Why do you feel poor?


Many people are feeling poor these days. “The down economy and all.” “So much debt.” “My rent keeps going up.” “Government taking more of my hard-earned money.” There are loads of reasons.

There is a difference between feeling poor and being poor though, and I think that many of us who feel poor aren’t poor. That said, it’s not enough to point out all the reasons why you’re not poor and say with a flourish, “so don’t feel poor!” That doesn’t work. (Ever tried to tell an unhappy person all the reasons why they should be happy? Exactly.)

But I will submit to you that feeling poor is one of the single most important challenges facing us as a community these days.

Feeling poor causes us to feel miserly toward our fellow human beings. The tendency is to hoard and to hold back. “I don’t have enough, so why should I give you any?” And it’s not just money; it’s time, energy, love. When we feel like we’re poor, that we don’t have enough to go around, then we contract into ourselves and see others as competitors as opposed to collaborators.

It’s all in the mind

Now imagine, just for a minute, that you felt an overwhelming amount of abundance in your life. I’m not talking about changing your situation at all (I didn’t just make you rich), I’m just asking you to superimpose a feeling of abundance on your current life. How does it feel? Remember, you now feel like you have enough. If you’re like me, you already feel like you have more of yourself to give to others. It feels good, doesn’t it?

Now imagine if everyone felt that way. Imagine what our world would be like if we all felt like we had enough to go around, so much in fact that we felt like we could freely give to each other. Imagine what we could do if we harnessed the power of each other, as opposed to contracting and living within our own little world?  (We’d buy fewer lawn mowers, for a start.)

I don’t want to get into a First World guilt-trip about how most people in the world live on less than the cost of your morning coffee. That’s way too theoretical to matter for most people (unless you travel to these places, in which case it becomes way less theoretical). But I am saying that when we open ourselves to others, we tap into the power of our communities, which can have exponentially positive results.

Luckily, it is possible to not feel poor. And as this is a mindset, it doesn’t mean that you need to have more of something. You can change your mindset.

It’s (mostly) all in the mind

Now granted, there are things you can do to feel less poor:

  • If you feel money-poor, you could ditch all of the things you spend money on that serve to fill the holes you feel in your life. (Hint: later on, you can fill that hole with the people in your life who matter.) I did this by consciously adopting a cool-free lifestyle , where little I owned could cause people to be impressed with me. For example, I drove a $1,200 car for a decade.
  • If you feel energy-poor, you could always adjust your diet and sleeping habits (and ironically, exercising helps). I still struggle with the sleep issue, but I do exercise on a regular basis, and generally eat moderate amounts of healthy food.
  • If you feel time-poor, you could keep a time journal and remove everything non-essential from your life to leave more space for yourself.

But all of these above tricks are just that. You are wealthy. You are abundant. You have so much. Everything you need is around you. You just need to reach out to it. And everyone else around you feels the same way. So why not reach out and ask for help and work together?

Think this is too fatuous for you? Perhaps. But why don’t you try it and see what happens? What could I do to help?

But enough about me. Why do you feel poor?


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