The fear of being poor has a grip on a lot of people, and really holds them back. If you can make peace with fear, then holding an abundance mindset is easy, and the road to riches becomes a whole lot easier.
Can you imagine anything worse than ice-fishing?
What a miserable experience it must be. Out in the freezing cold, standing on a big block of ice, nothing to look at but your line disappearing down a little hole…
… and then just waiting around for hours and hours, like a penguin at a bus-stop.
It would drive me mental.
I was on a ferry from the Greek mainland out to one of the islands, and I ended a chatting to a Norwegian fellow. He said that he loved ice-fishing – it was one of his favourite things to do.
“But don’t you get cold?”
“Sure, but it’s not so bad.”
“How do you handle it?”
“When I was young, maybe 4 or 5, my father took me ice-fishing. It was freezing. I started to cry but my father said, ‘look, you’re here now. You can either spend the whole day crying about it, or you can learn to love the cold. You’ve got a choice. You can either choose to be miserable, or chose to love the cold.’ And so that’s what we did. We just learned to love the cold.”
I said if he was in Australia someone would have reported his dad to DOCS, but the Europeans have a different way of doing things.
We are biologically hard-wired to fear and hate certain things – the cold, loud noises, spiders, Miley Cyrus concerts. It’s always done a good job of keeping the human animal alive.
But we also have a conscious mind that can over-ride the animal side of our selves. We stand at the edge of the water, and we know it’s going to be cold, but we push ourselves to dive in anyway.
And so there’s a level at which we can separate sensation from the stories we tell about sensation. We can separate the feeling of being cold from the suffering of being cold.
In time, we can even learn to love the sensation – just the way I learned to love vegetables when I grew up / turned 40.
It seems to me that being poor (the stress of not having enough to look after ourselves and our loved ones) is almost an instinctive fear. Or maybe we’ve been conditioned to fear it. Either way it sits pretty deep.
And we let the fear of it run the show a lot of times. Often in ways we’re not fully conscious of.
I like the story I heard about two types of running. Back in ancient times there was a woman who hired a very attractive maid-servant. She saw the instant attraction her husband felt towards the girl, and instantly realised her mistake. For 6 years she made sure that she never left the two of them alone.
Then one day, she and her husband went to the public baths. She realised that she had forgotten her comb and absent-mindedly sent her husband home to get it. Her husband, seeing the opportunity, ran gleefully through the streets.
Soon though, she realised what she had done, and went running home as well, to keep the spark from the hay pile, fear and anxiety written all over her face.
There are two types of running, though both are headed for the same destination.
The pursuit of wealth is like this. There are two ways of running. We can either pursue our fortune joyously – focus on the freedom and the lifestyle it will buy us, and how much fun it is to manage a truly cranking portfolio.
Or we can try and build a defensive wall of money to keep the suffering of poverty out.
To the outside observer they might look exactly the same, but there’s a world of difference between them.
At a practical level, we make better decisions when we’re relaxed. If we’re tense with fear, we’ll grasp and rush. That might mean jumping at the first property that you find in your budget, or selling and taking profits too early.
If your more cosmically minded, if we’re running joyously, we’re focused on abundance and opportunity and that’s what we’ll attract. If we’re acting out of fear, we’re focussed on lack and loss, and that’s what we’ll end up calling in. I’ve seen it play out this way over and over again.
And ultimately it’s a question of who you want to be. Do you want to live life on the defensive, or do you want to be open to everything life has to offer? Do you want to keep yourself partially hidden, or live in the glorious YES?
It’s like Nietzsche says, “to say no to any part of life, is to say no to all of life.” We can’t pick or choose what experiences we’re open to… We’re either open or we’re not. We’re either living in the abundance, or we’re not.
It’s a constant discipline to check in and make sure we’re running the race we want to run.
But if we can learn to love the pangs of poverty, the way our Norwegian friend learned to love the cold, then we’ll have nothing to fear.
When was the last time you missed a meal? I haven’t missed a meal (unless I was too busy having fun) in 20 years, but still I think I should eat a little bit extra at every meal, just in case the next meal doesn’t come. Totally irrational.
Make peace with hunger, with sleeping rough, with relying on the kindness of strangers, and you will neutralise the fears of poverty. From there, the road to wealth is easy.
It might sound difficult, but if a 4 year old boy can learn to love the ridiculous cold, I’m sure you can do it too.