I'm going to tackle this overtly-popular topic here — not because I haven't already questioned it a thousand times on my own, and not because I want to convince you to the opposite by standing on my soap-box and preaching what I have found to be true. But because it came up for me recently (again), and because I hope it will prompt you to look at this closer in your own life, on your own time, in the privacy of your own journal, and find out what's really true for you — in your own experience.
Though the title of this post is that you don't have to trade peace for prosperity, chances are, you probably don't truly believe that.
Chances are, deep down you still harbor this belief. Chances are that you've applied all the traditional wisdoms, read inspirational passages, and tried to positive-self-talk yourself out of this one a gazillion times — but this pesky belief still lingers in your nether regions like a sticky ick, that just won't un-stick. And that is because, until you look that beast in the eye, and find out it's actually just an adorably confused little monster - it's going to keep coming around. This belief permeates our culture and our minds, wether we like it or not. Just when we think we're free of it, it shows up again.
This belief, that when given a voice, sounds a bit like this:
"You can't make a good living without killing yourself for it.Even if you do what you love, you have to work really really hard to make a good living."
"There is a price to pay for "success", and that price is your peace, and free-time."
"In order to get what I really need and want, I'll have to take on a lot of stress, and overwhelming tasks"
All of these thoughts culminate in this general belief that we must trade-away our peace and freedom in exchange for prosperity and/or "success". And what do we do when we believe this — even on a very low-lying level?
We CREATE stress, and discomfort and dis-ease in our work and in ourselves, so that we can justify and defend our worth. We become stressed and overburdened before we even begin, we become crippled to the act of receiving — I mean look at that statement, it's an impossible choice! No one would ever again move forward if they were conscious of what they believe they are having to give up. We stay stuck in the ick, unable to move, and we don't know why. We tell the story of how "hard we work" so we can make ourselves feel "worthy" of what we earn, as if our skill or talent weren't enough in and of itself — as if because of our suffering over it (with "hard work" and a good dose of stress for good measure) we will have finally, truly "earned it". As if our work is not worth as much if we didn't experience some degree of pain over it.
So we hold back the power of our grace in loving action, and we hold back our own self-care, because on some level we believe that our blood, sweat and tears is worth more. We believe that having work that comes with ease, and peace and abundance is somehow taking away from someone else, a drain on society, or even worse - that it makes you selfish and spoiled. (<-- More beliefs to be questioned) When we believe this, it causes us to swing like a giant pendulum back and forth between prosperity and peace — one always existing WITHOUT the other. You get the prosperity, at the expense of your peace, or you get the peace at the expense of your prosperity — one essentially "costs" you the other. While you are living in prosperity, you are forced to be in denial about your need for peace, and while you are living in peace, you are forced to be in denial about your need for prosperity.
It feels like you can't win.
You are honestly convinced you can't really have both at once. These are just a few of the things that this belief does to us, among many others. But is it even true?
I have done this work (and continue to do it when the belief creeps back up) and I have seen for myself: That TRUE prosperity will never come at the EXPENSE of your peace and happiness... it will come BECAUSE of your peace and happiness. True prosperity will not come as something separate from your joy and peace... it will come as a natural by-product of it. It is BECAUSE of your joy and peace, that true prosperity comes, not in spite of it. This I know.
Otherwise it is only an unending loop of stress, dotted by small periods of relaxation, which are largely outweighed by the aforementioned stress. Otherwise, it simply doesn't live up to it's name: which is derived from the latin word 'Prosperus' meaning "doing well" or "flourishing" - if you are in an unending loop of stress, you are not "doing well" or flourishing. You are surviving. And surviving is not synonimous with prosperity.
But it is not enough for me to tell you this. It is definitely not enough for you to take my word for it. It is so tempting for me to ramble off all of the reasons that I have found to support this knowing that has sprouted in me. But that would only rob you of the precious experience of coming to that deep realization for yourself. It would rob you of the processing that will actually begin to loosen the chokehold of this old and all-too-familiar belief, within yourself. The one that will allow solutions and new perspectives to rise to the surface in the absence of all that weight. And I want you to have that for yourself.
So please, let's inquire shall we? My favorite form of inquiry is 'The Work' of Byron Katie', so I am going to use that method in this post. If you haven't done 'The Work' or don't know about it - I highly, HIGHLY (did I say highly?) recommend it.
Alright, let's do this thing: Open a blank text document on your computer, or grab a journal and a pad of paper and write down this belief, followed by the 4 questions below:
"I have to trade my peace and freedom for prosperity"
THE 4 QUESTIONS:
1. Is it true? (only answer YES or NO)
2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? (only answer YES or NO - or "I don't know". This is where you go farther, dig deeper, go outside your own head-space, can you absolutely positively know that this is true?)
3. How do you react when you think this thought? (what emotions come up, what internal reactions happen, what do you DO if anything, what behaviors surface, what happens in your life as a result of this thought?)
4. Who would you be without this thought? (close your eyes, imagine yourself in your life - just as your life IS, except this thought just DOES NOT EXIST for you, you can't even conceive of it — who are you without this thought? How are you? What's different in this world without this thought?)
THE TURNAROUND: take the original statement and turn it around to the opposite. In this case:
"I DON'T have to trade my peace and freedom for prosperity"
Can you find 3 genuine examples of how this turnaround could be just as true, if not truer? Write them down.
I encourage you to take the time to give yourself the gift of finding those answers for yourself. It has been said that all the words of wisdom that we will EVER need already exist in this world, but until they are deeply realized for the self, that's all they are — words. They inspire, they uplift, but they also fade away. When these truths are deeply realized within ourselves, they begin to permeate our being, and that is when true change, true freedom, and an unshakeable peace and understanding finally begins to emerge, both in us, and in the world.
When we untie these threads that bind us, the result is freedom for all people. Because we stop perpetuating the myth, we loosen the knots in the collective conscious, and we quite simply, very quietly, and absolutely ordinarily — change the whole F**ing world.
Can you imagine a world where people's needs are met from a place of peace and joy instead of from a place of stress?
Yah... WOW, right? This is the belief that keeps us from it. This is where we start.
P.S. — Prosperity is something that is defined individually, it means very different things for different people. This is not about my definition of prosperity, or "society's", it's about YOURS. Define it for yourself. And then make friends with it... we have no idea what's possible outside of our beliefs. Not until we go outside them.