WHAT IS PROSPERITY?
While it is widely believed that the law of attraction draws prosperity to us, it is equally true that we can use the same law of attraction to draw us to our prosperity. In other words, we can navigate our way to our prosperity as it finds us.
The Soul of Prosperity and the pathways that it offers are like a set of driving instructions that you can use to navigate your way to prosperity and, at the same time, draw prosperity to you.
The pathways to prosperity are quite simple. They combine ancient wisdom and common‑sense practices with personal growth techniques such as meditation and creative visualization. Along the way on your journey to prosperity, you build a new, more fulfilling relationship with yourself, with others, and with the world around you. As a result, you experience peace within, and fulfillment in your outer world.
On this simple journey, you make simple choices. You can repeat these choices until you integrate them into the deepest levels of your thinking, actions, and reactions to your experiences. These choices bring new understandings that become an integral part of you, inspiring you to new actions as you move naturally forward on your journey of healing and transformation.
Actually, you have already begun this journey, but may not be aware of its purpose, or of the lessons available to you. You have been traveling by trial and error, as if you are driving along a dark, narrow road without lights, coming to dead ends, running into ditches and obstacles, traveling in circles, and experiencing upset and frustration before taking lessons and choosing a new route.
Without a map, or a clear vision of your destination or how to get there, the journey can seem tedious, pointless and unnecessarily difficult. Wouldn’t it be great to move forward effortlessly and joyfully to wonderful destinations that you choose?
By following the pathways to prosperity, you can avoid much of the trial and error and create deep prosperity in every part of your life. This journey is your human process, and the pathways that you take to prosperity can be direct, simple and effortless when you know your purpose, your destination and the rules of the road. The Soul of Prosperity (Pathways to your Good) simplifies this journey, making it easier for you to move forward as smoothly as possible.
Prosperity is Like Pornography
To paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter when trying to define pornography (obscenity), “I shall no longer attempt to define it, but I know it when I see it.”
Prosperity is like pornography in that we don’t know what prosperity is, but we know it when we feel it. When we feel a sense of peace, fulfillment, faith, hope, and joy, we know we have reached a new level of prosperity.
Prosperity is Multidimensional
Our level of prosperity can change depending on how we see it. Like a beautiful, multifaceted diamond that sparkles and shines differently when we see it from different viewpoints, prosperity has many dimensions, and our perception of prosperity changes depending on how we look at it. We may already be prosperous based on our own inner standards of prosperity, but we may not feel prosperous because we believe that someone else’s standards for prosperity will make us happy.
The Dimensions of Prosperity
Prosperity has at least six dimensions (areas). These dimensions are the possible destinations on your journey to prosperity.
When we prosper in our relationships, we feel a sense of harmony with others. We experience less drama, friction and discomfort. The time that we spend with people is more of a joy than a burden, and time seems to stand still, because we feel a strong rapport.
For example, as a youth, I observed the long goodbyes that my mother and her best friend shared. They talked for hours, weaving seamlessly from just one more topic to the next. They tried to shorten their visits so they could attend to other things, but they kept starting a new thread of conversation. This would go on for hours, and as we finally were really leaving my mother would invariably say, “I don’t know where the time went.” As we left, she seemed like a new person. She was exhilarated, focused, and unburdened. She was at peace.
In my own relationships, I have a friend with whom the conversation weaves from subject to subject as the time passes joyfully. Even after a long absence, when we get together it is as if we have just seen each other in the past week. Being with him is like putting on a pair of comfortable shoes that I had forgotten that I owned. This is relationship prosperity.
We know when we experience prosperity in our families because we find our family relationships to be supportive and uplifting, and we look forward to interacting with our family members. In other words, we have family prosperity when we are relating to our families in a functional way.
When we have family prosperity, we feel free to be who we are with our families, and we feel free to let our family members be who they are when they are around us. Family prosperity contains a minimal amount of judgment, competition, anxiety, discomfort or friction because there are no debts or regrets. We don’t need our family members to be or act in a certain way for us to feel good about ourselves, and they don’t need us to be or act in a certain way for them to feel validated.
This may seem like an impossible dream, but it is certainly possible by following the pathways to prosperity.
When we have occupational prosperity, we find occupational fulfillment and success, and we enjoy our work. We know that we are not experiencing occupational prosperity when we are bored or burned out. If we generally enjoy doing what we do so much that time seems to stand still and we would do it for free, then we know that we have reached a high level of occupational prosperity. Occupational prosperity often leads to financial prosperity.
We know that we have financial prosperity when we have financial peace. Regardless of whether we are working with a $20,000 budget or a $2 million budget, we have financial prosperity when our physical and survival needs are fulfilled and our finances are a source of peace instead of worry. If we have a six‑figure income accompanied by a seven‑figure debt, we may actually experience less financial prosperity than someone who lives on significantly less. Our finances may then be a source of worry that affects every dimension of our prosperity, including our physical prosperity.
Physical prosperity is more than physical health. It is a sense of well‑being and physical comfort that brings us a sense of peace. Another dimension of physical prosperity is logistical ease. Those with hellish commutes rarely experience this degree of physical prosperity.
Often, we associate physical prosperity with a minimal amount of stress and its damaging side‑effects, such as an increased risk of heart attacks, and strokes, and a reduced resistance to illness. Studies have shown that regular meditation reduces stress and its side effects. Meditation also increases our spiritual prosperity. .
We know that we have spiritual prosperity when we attain a sense of inner peace, the peace that passes all understanding, and we feel a connection with something larger than ourselves. When we feel spiritual prosperity, any challenges we face seem temporary, and we are well aware of what we can do to overcome these challenges.
We have spiritual prosperity when we have developed ways to navigate these challenges and to remember our connection to a Source of love and joy. We know that we are experiencing spiritual prosperity when we no longer have an ongoing sense of anxiety, fear, doubt or worry.
WHY HAS PROSPERITY ELUDED US?
Often, we have let Wall Street, Hollywood, Madison Avenue, or a combination of the three, define our prosperity.
We have let Wall Street define our prosperity when we believe that prosperity is only available on the condition that we attain a certain level of monetary and material wealth.
We have let Hollywood define our prosperity when we believe that the images projected by Hollywood―which are illusions created by make‑up, stringent preparation, planning, a cast of thousands and a budget of millions―depict a perfect lifestyle. In Hollywood, solutions to challenges are resolved neatly within an hour or two, and we assume that all the good guys will live happily ever after.
We have let Madison Avenue (the advertising world) further define our prosperity by believing that if we buy the products that they sell, we will have the fantasy life depicted by Hollywood and we will be worthy of love.
The problem with external definitions of prosperity is that they invite us to strive for unrealistic, non‑existent illusions based on unattainable standards of perfection. These illusions guarantee constant dissatisfaction.
Note that when we defined the dimensions of prosperity, there were no absolutes that indicated when we were or were not experiencing prosperity. There were just general feelings of prosperity or the lack thereof. In other words, we can define prosperity any way we choose. The reason that we often do not experience prosperity is because we have let others define it for us, and we believe that we must attain their standards in order to prosper.
Why Prosperity Has Eluded Us
Prosperity has eluded us for any of three reasons:
We do not know that there is a set of principles and laws that create prosperity―When we understand that our inner awareness (our conscious and subconscious minds working in harmony) creates our prosperity, we have our first clue as to why prosperity has eluded some of us. We haven’t realized that the true engine of prosperity is our own subconscious mind.
We do not know that we can use these principles and laws to create our prosperity―Prosperity may have eluded us because we haven’t realized that it is available to us. We have been conditioned to believe that prosperity is something outside of us, beyond our control and unavailable to us.
We haven’t integrated these laws into our personal life practices―We may not have been aware of many of the tools and techniques that can create prosperity. Even someone who may have been aware of these techniques may not have regularly applied them so they can integrate them into their lives.
We Let Others Define Our Prosperity
We have become very skilled at letting others define every aspect of our happiness. This happens very gradually as we respond to feedback that we receive from others and from the world. Each time we receive positive feedback, we repeat the actions that we have taken to elicit it. When we receive negative feedback, we avoid the behaviors that have drawn it to us because we subconsciously fear that we will not get what we need to survive. Unfortunately, this behavior pattern keeps us from being the person we want to be and forces us into being someone we are not.
To demonstrate this, a group of students in a large lecture hall decided to play a joke on a professor who had a habit of pacing the floor of the auditorium. Each time the professor moved to the right of the podium, the students became inattentive. They talked among themselves, rattled papers, and otherwise created commotion. When the professor moved to the left of the podium, the students became silent and stared in awe at the professor. By the end of the lecture, the students had driven the professor to the far‑left corner of the room, where he cowered and shouted at the top of his lungs!
The professor was amazed to find himself withering in a far corner of the cavernous lecture hall, driven there by the feedback he received from his students. He was not conscious of his drift, but subconsciously he told himself, If I react by moving to the left, the students will show me the respect and attention that I desire. Subconsciously, the professor equated this respect and attention with the core human need for love. He then responded to the feedback he equated with love, and let himself be driven into a corner of the room.
We Let Our Environment Define Our Prosperity
Since birth, we have received feedback from the world in the same way the professor received it from his class. This feedback drives our behavior.
The feedback that we receive is conditional feedback. That is, if we meet certain conditions, we receive positive rewards: love, positive attention, and admiration. If we don’t meet those conditions, we receive negative rewards: criticism, punishment, and shame‑inducing responses.
I’m sure you can think of examples of how you have modified your behavior to please others. In most cases, these reactions have been subtle and innocuous. In other cases, our people‑pleasing behaviors may have caused us to betray our true essence.
We Concoct Stories Based on This Feedback
When we are children, our parents and families truly hold the keys to our survival, because they provide us with our food, shelter and protection. When they withhold love and approval from us, we subconsciously fear that they will withhold the means for our survival, because love and approval are core needs. We subconsciously perceive that we are in mortal danger, and we respond to this danger by modifying our behavior according to their wishes. Our parents learned to control our behavior by withholding, or threatening to withhold love and approval when we behaved in ways that did not meet their standards.
Since everyone is trained from birth to understand this dynamic, others also use this dynamic to elicit the behavior they want from us. By giving positive feedback for desirable behavior, and either withholding positive feedback or giving negative feedback when we exhibit behavior they want to discourage, they manage our behavior, our perceptions of ourselves, and our sense of well‑being. Just as the professor was forced into one corner of the room, we are forced into a way of thinking and behaving that may not reflect our true nature but, instead, reflects someone else’s desires for us based on their world view, their fears, their desires, Subconsciously, we believe the stories that this feedback creates.
Our Stories Limit Our Prosperity
There are many ways that our stories can limit our prosperity. For example, a parent who feels inadequate because he or she didn’t have the educational opportunities that are available to you may have stressed education to you. Their emphasis on education may have been so pronounced that their love for you may seem to be conditional based on your academic performance, regardless of your native abilities, aptitudes, or interests. You may have wanted to be a carpenter, but your parents wanted you to be a doctor. Their way of showing love for you was to push you, judge you, scold you, or shame you if you didn’t meet their standard of perfection based on what they wanted for you. Your self‑esteem may have suffered because you believed that your worth was dependent on meeting their criteria for perfection.
In another example, your parents or parental images may have an idea of which body type and physical characteristics are lovable. They may have grown up in an era where survival and self‑worth were dependent on being loved by someone, and being loved by someone was dependent on having certain physical and social characteristics. Out of love, they may have wanted to mold you into a person who has such characteristics so you would survive and have the love that they desired for you. Consciously or subconsciously, they shamed you into believing that you had to look a certain way and be of a certain weight in order to get the love that they wanted you to have.
This conditional love may have had the short‑term effect of controlling your behavior, but it also had a pernicious long‑term effect of planting stories in your mind that compromised your self‑worth and your ability to experience prosperity. The effect that these stories have had is quite evident in many of the people I have counseled.
One such client is Judy, the middle child in her family, who felt she was not seen, heard or valued because she didn’t receive the attention that the oldest child received, and felt she was ignored when her younger sibling was born. Judy is left‑handed and always felt different and flawed. In her heart, she has collected a whole catalog of slights. Anytime something unpleasant happens to her, she believes that it is because she is a left‑handed middle child, because this is the story that she tells herself.
Another client, Joe, has received constant criticism from perfectionist parents who want him to be all that he can be. This criticism implies that he is not good enough just as he is. In his heart, he has told himself the story that he is not good enough, and he can’t finish projects for fear of withering criticism. The story that he subconsciously tells himself is that If he doesn’t finish, he won’t get criticized. This has had negative effects on his life and career. He is disappointed by a lack of fulfillment, and his heart is breaking.
A third client, Chris, received attention from her parents when she was sick, and she perceived this attention as love. In her heart, Chris associates being ill with receiving love, so she subconsciously opens herself to being sick in order to get the love that she needs to survive, but she doesn’t understand why she can’t seem to get well.
In these examples, my clients have told themselves stories about their left‑handedness, their not‑good‑enoughness and their sickness. We have all told ourselves similar stories. These stories diminish us and keep us from fulfilling the potential that lies within each of us. It is as if the part of ourselves that we have rejected is living in the basement of our minds, where it is held hostage and cannot escape. What holds this part of us back are the stories that we tell ourselves or that we have been told by others. These stories are as fictional as a fairy tale, but to us they are very real in the same way that an elephant, tethered since infancy to a small stake in the ground, continues into adulthood to believe it cannot move. The adult elephant has the strength to simply walk away, but the childhood memory of being tethered to the stake convinces the elephant that it cannot escape.