The jury is out, financial worry (and stress) is the number one cause of stress for most of us in the developed world.
A new survey conducted by the American Physiological association (APA) puts financial worry as the leading cause of worry and stress for Americans.
A recent survey conducted in Australia placed financial worry as the leading cause of stress for middle aged men.
If you google (survey and money/ stress or financial worry) you will see a trend. Survey after survey puts financial stress at the top of the list in most developed countries.
Do not think you have to be broke to be on this list as a large majority of the survey applicants earned over $100000 per year.
This financial worry and stress has an incredible negative effect not just on an individuals and families but on our society as a whole.
Survey after survey makes it abundantly clear becoming rich will not stop you worrying!
More money did not stop the worry. While the type of worry may change (not worrying about paying the phone bill but worrying about losing millions or being sued) the stress still remains.
Stop thinking becoming Rich will solve all of your worries because it will not!
So if more money does not ease the worry what does?
Worry is not out there!
Please read the above phrase again as it is vitally important you understand this important concept.
Worry only exists in your mind, it doesn’t exist in the outside world or in any reality expect for your thoughts. Danger and unpredictable events exist in the real world but not worry.
Worry is the dark side of the imagination. Worry manifests itself with millions of what ifs !
What if I go broke?
What if I lose my business?
What if I lose my house?
What if I lose my family?
All these what ifs create a worst case scenario in your mind.
Worry robs you of your present moment!
The saddest thing I believe about worry is that it robs you of all the blessings that surround you daily.
How many times have you been worrying about your finances when you are sharing precious time with loved ones? If you’re honest with yourself it is like you are actually not there with them at all.
You’re so lost in your own thoughts and worry that any meaningful connection with any individual is impossible.
It is not all your fault!
It’s time to let you off the hook a bit, it is not all your fault!
The sad reality is our economic system is meant to support human life, however we now have human activity supporting the economic system.
The oil of this economic system is debt and consumption. Without debt or consumption the system does not work.
The main financial pressures most of us face presently are
– Low wages that do not keep pace with inflation
– High rent or mortgage costs that consume a large component of our income
– High costs of basic utilities and necessities such as power, rates and food.
– High taxes including personal income tax and GST in many cases.
– High levels of personal debt (usually to service cars and other consumer goods)
If you are on a moderate income it is no wonder you are under financial stress.
If you’re working hard and your income and expenses are similar and there is no room for a buffer then of course this will cause some form of worry or stress.
Learn to eliminate worry before you tackle the problem!
Not worrying does not mean not acting. The fact that so many of us worry about money means there is fundamentally something very wrong with our economic and social model.
Worry is in many ways a symptom of our externally reality. If the outside world is pushing us around financially then yes worry finds it easier to enter our minds.
The irony is more money will not remove worry unless we learn firstly to eliminate worry from our mind.
Here are some very simple ways to eliminate worry in a short amount of time.
– Don’t talk about how tough life is going to anyone including yourself
– Write a list of all the things in your life that you’re grateful for
– Create a financial summary and budget of where you are and where you would like to be.
– Learn to meditate daily (if you learn to quieten your mind of thought, you destroy worry!)
– Exercise and spend time in nature
– Put a plan in place to reduce your debt and increase your income
– Google “Jesus and worry” read all the quotes
– Google “Lao Tzu and worry” read all the quotes
– Simplify your life by not using debt anymore and spending less.
– Pray to God daily
It will be a lot harder to improve your financial reality if you are still worrying.
Other than the health benefits of learning to control your worry the main benefit for learning to reduce worry even when your external world is far from perfect is your increased effectiveness in making a change.
It is very hard to make any positive change to your life if you’re still worrying.
The irony is it takes a calm spontaneous mind free from worry to get out you out of the financial mess you’re in presently.
Worry tends to stop us from acting and finding creative solutions to help us escape the troubles we are experiencing.
Creativity and Worry are enemies!
I have learnt this time and time again. When I worry I stop creating. It is almost impossible to have creative insight or create anything of value if you are worrying and stressed.
Towards the end if my second year in business I read a detailed report by the bureau of meteorology that the months ahead could we the wettest we have had for a very long time.
I owned two flying schools at the time and was worried that if we had more than five weeks of rain I would go out of business as my reserves at the time where quite low.
I worried about what I was going to do then it dawned on me that worrying isn’t actually achieving anything.
I also realised that the only way to get through the worst case scenario was to create another income stream.
I stopped worrying and spent what little money I had creating a learn to fly DVD series. I filmed and edited the DVD, s then released them as a Christmas special just in time for the holiday season.
Just after Christmas the Sunshine Coast where I live experienced the longest prolonged wet period in over 100 years. We had seven weeks of continuous rain.
Had I not made and sold the DVDs I would have gone out of business.
I could not have made these DVD, s had my thoughts been filled with worry.
Faith in God and action gets best results.
I would have found it very hard to get through my stressful financial times had I not had any belief in God. I know that whatever happens God is by my side guiding me in times of trouble.
You do not have to go through this alone. God wants to support you and work through you if you allow him.
There are so many quotes in the Bible about worry because worry stops you connecting from God and secondly stops God working through you to help you find a solution to help you get out of your current financial situation.
Like an animal on the road frozen in fear from the oncoming headlights, worry freezes our capacity to act and make a positive change to our life.
Take responsibility and do what needs to be done!
How many family and friends do you know who worry and complain about their financial situation and do nothing about it.
The famous quite by Albert Einstein that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result ” This sums up a lot of individuals including myself at times who complain about a situation and do nothing different to change it.
If you’re not earning enough look for another job or learn how to create another income stream. If you have too much debt, find out how to reduce it quickly or consolidate the debt.
Action and creativity with faith in God will win every time. You will not be effective if your thoughts are filled with fear and worry.
Letting go of attachment!
When we accept whatever may happen to us we are practicing non attachment. Fear and worry usually involve attachment to a person (including yourself) place or thing. The worry and fear is usually based on loss.
Financial worry is based on losing all your money, your possessions or your lifestyle. As most individuals are attached to their possessions or lifestyle (see my blog on do we need an ego!) any threat to losing this will lead to worry and fear.
The other issue is pride, we want the world to know we are successful, the thought of our friends, family and peers discovering we have failed financially can add to the fear and worry we experience.
Failure is a natural part of life!
Why do fear financial failure so much. We can fail a sport, a relationships but when it comes to financial failure society, friends and family can be very harsh.
I think another big reason is because the law does not go easy on anyone who fails financially.
I know individuals who went bankrupt and it was not a pleasant experience for them. The reason it is not pleasant is because the law and society puts so much emphasis on protecting capital.
I have a friend who helps individuals raise money for new start-up companies. He often goes to America to raise funds because Americans have a much better view of failure than Australians.
They realise that out of every ten new start up investments, five will plateau, four will fail and one will be a winner. Failure is just the price of success.
If you can view failure as an inevitable positive aspect of life that has important lessons to teach you then there really is no real need to fear it.
You cannot take it with you!
We have all heard this saying but how many of us actually really understand these words.
When you depart this world you will not be able to take any of your finances with you.
You’re last few hours on this Earth you will not be worrying about how much money you have left or how much you did not make.
If you cannot take it with you then why stress about something that has no eternal value?
I like to think of money as a by-product of what I do and not the main course.
If you fear running out of money when you’re broke the fear will only increase when you’re rich!
Many individuals believe that making more money will eliminate their worry.
I can assure you from the many individuals I meet who have a lot of money this is not always the case.
In fact more money can actually make some individuals worry more. Once they get attached to the perceived security money can buy (I said perceived) the thought of losing the money is a far greater concern than when they had no money.
As they have more to lose they have more to worry about.
Buckminster Fuller and money.
As you may or may not know one of my all-time favourite human beings to walk this Earth was Buckminster Fuller. Buckminster was an inventor, scientist, and philosopher.
He believed in working for all humanity with all of his available time and energy. He also believed in only doing work that mattered and that he was passionate about.
He also learnt to never worry about money or the lack of money as he knew God will always provide.
Even if his current situation looked dismal. He did not believe in having a savings account either.
Incredibly before he died he released his bank statements and during his forty years of travelling the globe, lecturing and writing books he was constantly on the verge of bankruptcy.
However the funds would magically always appear just in time. He knew never to worry about money and he just went about his business creating value for as much of humanity as possible.
Don’t let a lack of money stop you from starting your journey.
Once you learn to master your worry the world will open up in ways you cannot possible imagine.
Not worrying is not enough through. You must also believe that you can accomplish the purpose you were born to fulfil with or without adequate funds.
I know plenty of individuals who started their successful businesses with little or no funds.
If you are currently in the middle of a financial crisis remember it will not last forever and you have the power to create a solution out of your current circumstances.
There is a very important lesson for you to learn from the struggles you are going through at this present moment and you may not know what that lesson is for some time.
Worry is a choice
I would like to leave you with the thought that worry is indeed a choice.
While having faith and building a relationship with God has helped me control my worry substantially. The biggest awakening for myself was realising that worry is in fact a choice.
Just like eating food that is bad for you, no one forces you to worry except yourself.
One of the reasons that many individuals turn to drugs and alcohol when they are stressed is because it is a very easy way to turn the worry off that is consistently with them.
However this is just a short term fix.
A better way is to learn to switch the worry off through the techniques I have already discussed.
Remember your mind can be a slave to you or it can be your master. Worry is a sign your mind is your master.
The moment you realise that you can turn your worry off at any time is the moment you become master of your own thoughts.
You have a choice. Your life can be filled with peace and joy or worry and fear regardless of what is happening in your life.
Which one will you choose?