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OF MIND, OF MONEY, “A PATH TOWARDS MONEY MINDFULNESS”

BY CELIA POWELL, CPA


"The path towards money mindfulness starts with developing a positive money mindset. Money is a tool that can help us achieve our goals and build a life we love. By changing the way we think about money and viewing it as a tool to create a better life, we can start to create a healthier and more mindful relationship with it."





#1 What is Mindfulness?


According to the article, “What-is-mindfulness?,” Mindfulness “is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.” (What is Mindfulness? - Mindful - Mindful.org). Taking time out to breathe in the present moment is the most simplistic way to practice mindfulness. The beauty of practicing mindfulness is low cost if any because there isn’t anything to purchase, nothing extraordinarily difficult to do, no distances to travel, and it’s easier than we all think. The benefits that are derived vs. the effort spent is exceptional. The benefits far outweigh the sacrifice of a few moments at a time to pause, take a break, and be mindfully present. Studies and research about mindfulness have increased vastly over the last two decades. In 1990, only three articles in academic journals mentioned “mindfulness” as compared to 2017 when there were 692 articles written. The growth represents a 99% increase over the amount of data, analysis, outcomes, and knowledge about mindfulness; we now know more than ever about mindfulness, how to use it, the outcomes it may produce, and the benefits that can be had. Our understanding of mindfulness has grown tremendously, but we still do not know how it works; we just know that it does. Mindfulness has universal application and can be applied to any area of our lives; we stand to benefit greatly by the power of paying attention. Evidence based research has been applied to areas such as mental health, social racial justice, anti-aging, stress, eating, to name a few. The results have been very encouraging, and the momentum is building to integrate mindfulness on some level in various disciplines such as education, medicine, psychology, government and military initiatives.



#2 Mindset vs Mindfulness?


“When you open your mind, you open new doors to new possibilities for yourself and new opportunities to help others” (Roy T. Bennett). Mindset is the established set of attitudes held by someone, whereas mindfulness is a matter of being presently aware. We often confuse the meanings of these two and tend to think of them as equals, but they are not; they are very different, and both have great impact on our perspectives, how we manage our lives, and money. We can practice mindfulness to manage our mindsets and begin to receive different results in any area that we use it. Our focus is on mindfulness practices and how we can leverage it to take greater control over how we handle money.


The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

#3 Being Present


“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone” (Louis L'Amour). With the demands of today’s society and our lifestyles, we should be concerned about how vested we are in the present moment. We are constantly being bombarded for attention with calendars maxed out, along with our credit card limits and checking accounts. If it’s not an email soliciting a sale, an Instagram post, a Facebook notification, a text alert or maybe a good old phone call, it all severs our attention and makes it difficult to stay in the present moment. We have a tendency to live our lives in either of the three realms: 1. expecting the future; 2. regretting or celebrating past lives; or 3. being in the focused present moment. Being present is practicing mindfulness and brings value to the decision-making process of how, when, and what we spend our money on. Practicing mindfulness with being present helps us combat the consumption monster that can stir within and outside of us.


#4 Mindfulness and Money Decisions


“It's a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack” (Germany Kent). Let’s explore what a mindful practice could do in the area of money management. When we look deeper into MINDFULNESS 4 The Lemonade Mindset l July 2020 MINDFULNESS our motives for spending money, it falls into two basic categories: needs and wants. Where it gets complicated, is when we confuse what is a want as a need and we begin to fund things that are not necessary. This confusion is also an area that is exploited by marketers and advertisers as they do a great job convincing us we need more: they establish a void so that we can try to fill it. We are mindful of them and yet we give them our attention, access to our homes, screens, and into our personal lives via social media and other outlets; when we do, the void grows deeper.6 As the void grows, so does our need to fill it, so in response, we consume more mindless self-indulgences in an attempt to feel fulfilled and satisfied by an artificially manufactured desire. We can now begin to see why we have a hard time taming the consumption beast. When marketers and advertisers attempt to provide a one-size fits all solution that we as individuals buy into, it will fall short of bringing us the satisfaction that we are seeking. When we filter this through the mindfulness lens, we pause, breathe,and acknowledge that each person is an individual that has wants and needs that are specific to their life’s experience and genetic code. It’s almost impossible to determine the wants of an individual, so the marketers make that determination for us to get the sale, leaving us with another pair of black shoes that we do not really want once we get them home with the other pairs of black shoes that we didn’t need or want. We only wanted them because someone else made it so; the lesson here is take a moment to scan what we already possess before we make a commitment with our money and assess if the purchase is really what we want. Our wants have driven us to excesses beyond our ability to handle it. A 2013 Huffington Post survey by Lisa Belkin found that clutter was a major source of anxiety for Americans--ranking as high as unanticipated expenses and not having enough time for loved ones; it can be distracting. A 2015 Princeton study found that the more “objects in the visual field” (e.g., clutter), the harder the brain has to work to ignore it. The more stuff we have, the more difficult it is to find what we need. A remedy for the increase in clutter and things that we have and own is to be mindful of our attachment to things. We need to take time to assess whether or not what we possess has a present and relevant meaning to our lives that we live now. When we have material things that are inherited from family members that are no longer alive, most times, we attach “sentimental” value to it because, somehow, we’ve equated their thing as a part of them; so, we hold on attempting to stay connected. In reality, the thing is not what we really want but the person that possessed it. We also buy things for the life they hope to have one day, rather than the one they actually have, it’s called “Aspirational Clutter.” I practice this with my wardrobe. I, from time to time when shopping, will run into a great buy on something that I think I can use at a later date for a time not yet on my calendar. What’s happening is that I make up a future thing just to rationalize the purchase and it usually backfires. This is an area where applying mindful shopping would be useful to my bank balance. We need to ask ourselves, “Do I really need this? Will it make my life better?” Studies show we don’t wear 80% of the clothes in our wardrobe. We can mindfully begin to make other choices about the money that we spend on the 80% of clothing that we do not wear. We can begin, instead, to mindfully save our money and place it in an account that will better align with your life’s intentions and goals.


Summary


“Mindfulness isn’t difficult. We just need to remember to do it” (Sharon Salzberg). Practicing Mindfulness is proving to be beneficial in most areas of our lives. The practice of mindfulness is not difficult or costly; we just have to integrate and apply it where we want to see improvement. Taking a pause and being present is a simple way of taking control over our decisions and choices through the power of paying attention. Many times, we are on auto pilot attempting to fill manufactured voids that when examined more closely, are not truly for us, leaving us empty, unfulfilled, and sometimes broke from poor money decisions that curtails us from really achieving our purpose and goals. Practicing Mindfulness with our money can improve our bottom lines.


~Celia Powell, CPA.


To learn more about her or for daily financial tips, follow her on IG:

@celiapowellcpa or in TikTok @celiapowellcpa8

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