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Creating Prosperity in Changing Economic Times Part 1: Cultivating True Wealth

“The Law of Attraction” has become a mainstream topic of talk telling us that anything is possible if we just change our mind. Meanwhile the world is undergoing the worst economic downturn in most of our memories. Never before have such widely divergent realities of hope and fear pulled at us. Those of us willing to entertain New Thought ideas of limitlessness may still find ourselves drawn into the collective experience of scarcity as the crashing economy and mass panic make “changing our mind” no easy feat. Practicing popular prosperity techniques without addressing the season of growth our world is in can backfire, like trying to plant a garden in the middle of a snow storm.

There are ways to work with times of apparent scarcity that aren’t rooted in fear and actually help build energy for a leap into new abundance and growth. What’s more, when we successfully rise above the collective wave of fear, not only do we create personal prosperity, but our increase is rooted in love. Then, instead of prospering on the backs of others, we create a healing ripple that raises others up with us.

There are ways to work with times of apparent scarcity that aren’t rooted in fear and actually help build energy for a leap into new abundance and growth. What’s more, when we successfully rise above the collective wave of fear, not only do we create personal prosperity, but our increase is rooted in love. Then, instead of prospering on the backs of others, we create a healing ripple that raises others up with us.

But, while there is a plethora of New Thought teachings on how to separate ourselves from the collective experience and create our own personal prosperity, I believe it’s important first to acknowledge how we’re part of the collective, and as such, had a part in bringing about the current experience of financial crisis. It’s not hard to see how the attitude of “Me first” got us into our current situation but it may be harder to recognize that “Me” consciousness isn’t the exclusive purview of billionaires and corporations. Neither is it simply a matter of overt greed and malevolence. Its more subtle manifestations include all the ways we get so caught up in ourselves that we have nothing left for the world around us. It might look like depression, or getting absorbed in worries and survival fears, or becoming so busy with the demands of life that there’s no attention left for kindness or caring; it might look like stubborn self-sufficiency that forgets others might be there to help if we could just bring ourselves to reach out.

As “Me” consciousness got us into crisis, “We” consciousness will take us out. Just as the 1980’s made personal ambition and wealth chic, I foresee the next decade will bring into vogue compassion and relatedness, not dollar signs. The New Age success techniques that were popularized in the eighties, from affirmation work to creative visualization need some updating. These times call for something more than simply locking ourselves away with our vision boards and copies of The Secret, intent on achieving our personal wealth. I think the strength of the collective experience right now is calling us to have a collective experience. Prosperity in this era must come through cooperation, collaboration and community rather than through personal advancement. Interdependence is the new path to prosperity.

Having a network of support and interdependence requires the investment of timeÑsomething many of us in today’s fast-paced world believe we simply don’t have to give. When individuals believe they have no time for quality-of-life priorities, they may well unconsciously “resolve” the dilemma by manifesting a physical illness that forces new choices and a slower pace. On a macrocosmic scale, when we collectively can’t find time for the human interaction that nourishes heart and soul, perhaps we’ve unwittingly “solved” the problem by disappearing jobs and other financial supports that keep us locked in self-sufficiency, so that we have no choice but to rely on one another.

An obvious payoff to the financial downturn is that it’s inspiring people to appreciate what we still have without money. Over the 2008 Christmas holidays, I was surprised by how many people I encountered, including those whose finances haven’t been directly affected, who chose to dispense with lavish gift-giving traditions and, like “the Who’s down in Whoville” created a holiday based simply on being together.

That we all had a part in creating the circumstances of today isn’t a cause for shame but a call to action. As a move toward prosperity, instead of focusing on your wealth and self-sufficiency, consider the richness of your personal community. What is your experience of interdependence? Who’s there for you emotionally, spiritually and in times of need? Who’s there when you celebrate? Who can you rely on? Who are you there for? If self-sufficiency has triumphed over interrelatedness in your life, consider giving your greatest resource, your time and caring, toward nurturing relationships. Find those people with whom you can give and receive, accomplish more together than separately, have fun without spending money; and be fully yourself. It may seem costly to find the time and not relevant to the goal of prosperity at all yet, in the long run, it may be the wisest investment of your life.

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