental capacity to find your way out of your financial difficulties.
Here’s where meditation comes in—it’s a great way to neutralize that stress. But, you may ask, can meditation really help with financial worries? You bet it can! Not only does a regular practice of meditation help you to feel more relaxed and reduce your feelings of stress, but some types of meditation practices have been found to actually increase creative thinking and problem-solving abilities. Self-calming strategies are crucial to making sound financial decisions.
Have you ever had so many programs open on your computer that it freezes? This used to happen to me all the time. My computer guy, Scott, told me I was a “super-user.” That made me feel like a big deal for a second, but then I realized all it meant was that my computer wouldn’t operate efficiently until I did something about it. The short-term fix was to continually reboot the computer. This wasted time and drove me nuts. The better fix was either to stop trying to do so many things at once or to get a more powerful processor.
Sharpen Your Brain
Do you ever feel like a super-user of your own brain? As if you have too many thoughts, tasks, and concerns buzzing at the same time? Meditation is akin to getting a more powerful processor. Our minds can get so cluttered with constant chatter that we can’t hear the wisdom inside of us. Meditation helps to quiet the static noise so you can better tune in to hear insights and see opportunities.
It can feel quite normal to have a constant stream of thoughts floating through our minds—so normal that we don’t even realize we aren’t performing optimally. But after you have an opportunity to calm and quiet your mind—especially if you can develop a habit and do it on a regular basis—you’ll notice more mental clarity and more quiet moments between thoughts.
If you don’t meditate already, you might not even understand what you’re missing until you start doing it. I was driving through a nearby suburb and saw a man in a parking lot with what looked like an old bicycle attached to a round sharpening stone. It turned out he was sharpening knives. Intrigued by this, I immediately drove home to get my knife set that hadn’t been sharpened since I’d received it as a wedding gift eighteen years earlier.
The man sharpened them and told me I had a very nice set of knives but needed to take better care of them. I couldn’t believe how well they worked once they were sharpened. I had gotten so used to working with dull knives that I had begun to think I hated making dishes that required a lot of chopping. Once my knives were in good working condition, I found cooking prep much easier and more enjoyable. A regular practice of meditation is like sharpening your mental knives. You’ll feel more clarity, be more focused, and have more energy to easily handle financial and other challenges that come your way.
Take a Meditation Class
Commit to meditating for 10 days and see how you feel. There are many ways to meditate. Consider taking a class, downloading an app such as Headspace for guided meditations, or simply sit in a quiet place and put your attention on your breath.
Of course, you know how important it is to brush and floss your teeth. Well, think of meditation as part of your mental hygiene (a term coined by Edward G. Brown in his book "The Time Bandit Solution: Recovering Stolen Time You Never Knew You Had.) Giving as much attention to your mindset around money is as important (or maybe even more important) than making super savvy investments. Calming your mind is one terrific way to do this.