Integrated Financial Training: Westchester NY

Empowering you to Manage your Money and your Happiness



Money and Happiness: The Foundation

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The fundamental idea of martial arts is to teach a system of doing something in the most efficient manner possible and simultaneously help the practitioner discover how to be happy. We all have two objectives in life: to live and to be happy. We seek joy and we avoid pain.

First we address the ability to accomplish our goals in the most efficient possible manner. In martial arts training we learn to find those behaviors that leave us open being defeated in accomplishing our goals and close them. Invariably our weaknesses are derived from a superficial view of ourselves on an unconscious level and how we relate to the world around us. If someone asks you where you are, you will instinctively reply, “here,” and point to the current location of your body. This is natural. We believe at an instinctive level that our body represents ourselves, who we really are. We have a mind, which is somehow permanently affixed to this body. If you asked whether our "self" is permanent and fixed, generally we think we are permanent. But something which is structurally permanent is static - it cannot move. So if our "self" is our body, we could not move. Obviously something is wrong with our instinctive view of ourselves; we must learn to correct it by bringing our awareness fully to the contradictions at hand.

When we are defending this body, we become overly afraid of harm and hunker down to protect it. This process makes it painfully obvious to a martial opponent exactly where the object they wish to injure is located, and therefore exactly how to inflict the greatest harm. Similarly when we think of money as something we need to protect this body, we covet it and place it in a very secure location. But when we do so for long periods of time, the purchasing power of this money is certain to decline due to its failure to generate income that exceeds the rate of inflation. So we are assured to lose purchasing power (what we needed the money for in the first place) when we strive the hardest to avoid that outcome. In this way our unconscious ideas of who we are obstructs our ability to accomplish our goals of protecting ourselves.

With regard to happiness, when we think of this body as ourselves, we think we can find happiness through the senses. Food, physical contact with others, endorphins through exercise are all positives we may seek. We think the happiness to be gained through the senses is permanent and unchanging. But our senses can only produce temporary effects. For example, eating chocolate may bring true joy for a few minutes. But try eating chocolate nonstop for three days and it would probably not be so joyous. The chocolate does not produce lasting joy and neither does the sensory input. By pursuing permanent happiness through the fleeting senses we again guaranty failure. Regarding the ability of money to produce happiness, see the Can Money Buy Happiness? article. Let’s just say the short answer is the same as chocolate. So pursuing money with the intent of using it to produce happiness through sensory stimulus for example will guaranty failure.

So if these instinctive approaches fail to produce the desired results in handling our money efficiently or producing happiness, how do we accomplish our financial goals and still find the time to be happy? We need to understand what will enable us to accomplish our goals and what will cause happiness. If this was easy, you could just read the next paragraph or two and be set for life. But for most of us it will take time, so we describe it as a process leading to our goal over time.

The first thing we need to do is take a very close look at what we have been doing (as described above) and realize it can never work. If we want to handle our wealth properly and find happiness, our current strategies are simply the wrong way to go about it - we need to realize this with our full consciousness and pursue a different strategy actively.

The second step is to add power to this change in strategy. One of the best ways to do that is to commit to make positive changes not only for yourself, but for others as well. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is one of the beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Taking this principle to its logical conclusion, all sincere acts to help others will produce happiness for ourselves, while all acts to find happiness for ourselves (in the wrong places, e.g. sensory stimulus) will produce suffering for us. So if we want to be REALLY happy, we need to amplify our efforts by trying to make EVERYONE else happy.

The last leg in this process is the specific way we change our view from thinking unconsciously that we are merely our bodies in favor of a more wholesome approach. There are many ideas, philosophies, etc ranging from Socrates and Wittgenstein to Jung to Buddha and Christ, all of which are capable of producing happiness and eschew the instinctive notions permanently affixing us to our bodies. You might choose any one of these or make up your own, as these people have done. Whichever you choose, this track will require great diligence as you bring your full being to realize this consciously.

Then when we approach the administration of our financial affairs we will be able to do so in a much healthier manner. Rather than cloud our decisions with incorrect ideas of whom we are and how we can pursue happiness in the world, we can simply look at what needs to be done and respond naturally. We will not live our lives to accumulate wealth only to lose it when we die. Instead we will properly care for ourselves and at the same time use our wealth to contribute to the world in a manner that will bring as much happiness to everyone as possible.

In martial arts training, they explain that in order to be effective, you need both technique and understanding of the underlying principles. For example, the best meditation master in the world could easily be killed by a novice swordsman if the master has no knowledge of the sword. He needs technique. However, if two swordsmen both know technique and only one understands the underlying principles, the other has no chance of victory. So effectiveness in administering our financial affairs is dependent upon proper knowledge of the techniques. Yet we cannot be truly effective and truly happy without correctly understanding the nature of ourselves and the world around us. We need both to develop a healthy and constructive relationship with money.

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Legal - The purpose of this site and all services offered are educational in nature and not to provide any investment advice, planning or recommendations of any securities. The purpose is to educate you to make your own financial decisions, or prepare you to evaluate your financial advisors with confidence so you can gain trust in the services they provide.




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