“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
― Viktor E. Frankl
Most people wouldn’t think to connect meditation with financial decisions. After all, the practice of meditation is usually considered a spiritual practice rather than a practical one. However, I believe that a more holistic view of our financial lives is beneficial and that meditation can help us to find this broader perspective.
In 2012, I decided to attend Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness program at UMass. A one-day silent retreat was part of the program and it was a revelation — to turn off my cell phone and just be with myself for 8 hours left me feeling refreshed and clear. It was a life-changing introduction to the power of mindfulness.
Mindfulness is simply paying attention, noticing and being present in whatever you’re doing, it does not require meditation. However, in our hectic, busy world, this can be a challenge! So many people are finding that regular meditation practice helps them become more mindful throughout the day in any given situation.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool when it comes to financial decisions — both large and small. I know for me it gave me the courage to pursue a new direction in my life. There is clarity, freedom, and abundance when you look at your life through the larger lens of fulfillment.
Here are a few ways that I’ve found mindfulness to be helpful to in financial decisions:
Mindfulness can help us to identify our motivations.
One of the major benefits of mindfulness is self-knowledge—it can help us to identify the motives behind our actions. This kind of metacognition can give us the opportunity to observe why we are making a decision.
For example, it could be an old “story” that you have about money. Often, it comes from childhood – I’ve heard many clients with depression-era parents who are convinced they will be bag ladies regardless of whether or not they have enough money to live on. Once you can step back and see where the reaction is coming from, it becomes easier to deal with those feelings productively, and the irrational belief loses its power.
Mindfulness helps to reduce stress.
Stress reduction is one of the more obvious benefits of mindfulness, especially when it includes regular meditation. Less obvious is how it connects to making good financial decisions. Meditation can help counteract the perpetual stress response that many of us endure. So instead of simply responding to the triggers in our environment, we can take more conscious control over our state-of-mind and decision making.
Mindfulness can increase concentration.
There are so many things to be distracted by in the world we live. Often, distractions will lead to poor financial decisions, like impulse buys. Instead of doing what we truly want, we can be held hostage by these diversions. Mindfulness, on the other hand, centers us. And in my case, it helped to remind me of what was truly important. Hopefully, it can do the same for you.
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