How real are your money problems?

Money. It’s nothing but printed paper or stamped metal. Its value is made up. It's more convenient than trading goods, a streamlined exchange of energy.

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It’s also a tool that we elevate into something so colossal, substantial, and valuable that it seems to radiate power; its own magnetic energy that we're either sucked towards or repelled from. And yet its worth is an abstraction that we each create for ourselves.

Last week I drove into Boston to meet a friend for lunch. Instead of driving around looking for the elusive available street space, I opted for a parking garage. I found one that was $31 for the first 3 hours and $42 for 3-6 hours. I had been hoping for $25 so the $31 seemed a little high, but not ridiculous for where I was.

Somehow, the $42 for 3 hours jumped into the ridiculous realm for me and I planned to be out of the garage before I hit that mark. But one of the reasons I chose a garage was because it allowed me to leave my car for as long as I wanted without getting a parking ticket. I wanted to be able to relax through lunch and be open to whatever time frame that took. I wanted to be without time pressure.

I’d forgotten that the friend I was meeting, who has no family and makes solidly over 1/4 of a million a year in salary, refuses to pay for parking garages. I've spent hour after hour circling block after block after block with her in search of street parking.

Our lunch spot was on the thirteenth floor of a building with an amazing view overlooking the Charles River. We were just about to finish our dessert and coffee when her phone alarm went off. “Oh, that’s the time for my meter.” She said. I smiled to myself thinking how cute it was that after all these years she hadn’t changed. “Okay” I said and swigged the last of my coffee.

We put our jackets on and headed to the elevators. Outside there was a brief, but firm, hug good-bye and she bustled down the street towards her car. I was not at all offended, and I didn’t feel as if my parking choice was better or worse; it was simply different.

On the drive home I mused over the ethereal nature of our money beliefs and how despite the fact that they only live in our heads how completely we steer our lives and judge others by them. These beliefs are just ideas that have come to us and we’ve held on to. Not only do we hold on, we become blind to other possibilities. The invisible boxes we live in are built by these beliefs.

But what would it be like to have freedom? To know that happiness is 100% independent from bank balances? To maneuver around money with ease and grace? To be grateful for what there is? To sleep easily?

There are thousands of money affirmations out there which aim to break down the walls of that invisible box. But without insight, affirmations are just hopeful lies we tell ourselves. The true power comes when we see something new and our point of view naturally shifts.

When I’m feeling stuck, I love to spend time wondering.

I wonder what ideas I’m carrying that are not my own.

I wonder what ideas have outgrown their usefulness.

I wonder what I'm not seeing.

I wonder how much is enough.

I wonder what my instincts are telling me.

I wonder what else is possible.

I wonder if… you get the idea.

I hope you have a wondrous time and soon find yourself in a larger box!