Healthy, Wealthy, and Conscious

Healthy, Wealthy, and Conscious

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were discussing the differences between the two sides of the fracking issue in our county. On the oil side, there were corporations spending millions on ads to convince voters to side with them and allow minimally-regulated fracking in their backyards. On the community side, there were a few unpaid volunteers with petitions hanging out in front of the library. All the while, my eight-year-old daughter was listening. She’s always listening. Except when I tell her to clean. And a little while later, she asked us, “How much money does it cost to get a law changed?”

We started to explain that our laws are made by people – and our elected representatives – based on what we collectively agree is best for the community. But she’s a smart cookie, so we decided it would be better to tell the truth. The truth, of course, is that tons of money is spent to influence voters and lawmakers, so the answer – especially if your opponents are oil companies – was “tons.”

“That’s why I want to be rich!” she responded. “So I can change the world in ways that are good for everyone.”

And that, folks, is pretty much the best reason I can think of to become wealthy.

If there were more community- and sustainability-minded people with oodles of money, the world would be a better place. Which is why I want you to become one of those people. Because, chances are, if you’re on our mailing list, you want a peaceful, healthy, equitable world. And if so, I want you to be rich and generous. Please.

But why should I, as healthcare practitioner, be concerned about people’s financial status? Three reasons. First, I want people to be healthy in all areas of their lives, and unhealthy relationships with money are epidemic and a cause of great stress. Second, another facet of whole health, as I see it, is the ability to develop and share your gifts, and having ample money usually allows for the freedom to devote yourself to these gifts. Third, I want to leave our children with a healthy planet and I believe the extreme division of wealth today is an impediment to this goal. We need more healthy, wealthy, conscious people in order to tip the scales.

If you’re up for the challenge, the first step is healing your relationship with money. Unfortunately, the corporate politics that started this conversation are precisely what make many conscientious people averse to acquiring money. I should know – I’m a former member of the Money is the Root of All Evil Club. But such an aversion to wealth is misguided and disempowering. Denying yourself money because some people do unethical things for it is like denying yourself a glass of wine because some people are alcoholics.

Back in grad school, I did an internship at a public health facility serving homeless youth. My mentor ran an acupuncture clinic in the basement. The “treatment rooms” were constructed from old blankets hung from the ceiling to create partitions between the beds. Everyone could hear everyone else. It was pretty squalid. Then we got a $1 million donation and everything changed. We were able to make tremendous improvements to the facility. Guess who gave us the money.

The donation came from a man named Bill Gates, and whatever your feelings about him or Microsoft or Windows 8, you must admit, that’s a cool thing to be able to do.

These days, most big accomplishments – good and bad – have a lot of money behind them. So, whatever cause inspires you – saving tigers from extinction, educating women, providing people with fresh water, preventing the immersion of Louisiana – you’ll be more successful at it with a pile of cash in your corner.

Healing your relationship with money is a process. I’ve been consciously engaged in it for 20 years and I’ve been amazed at some of the stuff that’s come out of my subconscious mind. I realize how much I opposed the flow of money into my life out of solidarity with those who are impoverished – even though I could have helped all of us if I were wealthy and generous. I was embarrassed to be seen in new clothes or with nice possessions. I believed that having money would make me shallow, or greedy, or unable to relate to people without it. If you’re carrying around any such beliefs, I recommend you research rich people who are still “real” and doing great, charitable things with their money. Dismantle your stereotypes. Because you’ll never let yourself gain wealth if you have disdain for the wealthy.

You don’t need to have the drive to change the world like my daughter to “qualify” for an abundance of money. Whatever your gift – to educate, to love, to heal, to make art, to listen, to keep peace, to raise children to be good people – it all adds up in the world when you share it. But your ability to devote yourself to it can be undermined by inadequate finances. Too often, I’ve seen talented people sideline their gifts because they don’t trust themselves to bring in money through their passion. Too often, I’ve seen kids who don’t receive the attention they need because their parents are disabled by medical problems they can’t afford to get fixed. 

I have a friend, a healer, who is the kindest, most guileless woman you could ever meet. Lots of people in the healing arts have trouble asking for money in exchange for their services – I think we feel it makes our work less noble – but not her. Once, when I paid her after she worked on me, she got a huge smile on her face, clapped her hands, and said, “Oh boy! I love money!” It was entirely innocent and sweet. The “love of money” usually carries negative connotations, but hearing her say this erased any notion in my mind that money itself is the problem.

There’s so much to be said about bringing money into your life in a healthy way, and I’ve only scratched the surface today. If you’re interested in reading more, two great books on the subject are Lynne Twist’s The Soul of Money and my good friend Bari Tessler’s The Art of Money.

Think about who you could help if you had more money. Think about how you could develop and share your gifts if money weren’t an impediment. And if you feel so moved, share them in the comments section below.

Be well,


  • Joyce
    Posted at 19:00h, 23 August Reply

    This is one of the best articles on money flow I’ve ever read. Thank you!

    • Peter Borten
      Posted at 04:13h, 24 August Reply

      You’re welcome! I’m glad it spoke to you.

  • Mary Murray Shelton
    Posted at 20:27h, 23 August Reply

    Brilliantly well said, Peter; thank you! We can’t endow or support what we love and want more of when we can’t meet our own needs.

    But with wealth comes responsibility and the need for good boundaries: a strong “yes” and a strong “no.” We need to be clear about our values so that when asked to give we know whether the project is in alignment with what we value or not. Otherwise we exhaust ourselves trying to be the good guys for everyone and everything.

    Some things may not be ours to do. But one thing is certain, we can be of much more help coming from a surplus rather than an emptiness.

    • Peter Borten
      Posted at 04:16h, 24 August Reply

      These are good points, Mary. It’s especially important to recognize, as you say, that “some things may not be ours to do” – and to gracefully let ourselves off the hook, knowing that it’s all being taken care of.
      Take care,

  • Jenn
    Posted at 00:46h, 24 August Reply

    Thank you for this perfectly timed message! My family and I have had financial struggles for many years and I feel strongly that I’m doing the work that I’ve been put here to do. I’m a yoga teacher and an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist. I love helping people physically, mentally and spiritually/emotionally. I’m also a parent to 2 kids. I often wish our world did not revolve around money. I’m going to pick up the books and continue to sit with these words you’ve shared and see what comes. Thank you!

    • Peter Borten
      Posted at 04:25h, 24 August Reply

      You’re welcome, Jenn. As for the idea of our world revolving around money – it occurred to me that while urging you and other readers to allow more of it to come into your life, it might be worthwhile to clarity that my intention isn’t at all to have people’s lives “revolve” around it.
      I think we’re only hyper-focused on money when there’s something out of balance in the way we’re relating to it. When I want to have more money come into my life, I focus on the feeling of having an abundance of money, and that feeling is just calm and stable. When there’s plenty of money, you’re not thinking about it all the time – in fact, you just know there’s enough, so there’s little to think about. I wish you more of that feeling.

  • Johnny Moore
    Posted at 02:33h, 27 August Reply

    While always appreciate your point of view (and almost always agree with you), I found myself recoiling from your message about money. And, as the classic break-up line goes, “It’s not you, it’s me.” Back in my teens, I remember reading an article in which the author wrote, “Any reasonably intelligent person can get rich.” Well, I didn’t want to be rich. I wanted to be fulsome, complete, and happy with I had. And I have been – without a lot of money. Over the years, I have struggled with that push-me-pull-you: is money okay? I have seen a lot people become corrupted by money – they’re selfish, stingy, mean, and scared of not having enough. I’ve also known people who embrace money and treat it as a tool – they’re generous, conscientious, helpful, and humble. Were I to become financially rich, I would emulate those philanthropists. In the meantime, I strive to do what I can for others with what little I have. All the while recognizing that I am already rich in the blessings of family, friends, and community.

    • Peter Borten
      Posted at 16:39h, 29 August Reply

      Thanks, Johnny. I do understand where you’re coming from. As I touched on briefly, I’ve done a lot of soul searching regarding my own relationship with money and mainstream ideas around it. It sounds like the biggest hurdle for you has been the conventional notion that one *should* aspire to wealth, and I admire that you don’t accept any such “shoulds” blindly. I agree – without a purpose for it, there’s no reason to put energy into acquiring more money than one needs – and, absolutely, it would be misguided to believe that cash could be a substitute (or means to) happiness, family, or community. Nor can money wholly substitute for doing the work to make the world a better place. But most people who are working and raising a family have minimal spare time to get out there doing charity work or collecting signatures – much less to provide medical care in underserved areas or dig new wells where there isn’t enough water. But if we had the money, we could pay others to do this work – and provide someone with a job at the same time. In any case, my point wasn’t that people need to be rich in order to contribute, and certainly not that we need to be rich in order to be happy (I don’t think you took it that way), but that – especially in light of the tremendous wealth held by people who are expressly opposed to constructive change – the world could benefit greatly from more generous, enlightened people with money to spare.

  • Sarah
    Posted at 14:42h, 27 August Reply

    Thank you for this lucid and encouraging look at what’s possible and worthy of my own attention– my own sense of the good that I can do with myself as a wealthy, healthy and conscious individual. I love it. I love how you redirect the reader to the awareness of self, and cultivating the embodiment of the feeling first.

    Is there a way to easily forward this? Or message/post to FB?
    Thank you!

  • JB. Munns
    Posted at 19:56h, 01 September Reply

    Love it! Very timely with my own journey around money. And also very much in alignment with my intentions for attracting more of it into my life now. I’ve always been blessed to have my needs met, even on minimal funds. I have full faith the Universe will continue to meet those needs, so it’s with great pleasure I now spend any spare time I have day dreaming and making plans for how I wish to use an future abundance of money for humanitarian purposes. It brings me great joy in a way I never had around money when I was mainly focused on lack of, fear of, or labeling all money as evil. Thank you for putting this topic out there to aid all of us in being more conscious about our beliefs and stories around money. It’s time to free money from the bondage most of us have held it in. It’s time to see the wonderful things it can do and be when backed with an open, loving heart.

  • Peter Borten
    Posted at 04:44h, 07 September Reply

    Yes! Thank you and you’re welcome!

Post A Comment