My Mind On Money

How money affects our hearts and minds.

Archive for May 2009

President Obama Says “We Are Out Of Money”

with one comment

Sat May 23 2009 10:32:18 ET

In a sobering holiday interview with C-SPAN, President Obama boldly told Americans: "We are out of money."

C-SPAN host Steve Scully broke from a meek Washington press corps with probing questions for the new president.

SCULLY: You know the numbers, $1.7 trillion debt, a national deficit of $11 trillion. At what point do we run out of money?

OBAMA: Well, we are out of money now. We are operating in deep deficits, not caused by any decisions we've made on health care so far. This is a consequence of the crisis that we've seen and in fact our failure to make some good decisions on health care over the last several decades.

So we've got a short-term problem, which is we had to spend a lot of money to salvage our financial system, we had to deal with the auto companies, a huge recession which drains tax revenue at the same time it's putting more pressure on governments to provide unemployment insurance or make sure that food stamps are available for people who have been laid off.

So we have a short-term problem and we also have a long-term problem. The short-term problem is dwarfed by the long-term problem. And the long-term problem is Medicaid and Medicare. If we don't reduce long-term health care inflation substantially, we can't get control of the deficit.

So, one option is just to do nothing. We say, well, it's too expensive for us to make some short-term investments in health care. We can't afford it. We've got this big deficit. Let's just keep the health care system that we've got now.

Along that trajectory, we will see health care cost as an overall share of our federal spending grow and grow and grow and grow until essentially it consumes everything...

SCULLY: When you see GM though as “Government Motors,” you're reaction?

OBAMA: Well, you know – look we are trying to help an auto industry that is going through a combination of bad decision making over many years and an unprecedented crisis or at least a crisis we haven't seen since the 1930's. And you know the economy is going to bounce back and we want to get out of the business of helping auto companies as quickly as we can. I have got more enough to do without that. In the same way that I want to get out of the business of helping banks, but we have to make some strategic decisions about strategic industries...

SCULLY: States like California in desperate financial situation, will you be forced to bail out the states?

OBAMA: No. I think that what you're seeing in states is that anytime you got a severe recession like this, as I said before, their demands on services are higher. So, they are sending more money out. At the same time, they're bringing less tax revenue in. And that's a painful adjustment, what we're going end up seeing is lot of states making very difficult choices there...

SCULLY: William Howard Taft served on the court after his presidency, would you have any interest in being on the Supreme Court?

OBAMA: You know, I am not sure that I could get through Senate confirmation...


// <![CDATA[//


Written by Ilana

May 26, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Money can buy happiness… if you spend it on other people.

with one comment

Money can buy happiness… if you spend it on other people

Category: AltruismHappinessPsychologySocial science
Posted on: March 20, 2008 2:00 PM, by Ed Yong

“This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.” – Douglas Adams

Blogging on Peer-Reviewed ResearchIn this pithy paragraph, the sorely missed Douglas Adams sums up a puzzling paradox of modern life – we often link happiness to money and the spending of it, even though both proverbs and psychological surveys suggest that the two are unrelated.

Dollarbills.jpgAcross and within countries, income has an incredibly weak effect on happiness once people have enough to secure basic needs and standards of living. Once people are lifted out of abject poverty and thrown into the middle class, any extra earnings do little to improve their joie de vivre. Time trends tell a similar story; even developed countries that have enjoyed economic booms have seen plateauing levels of satisfaction.

I can’t get no… satisfcation

But a new study reveals that money can indeed buy happiness… if it’s spent on others. Elizabeth Dunn from the University of British Columbia wanted to see if there were ways of channelling the inevitable pursuit of money towards actually making people happier. Together with Lara Aknin and Michael Norton, she asked a representative group of 632 Americans to disclose their average monthly expenditure and to rate how happy they were.

She found that personal spending, including bills, living expenses and treats for oneself, made up 90% of the average outgoings but had no bearing on satisfaction. On the other hand, people who spent more money on others by way of gifts or charitable donations, were much happier for it. That either suggests that selfless spending increases happiness, or just that happier people are more likely to plump up more money for friends or charities.

Dunn sought out firmer conclusions by watching what happened to people who received an unexpected windfall. She surveyed 16 employees at a Boston firm who were given a bonus that ranged from $3,000 to $8,000. About two months later, Dunn grilled them about how they had spent the money and again, regardless of the size of the bonus, those who devoted more of their windfalls to selfless ends ended up happier, while those who splashed out on themselves did not. To paraphrase a saying, it’s not how much you have, it’s what you do with it that counts.

Finally, Dunn tested this theory through an experiment. She gave 46 people either $5 of $20, and an afternoon to spend it. Half of the lucky volunteers were told to splurge on themselves, while the other half had to buy a gift for someone else or to give the money to charity. By the evening, the charitable individuals felt happier than they did in the morning while the self-spenders did not, regardless of which bill they were given, and despite the fact that they were acting on instructions.

Hey big spender

Coins.jpgDunn’s results have far-reaching implications. For a start, they suggest that many people are seeking happiness by spending money in the way that is least likely to actually make them happy in the long run – chasing after expensive consumer goods that will give them a mere temporary fix of pleasure. The modern obsession with personal spending is rather like running on a hedonic treadmill.

And in a deeply ironic twist, the types of behaviour that allow money to buy happiness are subverted by the presence of, you guessed it, more money! Higher incomes bring greater self-sufficiency and as people start to need less help themselves, they tend to provide less for others. In psychological experiments, just the mere thought of money made people less likely to donate to charity, help acquaintances or spend time with friends, exactly the types of behaviour that are linked to happiness.

An emerging viewpoint from the science of happiness is that a persons’ circumstances in life – their income, jobs and so on – tend to have limited long-term effects on their happiness. People mentally adapt to stable situations unless they learn to actively engage with their circumstances – simply put, savour the moment or your goalposts will shift. This latest study is consistent with this idea, for it showed that the way in which money is spent has a greater bearing on contentment than how much is made.

There is a silver lining then. While Dunn’s work implies that of selfless spending is the key to happiness, it also suggests that you don’t need to pauperise yourself to do it. The experimental study suggested that paying as little $5 towards a selfless cause can result in a significant spike in happiness. Given that the volunteers in the first study only spent 10% of their earnings on other people, there is plenty of leeway for purchasing a bit of pleasure.

And if all of that seems obvious in hindsight, consider this: when Dunn asked a fresh group of 109 people about the things that would make them happiest, she found that they were, on average, doubly wrong. A majority of 63% predicted that personal spending would make them happier than selfless spending while 86% said that they would be happier with the $20 bill than the $5 one. Those are certainly the intuitive answers, but they are not the empirical ones. Which would you believe?

Reference: Dunn, E.W., Aknin, L.B., Norton, M.I. (2008). Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness. Science, 319(5870), 1687-1688. DOI: 10.1126/science.1150952

Further reading: Anyone interested in the science of happiness absolutely has to read Daniel Gilbert’s superb book, Stumbling on Happiness – it’s eye-opening and immensely readable.

Written by Ilana

May 15, 2009 at 1:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Mayan Calendar on the Economy May 9-11, 2009

with one comment

Please feel free to post, translate and accurately reproduce in any form.
The Rebirth Celebration
May 9-11, 2009

In May 2009 a major emanation from the Hunab-Ku, an unfathomably large
intelligence in the center of the universe according to Mayan Cosmology, will
inform a magnificent birth of cosmic proportions. This epoch period, the Mid-
Point of the Sixth Day of the Galactic Underworld, gives humanity an
unprecedented opportunity to cooperate with the forces of evolution to fulfill
individual and collective purposes, and to create a sustainable world of harmony,
abundance and balance with Nature. As with any birth, there is also death…death
of that which is no longer supported by these new evolutionary energies. This
article provides the background for this paradoxically auspicious and ominous
moment, and what we can do personally and collectively to consciously
participate in it.
Two articles follow:
1. The Rebirth Celebration – The midpoint of the Sixth DAY of the Galactic
Underworld, May 9-11, 2009
by Carl Johan Calleman.
2. The Inner Dimensions of Cosmic Rebirth – The ecology of choice and
transformation in a rapidly changing world,
by Joseph R. Giove. where info about the global meditation is found.
The Rebirth Celebration – The midpoint of the Sixth DAY of the Galactic
Underworld, May 9-11, 2009

by Carl Johan Calleman
To understand our current situation according to the Mayan calendar I believe it
is necessary to first backtrack somewhat and look at what has happened at the most important
of the recent shift points of the Galactic Underworld (see Figure 1). A very important such
was the beginning of the fifth NIGHT, November 19, 2007. In my book The Mayan calendar
and the Transformation of Consciousness, written in 2003, I ended the discussion about
economy (page 233) with a prediction relating to this point in time: “Regardless of what
forms such a [financial] collapse may take it seems that the best bet is for it to occur close to
the time that the Fifth NIGHT begins, in November 2007 [strictly speaking the 19th].” This
prediction was based on the fact that throughout cosmic history the fifth NIGHT has been a
time when the old order often has come to be destroyed. Today, as economists agree that the
global economic recession started in December of 2007, (see Figure 2) we can in retrospect
see how amazingly accurate predictions may be if they are based on the true Mayan calendar.
Even if predictions from it are not cut in stone it will nonetheless tell us what time periods
that are conducive to certain activities and frames of mind.

A second very important shift point came with the beginning of the sixth DAY –
November 12, 2008 – when, with the election of Obama as president of the US a week earlier,
an energy of rebirth can be said to have manifested. This is also what had been predicted to
begin at that particular time, which is symbolized by Yohalticitl, the goddess of birth. Barack
Obama notably happens to be born on the Mayan day-sign 9 Ben, which is identical to the
birthday of the United States, July 4, 1776, and thus plays a significant role in the history of
this particular nation, in that he thus creates a full circle. His intentions to rule with
transparency and with a more friendly and egalitarian relationship to other nations is certainly
a welcome contrast to several of his predecessors. A sense of rebirth of ethical values has thus
surrounded him creating an opening for a global unity on a larger scale.
We may however notice that the economy did not turn up again as the sixth DAY
began. Why this was so can be understood on different levels. One is the economic in that the
means of continuing the economic growth through expanding credit probably now have been
exhausted. Everyone who takes a loan knows that this means taking resources from the future
and the limits to how far this can be pushed have now been reached. Another level of
understanding is that of the cosmic plan where we are now in the Galactic Underworld, which
does not have economic and technological development as its primary purpose. On the contrary,
the Galactic Underworld is about broadening the human horizon to a holistic viewpoint where
we show concern for all of creation and the whole planet, which the world’s economic system
has increasingly come in conflict with. We thus have reasons to seriously ask if the world will
ever again experience a prolonged period of economic growth although the media keep talking
about when the recession will end and the bankers and rulers of the world, Obama included, are
taking measures that they say are to this effect.
What is now being tried in order to reactivate the growth economy is then to give
the bankers tax-payer money so that they can lend the same money back to the tax-payers that
they got it from. This may sound like a joke. Yet, the fact that so many have accepted this as
necessary, and too complex for regular people to understand, shows how great the faith in the
old ways still are. The reason the majority of people take it for granted that there will again be a
period of economic growth some time in the future is that they were born into the Planetary
Underworld. And indeed, if we study the wave movement of the Planetary Underworld that had
the dominating effect on our consciousness between AD 1755 and AD 1999, we can see that
economic growth periods alternated with recessions as a direct function of its shifts between
DAYS and NIGHTS. DAYS meant upturns and NIGHTS downturns in the industrial economy. This
very wave movement of the Planetary Underworld was however exactly what was transcended by
the fifth NIGHT of the Galactic Underworld that began November 19, 2007. Will it then really in
the current situation be possible for anyone to reactivate the growth economy? I personally do
not think that this is the case except maybe for in limited sectors and to limited degrees. The
decline will maybe slow down somewhat in this sixth DAY, but is likely to be intensified around
the time the sixth NIGHT begins around November 7, 2009. The purpose of the current Galactic
Underworld is thus different from that of the Planetary and is primarily to introduce
relationships in the world based on a holistic global and egalitarian mindset, manifested in
balanced relations between genders, nations, races and religions across the planet (and actually
across the universe, but we know little about this). If we like we may thus look upon the whole
Bush era as blocking this consciousness from manifesting.
Thus, while I feel that we are under the influence of the energies of the Mayan
calendar (otherwise predictions would not have been possible) I also feel that our choices and
the choices of different rulers influence how they manifest. Thus, certain policies of the Bush era
might for instance have aggravated the situation. Regardless, I feel there is every reason to
predict considerable hardships for many individuals who may lose their jobs, private economies
and homes at the current time and the many, who in the time to come are likely to be faced with
similar circumstances. An observer from a different planet may however look upon this also
from a somewhat different perspective. He or she may look upon the end to the incessant growth
economy as a sign that there is some hope that the planetary cancer is starting to recede and that
there is some hope that humanity will actually survive and fulfill its purpose. In such a
perspective we may look upon it as if the cosmic plan has now set in a protective mechanism for
the Earth, since one thing we can be certain of is that if the growth economy does not come to an
end then the world will come to an end. No one may be able to tell whether this would happen
because of global warming, depletion of life in the oceans, destruction of the rainforests, the
disappearance of the bees or something else. In fact, we do not really need to know what would
trigger such a collapse of the planetary ecosystem, since the point to realize is that none of these
threats to our environment can be looked upon in isolation from the others. They all have a
common origin in an economy that for a long time has been based on incessant growth and now
the frame of consciousness carried by the Galactic Underworld is forcing us to face the
consequences of this.
I feel this means that in the years ahead we may expect to be faced with very
difficult dilemmas on a personal level that usually do not have simple resolutions: “If I do not
take care of myself, who will? Yet, if I do not care for the larger whole, who am I?” We may of
course put the blame for the downturn of the economy on the bankers and others, who created
the economy that led us to live off the resources of the future. This however does not change
very much, and it is also probably difficult to find someone who in one way or another did not to
some extent benefit from this in a material sense. Thus, with few exceptions human beings have
not voluntarily been willing to set an end to the growth.
What then is there to do in this situation we may ask? If the economy will never
start to grow again, what will emerge in its place? Many realize that what needs to happen is a
transition to a sustainable economy, something that humanity has not experienced for some
5000 years. This would mean a return to a non-dualist Garden of Eden in balance with the
environment at a new and higher level, a transition that many will probably find very difficult and
almost incomprehensible to grasp mentally speaking. We may for instance take note of the fact
that no world leader or economist is currently advocating a shift to an economy that is
sustainable. So far, few have even started to consider that there will be no upturn in the economy,
and when this starts to dawn on people we may in fact come to witness all kinds of actions of
desperation and social unrest taking somewhat different forms in different cultures. Many
hierarchical structures are likely to collapse.
Will a sustainable economy then emerge? Well, there is no answer to this in the
Mayan calendar, simply because it depends on the choices people will make in the time ahead
and what they focus on creating. In the perspective of such a collective choice determining the
future of humanity, it however seems plain silly when you hear people claim that the Mayan
calendar predicts the end of the world from pole shifts, asteroids, natural disasters, sunspots or
other physical events outside of ourselves. The reality is that the Mayan calendar describes the
evolution of consciousness and for the future does not predict anything except for what
emanates, directly or indirectly, from the human beings themselves. Another way of saying the
same thing is that there are no “consciousness shifts” happening on this planet outside of
ourselves. The exact time of the downturn of the economy was predictable from the Mayan
calendar for the very reason that this was a result of human behavior that is conditioned by the
resonance with the Cosmic Tree of Life. The Cosmic Tree of Life, according to Mayan, and
other ancient traditions is an unfathomably large intelligence, Hunab-Ku, at the center of the
universe that makes quantum jumps at critical shift points in the calendar. The existence of such
a central axis of the universe has recently (2003) been discovered by science, which I believe to
be one of the most consequential discoveries of all time and elaborate on in the forthcoming The
Purposeful Universe (Inner Traditions, December 2009). It is the energies emanating from this
Cosmic Tree of Life that serve to synchronize evolution on all levels of the universe. It is
through our own resonance with this, and with its quantum shifts, that we are inspired to create
our world in accordance with the wave movements of seven DAYS and six NIGHTS in the cosmic
From this perspective the talk of a predetermined “doomsday,” as presented by
the History Channel or in upcoming Hollywood movies, simply seems absurd for anyone
knowledgeable about the Mayan calendar. Such thinking merely serves to instill fear and to
deflect our attention from the real issues at hand. Even if it may be true that the world may come
to an end if we are not able to successfully transit to a sustainable economy, this would not be
because of any preset “doomsday”. Such a disaster would instead be something that humanity
has collectively (with some having greater responsibility than others) brought upon itself. If
anything it would be caused by how we have ignored the message of the Mayan calendar, which
is that we are meant to transit to a state of peace in oneness. Projections of fears or dreams onto
a Y2K date in the future is a way of thinking that I believe is very disempowering and removes
the responsibility for the course of events from our actions in the present moment.
To avoid such projections I feel it is necessary to ground our intentions and
actions in the changing energies of the Mayan calendar that we are living through in the present
moment and look at what kind of intentions these may empower in us now. Our understanding
of these may be based on parallels between different Underworlds such as the exact prediction
of the time for the beginning of the economic decline. This was based on the analogy with the
year 1932, the beginning of the Fifth NIGHT of the Planetary Underworld, which meant the
beginning of the Great Depression on a global scale. With the same reasoning of making
parallels between different Underworlds we may now also look at our current situation as we
approach the midpoint of the sixth DAY of the Galactic Underworld on May 11, 2009 (10 Ahau)
and its continuation into its second half until November 7, 2009. The shift date is a parallel to the
year 1962 (which was the midpoint of the sixth DAY of the Planetary Underworld) and the
second half to the time period 1962-1972. We may then want to recall what happened during
this time period. 1962 was the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis, a shift point from which the
Cold War would start to thaw and the year later the Beatles phenomenon exploded. I was
privileged to be in England at the time and experience this first hand before it went on to most of
Europe and later to the US. The point here is of course not to emphasize the musical
phenomenon as such, but that this was the beginning of an intense wave of novelty that would
create a tremendous cultural rebirth and social experimentation that in the years ahead would
sweep the world from Mai 68 in France to Flower power, hippies and the peace movement in the
US. This movement had distinct characters in different countries, and yet was very much
globally synchronized in time. It was carried by a desire to test new ways of being outside of the
control of the “establishment” in every area of life and no authority was taken for granted. We
may today look upon some its expressions as excesses, such as for instance the cultural
revolution in China, but the fact remains that our current world still owes much of its
egalitarianism and openness to what was created in this era.
Needless to say, the world today is very different from 1962 and if nothing else it
is dominated by another Underworld, where economic growth is constrained. Yet, it seems to me
that this kind of an experimental attitude is exactly what is needed at the present time when a
chief challenge is a grass roots creation of a sustainable economy. Any time of crisis fosters new
creativity, which may take many forms of self-organizing collectives that escape the dominance
of the ruling hierarchies. Moreover, if the downturn in the economy was predictable based on the
Mayan calendar we have reasons to suspect that an intensified grass roots creativity will be
supported by the Tree of Life in the time ahead. It has already become clear that in the current
situation the old ways do not work for people in general and that something new will have to
emerge. I feel if we do not understand this now, it will definitely be clear during the sixth NIGHT,
November 7, 2009 to November 2, 2010, that the return to a growth economy is not possible.
There might then come a point when the US government sees it necessary to declare a global
moratorium on debts, at least to major financial institutions, something that would decrease
hardships, and at the same time mean a major step towards a sustainable economy. For these
reason we are inviting you to participate in a global meditation on May 9-11 to focus on the
creation of a sustainable economy for the first time in 5000 years. This is an intention that
millions of people share, but it is an altogether different matter to see it transcend the growth
economy on a global scale.
What we can do is in meditation to look at who we need to be for this to happen. I
also believe that the increasing awareness of the Cosmic Tree of Life, currently shared only by a
very small minority of the Earth’s population, will help to create the increased compassion that
will be much needed as humanity seeks new ways of sharing resources, jobs etc. Thus a spirit of
sharing, collaboration and compassion needs to color the global meditation at the midpoint of the
Sixth DAY, May 9-11, 2009. If the new ways do not embody such a compassion and
collaboration they are simply likely to reproduce the old. A global meditation clearly does not by
itself solve the problems of mankind. But it does help! By focusing on connecting with the
Cosmic Tree of Life, which in Mayan and other ancient myths are behind the different eras
humanity is living through, we may help create the necessary compassion to fulfill our own
purpose as this attains its highest state on the energy of 13 Ahau on October 28, 2011. In a
global meditation we may focus on inspiring the grass root creativity that will be needed to
transit to a sustainable Garden of Eden that on my own part I am convinced is the purpose of the
cosmic plan.
Carl Johan Calleman,
Seattle, 9 Reed (April 14, 2009)

The Inner Dimensions of Cosmic Rebirth;
The ecology of choice and transformation in a rapidly changing world.

By Joseph R. Giove
The Rebirth Celebration, May 9th through 11th 2009, will be a global
collaborative of people who share compassion as a common passion. We will
unite our collective wisdom and power to welcome a new cosmic birth, indicated by
this key period revealed in the Mayan Calendar. In 2004, we co-created the
Harmonic Concordance. In 2007 we honored and celebrated the Divine Feminine
is us and the world at the Mid-Point of the Fifth Day through the Breakthrough
Celebration. Last year on the Summer Solstice we invited the Sacred Union of the
Divine Feminine and Masculine within us in the Gathering of One, the Global
Eden event. Now we are honored to celebrate the birth of something new and
unimagined in years past. We celebrate the Rebirth of the Divine Plan in creation
and in us. Please join us by going to and learning
The primary focus of current affairs seems to be the global economic meltdown and
global warming, two very apt metaphors for our time. These also have correspondences in our
personal lives: lost jobs and homes, large-scale failure of systems we’ve relied on for modern
conveniences and our livelihood, diminishing future prospects for economic growth, fear of
biospheric collapse, and a general malaise with the state of the world.
Yet, as Carl discusses above, forward movement now in evolution is in the realm of
consciousness; it is our consciousness that is evolving, as well as the consciousness of all life. In
view of this, we are served also by looking at the inner dimensions of these outer changes. Here
we may find not only solace and a place of spiritual grounding, but also solid footing on the path
moving us consciously and gracefully through these exciting times, which are pregnant with
possibilities and opportunities.
The current warming of the planet and the melting of the economy are clear results of the
consciousness that informed the human activity that led to these conditions: 1) In terms of global
warming, consciousness that is disconnected from and dispassionate to its impact on the
environment; 2) In terms of the economy, a consciousness disconnected from and
disempowered of its own value in relationship to its environment. So while on the surface these
may seem like unrelated phenomenon, the reality is a deep relatedness that has holistic
implications especially relevant for the times. Fortunately however, as Carl points out,
“consciousness” is changing and evolving; it is being directed by cosmic forces embedded deep
in the central Intelligence of the universe, which some may call God, G-d, Allah, Brahman,
Universal Intelligence, Great Spirit or Hunab-Ku. This Intelligence is holographically nested in
each of us. It is now calling us to rely on “It” and consciously co-operate with evolution.
We can look out through It…and to It, and become awed, gracious and humbled by
Beauty, Truth, Grace, Harmony, Abundance, Divine Balance and Love. Or we can obscure It by
focusing on the distorted creations and lesser manifestations of humankind, which resulted from
a fragmented, separatist, greedy, self-absorbed consciousness. Fortunately, our consciousness is
evolving holistically by the Grace of G-d – by these cosmic emanations – and we do not have to
contemplate a future that is a mere extrapolation from the past. In fact, one of the more
profound insights from the genius and insight of the Mayans is this: the energies that give rise
to our manifested world change along a divine plan with which we can consciously align, and
that by doing so, we move into greater perfection with the divine plan. In other words, the world
that was is not what informs a new world. What informs a new world and our new lives are
powerful forces continually emanating from the inter-dimensional, creative core and Intelligence
of the universe. The Big Bang should no longer be perceived as solely a historic event; rather, it
is also the ultimate present moment, THE Holy Moment: the perpetual bringing forth of new
Light from the Creative Heart and Mind of the living universe. By creating resonance with that
Heart-Mind, we cooperate and thus quicken the cosmic plan of creation. This will be the core
shared intention of the Rebirth Celebration Concordance: I AM resonating with the Creative
Heart-Mind of the Living Universe. I AM the Creative Heart-Mind of the Living Universe.
Inhale while looking up through the brow: I AM resonating with the Creative Heart-Mind of
the Living Universe.
Exhale and smile: I AM the Creative Heart-Mind of the Living Universe.
Those who focus on what’s falling away, melting, dissolving – on what is no longer
supported by new evolutionary energies – may become despondent, fearful, scarce in their
thinking, jealous of opportunities, possessive of their resources, and mindless to the
consequences of their actions on others and on the environment. This is the very behavior that is
no longer supported by the underlying evolutionary impulses. Any system of a personal, social,
economic, political, educational, commercial or medical nature that was based on features of
scarcity, separatism, greed, domination, control, imbalance, force, conflict, etc. have lost their
energetic foundation and are dissolving back into the void as we speak. Amen and, respectfully,
good riddance.
What is emerging now…what is being supported by the new evolutionary energies are
people creating systems based on collaboration, harmony, the implicit abundance of nature,
egalitarian awareness, the explicit and indelible nature of interrelatedness, interdependency and
interconnection. We may look around us with innocent eyes and joyously behold:
• a massive proliferation of social networking that has infiltrated all aspects of
society and commerce;
• technology enabling collaboration that crosses geopolitical, economic and
ideological lines;
• a massive “greening” movement that is increasing awareness of our impact on the
environment, with inspiring and creative programs being developed around the
world to restore our balance with nature;
• free and sustainable sources of energy that are slowly making their way into the
common awareness;
• new partnerships forming between long-time competitors;
• software being developed “free” by global communities of programmers in “open
source” models;
• ideas being shared and new economic models proliferating in communities around
the world, giving rise to alternative forms of currencies and exchange of value
between individuals without requiring a central bank or government to control…or
to demand a toll from each of us for the pleasure of their exploitation;
• humanity collectively solving stubborn problems like hunger, poverty and
contagious diseases without waiting for governments or other political systems.
These holistic, collaborative, more balanced, more ecologically aligned creations are
themselves an out-picturing of the new human consciousness informing these worldly
innovations. However, being focused on the dissolution of old systems may blind us to these
new emergent properties and to the magical nature of our times. This blindedness will inevitably
disempower us and prohibit our eyes-wide-open involvement. It will stop us from asking
pertinent questions, the answers of which will ignite our own personal fulfillment and purpose
now. Questions like: What are the characteristics of this new evolutionary wave that is impinging
on my inner nature? What is the deeper meaning of global warming, economics, increasing
novelty and accelerating time from an interior, self-reflective point of view…the “inner ecology”
of personal transformation? How can I best serve this unfoldment for my personal and
community welfare? How can I quicken my own alignment with these new and exciting
transformational energies being released upon the planet now?
What was once viewed as paradoxical or oxymoronic can now make sense and be
seen or felt in the higher light of multidimensional awareness. Now is the time we’ve been
waiting for. It’s not in 2012 or some other imaginary date in the future. It’s about now; it is now.
This is what the Rebirth Celebration is about on May 9, 10 and 11 of 2009. Leading
up to this grand celebration and the global meditation/prayer/concordance is a dialogue
occurring in the discussion forum. Here we access the collective
wisdom, creativity and genius to answer the above questions, and this one: ¨What is being
birthed?!” Ultimately the answers are in the living of our lives, which we do consciously,
intentionally and collectively together as we navigate this magnificent shift of the ages.
Joseph R. Giove
San Francisco, April 14, 2009 (9 Reed)
Executive Director
Intention * Concordance * Harmony

Written by Ilana

May 12, 2009 at 12:29 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Why money messes with your mind

with one comment

an article published by NEW SCIENTIST: Science in Society

Find out what science can tell us about the credit crunch – and how to solve it – in our special feature

Dough, wonga, greenbacks, cash. Just words, you might say, but they carry an eerie psychological force. Chew them over for a few moments, and you will become a different person. Simply thinking about words associated with money seems to makes us more self-reliant and less inclined to help others. And it gets weirder: just handling cash can take the sting out of social rejection and even diminish physical pain.

This is all the stranger when you consider what money is supposed to be. For economists, it is nothing more than a tool of exchange that makes economic life more efficient. Just as an axe allows us to chop down trees, money allows us to have markets that, traditional economists tell us, dispassionately set the price of anything from a loaf of bread to a painting by Picasso. Yet money stirs up more passion, stress and envy than any axe or hammer ever could. We just can’t seem to deal with it rationally… but why?

Our relationship with money has many facets. Some people seem addicted to accumulating it, while others can’t help maxing out their credit cards and find it impossible to save for a rainy day. As we come to understand more about money’s effect on us, it is emerging that some people’s brains can react to it as they would to a drug, while to others it is like a friend. Some studies even suggest that the desire for money gets cross-wired with our appetite for food. And, of course, because having a pile of money means that you can buy more things, it is virtually synonymous with status – so much so that losing it can lead to depression and even suicide. In these cash-strapped times, perhaps an insight into the psychology of money can improve the way we deal with it.

Relative values

Even as a simple medium of exchange, money can take a bewildering variety of forms, from the strips of bark and feathers of old, through gold coins, pound notes and dollar bills to data in a bank’s computer – mostly cold, unemotional stuff. The value of £100 is supposed to lie in how much beer or fuel it can purchase and nothing else. You should care no more about being short-changed £5 at the supermarket checkout than losing the same amount when borrowing money to buy a £300,000 house. Similarly, you should value £10 in loose change the same as £10 in your bank account that you’ve mentally set aside for your niece’s birthday.

In reality we are not that rational. Instead of treating cash simply as a tool to be wielded with objective precision, we allow money to reach inside our heads and tap into the ancient emotional parts of our brain, often with unpredictable results. To understand how this affects our behaviour, some economists are starting to think more like evolutionary anthropologists.

Daniel Ariely of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of them. He suggests that modern society presents us with two distinct sets of behavioural rules. There are the social norms, which are “warm and fuzzy” and designed to foster long-term relationships, trust and cooperation. Then there is a set of market norms, which revolve around money and competition, and encourage individuals to put their own interests first.

Economic exchange has been going on throughout human history, so it is possible that our ancestors evolved an instinctive capacity for recognising the difference between situations suited to social or market norms, and that this could have developed well before the invention of money. Alternatively, we may learn the distinction.

Either way, we appear immediately and subconsciously to recognise the cues associated with the realm of market norms. Experiments published in 2007 reveal that even a passing contact with concepts linked to money puts us into a market-oriented mentality, making us think and behave in characteristic ways.

Kathleen Vohs in the department of marketing at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and colleagues, first got student volunteers to complete a task in which they had to make sensible phrases either from a set of words that had nothing to do with money (such as “cold”, “desk” or “outside”) or from money-related words (including “salary”, “cost” or “paying”). Then they asked individuals from the two groups to arrange a set of discs into a particular pattern.

The researchers found that the volunteers who had been primed with the money-related words worked on the task for longer before asking for help. In a related experiment, people in the money-word group were also significantly less likely to help a fellow student who asked for assistance than were people in the group primed with non-money words (Science, vol 314, p 1154).

Split personalities

Vohs suggests there is a simple dynamic at work here. “Money makes people feel self-sufficient,” she says. “They are more likely to put forth effort to attain personal goals, and they also prefer to be separate from others.” The touchy-feely social side of us may disapprove of such behaviour but it is useful for survival. This ability to assess which set of norms applies in a particular situation is important in guiding our behaviour, Ariely says. It allows you to avoid expecting too much trust in the midst of a competitive business negotiation, for example, or making the mistake of offering to pay your mother-in-law after she has cooked you a nice meal. “When we keep social norms and market norms on separate paths, life hums along pretty well,” says Ariely. “But when they collide, trouble sets in.”

The trick is to get the correct balance between these two mindsets. Numerous psychological studies have found a general trade-off between the pursuit of so-called extrinsic aspirations – such as wealth, but also fame and image – and intrinsic aspirations, such as building and maintaining strong personal relationships. People who report a focus on the former score low on indicators of mental health, and those strongly motivated by money are also more likely to find their marriage ending in divorce.

This is not to say that we shouldn’t focus at all on extrinsic aspirations. Everyone needs money for those parts of their lives governed by market norms, and it’s well known that financial strain can bring depression, perceived loss of control and reduced life expectancy (see “Buy into happiness”).

Now that the days of easy credit and rampant consumerism appear to be over, for the time being at least, it would be nice to think that we might acquire a more balanced relationship with money. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to be that simple. One reason why is exposed by Vohs’s latest findings, which reveal another peculiar aspect of our mental relationship with money.

In a study to be published soon in the journal Psychological Science, Vohs and psychologists Xinyue Zhou of Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, China, and Roy Baumeister of Florida State University, Tallahassee, found that people who felt rejected by others, or were subjected to physical pain, were subsequently less likely to give a monetary gift in a game situation. The researchers then went on to show that just handling paper money could reduce the distress associated with social exclusion, and also diminish the physical pain caused by touching very hot water.

“Money seems to have symbolic power as a social resource,” says Vohs. “It enables people to manipulate the social system to give them what they want, regardless of whether they are liked.” Put bluntly, it looks as if money is acting as a surrogate friend. Could that explain why some people focus on extrinsic aspirations at the expense of real social relationships?

Psychologists Stephen Lea at the University of Exeter, UK, and Paul Webley at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, have suggested another reason for unhealthy and obsessive attitudes to money. They believe that it acts on our minds rather like an addictive drug, giving it the power to drive some of us to compulsive gambling, overwork or obsessive spending (Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol 29, p 161). “It is an interesting possibility that all these are manifestations of a broader addiction to money,” says Lea. Compulsion appears to be a problem for people with several money-related disorders which are increasingly being identified by psychologists (see “Money problems”).

Lea and Webley propose that money, like nicotine or cocaine, can activate the brain’s pleasure centres, the neurological pathways that make biologically beneficial activities such as sex feel so rewarding. Of course, money does not physically enter the brain but it might work in a similar way to pornographic text, argue Lea and Webley, which can cause arousal not by giving any biochemical or physiological stimuli, but by acting through the mind and emotions.

Some evidence for the notion of “addiction” to money comes from brain imaging studies. In one experiment, for example, a team led by Samuel McClure, a psychologist at Princeton University, asked volunteers to choose between receiving a voucher for right then, or a higher-value one a few weeks later. Those who chose the instant reward showed brain activity in the areas linked with emotion, especially the limbic system, which is known to be involved in much impulsive behaviour and drug addiction. Those choosing the delayed reward showed activity in areas such as the prefrontal cortex known to be involved in rational planning (Science, vol 306, p 503).

The idea that money taps into brain circuits evolved to make biologically important activities rewarding is given a further boost by another strange discovery. In an attempt to provide an evolutionary explanation for our motivation to strive for money in present-day societies, Barbara Briers of the HEC business school in Paris, France, and colleagues decided to test whether our appetite for cash is directly related to our appetite for food.

They made three discoveries: hungry volunteers were less likely to donate to charity than those who were satiated; those primed to have a high desire for money, by having imagined winning a big lottery, went on to eat the most candy in a taste test; and people whose appetites had been piqued by sitting in a room with a delicious smell, gave less money in a game situation than those who played in a normal-smelling room (Psychological Science, vol 17, p 939). Briers reckons this indicates that our brain processes ideas about money using the same pathways evolved to think about food, so that in our minds the two are synonymous. If she is correct, it puts a whole new spin on the term “greedy bankers”.

Hungry people are less likely to donate money to charity than those who are satiated

We are still a long from knowing why some people appear to go crazy over money, while others seem to pay it so little attention. Those chasing after it to the exclusion of almost everything else aren’t necessarily “addictive”. Some may be greedy, and others just needy – thirsty for status or using money to compensate for social shortcomings. What is clear is that money – supposedly a dispassionate tool of exchange – stirs up big emotions and mental strife. It’s time economists’ models took this into account.

Find out what science can tell us about the credit crunch – and how to solve it – in our special feature

Buy into happiness

People with more money tend to be happier than those with less – but only up to a point. That is the conclusion of psychologists Ed Diener at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Martin Seligman of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, who have reviewed numerous studies looking at the psychological effects of wealth. They report that money’s impact on happiness suffers from diminishing returns: once you have enough for food and shelter, more cash doesn’t bring much extra joy (Psychological Science in the Public Interest, vol 5, p 1).

Nevertheless, unless you are already rolling in it, you might want to carry on buying the odd lottery ticket. When Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick, UK, and Jonathan Gardner of business consultancy Watson Wyatt Worldwide quizzed a random sample of British citizens who had won lottery prizes wins of between £1000 and £120,000, they found indicators of significantly better mental health than in non-winners or those who won very small prizes (Journal of Health Economics, vol 26, p 49). The researchers believe that acquiring extra capital left people less worried about their financial lives, and so less stressed and therefore less prone to stress-related illnesses. The extra cash may not have bought happiness directly, but it certainly gave winners something to smile about.

Even without a windfall, though, you can get more joy for your buck if you are careful how you spend it. Ryan Howell of San Francisco State University and colleagues asked volunteers questions about their recent purchases. The researchers found that people reported “experiential purchases”, such as trips to the theatre or travel, as bringing them more happiness than material purchases such as clothes. A concrete purchase may have cost more and lasted longer but a good experience brought more pleasure.

How to master mental accounting

Spending too much on your credit card? Try freezing it – literally. Drop it in a glass of water and put it in the freezer, then when you get the urge to splurge you will have to let the ice thaw, by which time your sanity should have prevailed. According to Richard Thaler, an economist at the University of Chicago, tricks like this are a useful way to counter our brain’s irrational financial tendencies. These arise, Thaler believes, because our psychological biases cause us to put money into different “mental accounts” and to think of the contents of each in a different way.

Credit freeze

Adding £50 to a credit card bill already in the thousands seems far less extravagant than paying out £50 cash for a meal. Anyone with a credit card appreciates the truth of this. Indeed, it has been shown that people paying with plastic are less able to remember how much they spent than those paying with cash. As Thaler points out, credit cards act as “decoupling devices”, separating the pleasure of the purchase from the pain of payment, which gets pushed into the foggy future. Freezing your card gives you a chance to overcome this emotional pull and act rationally.

In his book Nudge, co-authored with legal scholar Cass Sunstein, also at the University of Chicago, Thaler identifies other irrational biases that lead to distortions in our mental accounting. Almost all of us, for example, are “loss averse” – it hurts more to lose £50 than it feels good to win £50. We also value money in relative rather than absolute terms – we consider £10 irrelevant when buying a house but not when paying for a meal. Similarly, finding £100 will give many people more pleasure than having a heating bill cut from £950 to £835, even though this gains them more in real terms.

We also have a well-known bias in favour of a little money now over more money later, which makes saving so difficult. Thaler has suggested – and many companies are now using – a scheme called “Save more later” that puts this bias to work. Employees can commit themselves to putting more money into their retirement savings in future years, rather than doing it now. It seems to work for the same reason that we are lured by offers of “no payments for the first year”, but in a more beneficial way.

Knowing about mental accounting offers some insight into how we might handle money difficulties and the pain that comes with them. Thaler’s tip for saving is to take money from the mental category of “loose change”. Instead of writing a cheque for £1000 to be deposited in a savings account, he says, it is far less painful and can be just as effective to continually round up our purchases – thinking of an item costing £22.50 as costing £30, say – and then saving the balance.

Another economist has a trick for taking the sting out of costs associated with car troubles or other unforeseen expenses. He sets aside a lump sum at the beginning of each year and mentally earmarks it “donations to charity”. If any unexpected bills arise, he pays them from that fund, which in his mind is already gone, and donates whatever is left in December.

Daniel Ariely from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has come up with a more ambitious plan. He suggests we should all be able to add categories to our credit cards to which we can apply suitable limits: no more than £50 for a meal out, say, or £300 annually on shoes. It may not come as a surprise that he has yet to persuade any bank that this is a good idea.

Mark Buchanan is a writer based in Cambridge, UK

Written by Ilana

May 8, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Posted in Uncategorized