A Matter of Attitude: Flat Broke or Rising to the Occasion?
©2006 Judy H. Wright www.ArtichokePress.com
Money will buy you a pretty good dog, but it won't buy the wag of his tail.
~Henry Wheeler Shaw
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but ‘tis also the time of year when many people are faced with financial crises and find themselves flat broke. The Holidays are jam packed with food, family, friends, and frustrations. We desire to be, have, and buy all that will make our loved ones and ourselves happy, but we are usually long on want lists and short on cash. It is easy to fall prey to the seduction of buying on unlimited credit but difficult to face the unrelenting bills long after the momentary joy is gone.
We Are More Than What We Have or Do
Often we subconsciously relate our worth to the world in terms of incomes, nice cars, or brand name clothing. Our inner feelings on how we earn, save and even handle money are connected to our self-esteem. We judge ourselves at our worst and others at their best. We assume that somehow they have the "secret" of making everyone satisfied and grateful for their gifts and throwing lavish parties without breaking a sweat or a fingernail.
However, our worth as individuals is not tied to how much, how big or how many. Our worth is intrinsically tied to our ability to share our spiritual gifts. The truth is, money doesn't buy happiness. We are so much more than what we have or what we do. If not, who are we when we no longer do or have?
We will all be Broke at Some Time in Our Life:
Everyone experiences periods of emptiness in his or her existence, sometimes more than once. That episode may take place in the confines of a bank account, but could just as easily occur in our health, spiritual lives, or relationships.
Look at our neighbors who have gone through the horrific hurricanes, floods and forest fires the last few years. Many are mourning the loss of family, possessions and livelihoods. The devastation was non-discriminating. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. After a blow like this, it will take time to recover, financially and emotionally. Some people bounce back quickly while others will never be able to overcome the trauma and move on with life. They will be stuck in a rut of victim hood and will stay there until it feels comfortable and becomes a new way of life.
Broke or Poor?
"Broke" or in "in debt" is a temporary condition. It does not have to become a lifestyle. My friend, Susan McMann, BS, MA, an empowerment coach teaches; "Debt is not something we're IN (unless we choose to be), it's something we HAVE, from time to time. If we're not IN it, there is no need to get OUT of it. Alternatively, there are times when we choose to HAVE debt, and times when we choose to be debt-free. For those of you who would like to come up for air, it's relatively easy to liquidate debt, once the decision is made to do so."
Nobody wants to be broke or "broken". But, as difficult as it is, it still provides an opportunity for creative problem solving. One can look at his situation and say, "This stinks, I don't want to do this ever again. What do I have to do to dig myself out of this hole? What options do I have or can I create? How do I draw upon the resiliency of my soul to start over? What are my choices, options and avenues to begin today to make a better life?"
On the other hand, one can choose to accept the condition of being poor but the consequence for that choice is an erosion of your spirit and attitude If you see yourself as poor, and coming from a place of fear and hardship, you will always be poor. Someone once said that the best thing you can do for the poor, is not be one of them. That isn't unloving or judgmental; it is a statement of not accepting poverty as inevitable or unchanging.
Presents or Presence?
So, are you looking for something to give that special person on your list? Instead of shopping the mall for another doodad, how about turning inward to gifts of the heart? The best present you can give anyone is unconditional love and acceptance. People who matter want or need your presence in their life much more than they want or need a present.
Invite friends and family to dinner, even if it is Mac and Cheese on mismatched plates. Write love letters. Give coupon books. Set an example by honestly admitting, "I'm broke this year, and I don't want to incur any more debt, let's skip exchanging presents, and give gifts of service or time."
There are people who have money and then there are people who are rich. Poverty has never been cured with a dose of money. The only way to cure a feeling of lack, which is a state of mind, is through a change of attitude. We have all been broken, either financially, physically or spiritually at one time or another and we may be again at some time. It's not a fun place to visit, so do you really want to live there?
This year adopt an attitude of truly celebrating the occasions of life. Give a gift of your time and talent and ask others to reciprocate. Being totally present in your interactions with others is the best gift you could ever give. Make this a season of service, joy and non-judgment of everyone, including you.
After all sharing generously our gifts of spirit is what the holidays are all about.
Judy H. Wright is an author and parent educator in Missoula, MT. To download additional articles and to sign up for her free ezine The Artichoke-finding the heart of the story in the journey of life please go to the website www.ArtichokePress.com To book Judy for a speaking engagement, http://www.ArtichokePress.com/workshops