Be Thankful; It’s All in Your Mind

(A Financial Tailspin sucks! Don’t compound it.)

We’re going through some … interesting … times, financially. People feel insecure, established institutions are in desperate need of bailout (funny how attractive socialism becomes when you’re the one who needs the handout) and the world economy seems to be teetering on the brink. Now’s a great time to realize: it’s all in our minds.

I mean this quite literally. Have you seen “Money as Debt?” It’s an excellent 47-minute video on where money comes from. It tells how our current system came to be. It highlights flaws in the system and offers some alternatives, all with a tasty dose of conspiracy theory thrown in here and there(*). You can watch the video here: http://www.SteverRobbins.com/r/moneyasdebt

Money is literally nothing more than an idea. It’s a promise we make to deliver a good, a service, or more money at a later date. Why is Bill Gates a billionaire? Because the rest of us agree that he is. We also agree to give him our stuff if he gives us enough money. But it’s all an agreement. Because it’s an agreement, we take action on it, and it’s our actions that have real-world consequences.

“Don’t worry, be happy.”

Bobby McFerrin’s song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” is right on the money. At any given moment, you may or may not be able to control what’s actually happening around you. But you can always choose your attitude about it.

I was in a meeting earlier this year, discussing a key feature of entrepreneurship: the ability to see opportunity where others see problems. Just for jollies, I decided to try spending a week deliberately asking, “Where’s the opportunity here?” every time a problem cropped up. Every single time I asked the question, I was able to find an answer. Often, in mere seconds.

The housing bubble gave many time in an elevated lifestyle

Then I asked, “What’s the upside of the financial crisis?” You know, one answer is this: millions have had the chance to live far beyond their means for many years. While we don’t much care for the consequences, at least they got to enjoy a standard of living they couldn’t have otherwise afforded. I’m serious about this, by the way. Of course it’s natural to be upset when losing your job, your credit, your home, or your car. But being upset won’t change anything. It will just make you feel bad. You can also choose to feel thankful that you had those things to begin with.

Be a Thanksgiving Gratitude Geek

Are there problems in the financial world right now? Yup. And we can live through those problems giving all our attention to the downside or giving all our attention to the opportunities and the upside.

My suggestion to you: spend this Thanksgiving dwelling on the upside. Ask yourself, “what do I have to be thankful for?” and make a big long list. Help everyone around you do the same thing. They say what we need is more optimism in the economy. Optimism isn’t something “out there,” it’s one of the few things we have control over. So let’s exercise that control and see the glass as 10% full, not 90% empty. Because we can’t always change the outside reality, but we can certainly choose our inner reality.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Here are some of the things I’m thankful for:

  • Friends and community
  • Hot running showers
  • Democracy
  • My four-year-old iPod that still works great
  • The chance to teach high school students at an after-school program
  • Zipcar
  • My podcast
  • Friends and community

(*) I love conspiracy theories! I always like to remind myself that just because someone’s paranoid doesn’t mean the conspiracy doesn’t truly exist.

Be Thankful; It’s All in Your Mind

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