There were two reasons that I chose to purchase The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist. In a fortnight I will move out of my parents house and into my new rental property. Not only will my costs increase exponentially but I will also face the new challenge of living with someone else, after being on my own for nearly two-years. The vast accumulation of debt showed me how much I had to learn about shared financial responsibility, the last time I tried it. This time I want to make a better job, and so I set my sub-conscious the task of finding me some help. I believe this is one of the reasons my head was turned when The Soul of Money glided past.
So my sub-conscious knew I was on the lookout for a financial book, but why this one? The answer lies within the pages of The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. When Brown was making reference to the book she used the words incredible. When an author like Brown makes that kind of comment it’s a purchase that is right up there with wrapping paper at Christmas (although one year I confess to wrapping everything in Newspaper but that’s beside the point).
The book failed to deliver to my expectations, but this doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good book. I was expecting a how to approach towards finance, and this book does not cater for this. It’s my own fault for not reading the reviews or doing any research so I can’t blame the author one iota. So I didn’t get what I wanted, but I still had a good read and learned a lot.
So what is the book about?
Twist gave me a timely reminder of how I live in the land of not enough. I wake up in the morning and before I have even drawn back my quilt I am thinking that there are not enough hours in the day to finish all the work I have to do. I have to work so many hours because I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough money because I don’t have as much luck as everyone else etc., etc. This way of thinking contains all of the ingredients to create an unfulfilled life. Twist doesn’t sell the 10 Ways to Make You Rich tagline, and instead her book teaches you to be grateful with what you have, and to understand that what you have is sufficient.
One of the teachings that stuck in my mind was the fact that money is a human invention. I guess my father was right when he used to scream at me that money doesn’t grow on trees. We designed it, and we manufactured it, to assist in the exchange of goods and services. Money only has the power that we assign to it, and we have assigned it tremendous power. But it doesn’t have to be like that. We can take away its power by living a sufficient and grateful life. Listen to these two contrasting stories, both provided for by Twist.
While walking through the streets of Bombay, India, Twist was repeatedly harassed by beggars. We are not talking about your typical man or woman who has a cup or cap in their hands asking for cash. We are talking about young children who have had their limbs removed in order to make them more efficient beggars. You see in order to be a successful beggar you need to generate sympathy. How more likely are you to be sympathetic if someone is asking you for money whilst holding a child with one hand missing? Families mutilating their own children so they can earn more money. Money that will never change their lives enough so they can escape the mouse wheel that they are walking on. In fact, if you were to give them more money you would just be perpetuating their problem, because the more money they earn the bigger the trade becomes and more children suffer (In India begging is seen as a trade). This is how damaging money can be.
On the other hand…
In the Amazonian rain forest there exists an indigenous tribe known as the Achuar. These people have lived very happy, grateful and content lives for thousands of years. Yet until recently they wouldn’t know a dollar bill if it walked up to them dressed as a dollar bill whilst screaming the words, “I am a dollar bill!” into their ears with an old style ear trumpet. The Achuar do not need a single penny in order to live a sufficient and grateful life. They just need each other.
So I didn’t get the education that I expected, but I did get an education. The Bombay beggar reminded me of the damage that money can incur, and the tale of the Achuar tribe reminded me of what is possible without holding any money at all. Twist says it best when she says that money has the power to destroy and the power to save lives. Napoleon Hill says that in order to have money you just need to ask the Universe for it often enough, and with enough belief, and the ball would have started rolling. Twist talks about Mother Theresa and how she has built a multi-million dollar operation and all she did was pray.
Wealth offers no protection for human suffering. We need to use the genius that designed and created money, to understand that it’s all a choice. We choose to think about money in this way. We choose scarcity. Why not choose sufficiency instead? Lynne Twist does.