12 Toxic Myths of Wealth: The Personal Growth Industry’s Bankrupt Notions of Prosperity

So, how do us hippies relate to money?

Not an easy question. There are so many people with strong opinions about this. And it can be easy to swept up into something because it ‘sounds good’.

I feel an urgency because of what I’m seeing in my travels leading workshops for holistic practitioners, life coaches and others in the personal growth field.

Maybe you’ve seen this too . . .

A smart, progressive person. They do yoga, enjoy their smoothies and soy chai lates. They go to a lot of workshops. They consider themselves ‘green’. And then they get involved in pyramid schemes, crazy investment deals, currency trading, land development etc. with no consideration at all for the impact they might be having on the world. Getting caught up in greed. The lure of easy money.

Critical thinking, due diligence and any real investigation into the true sustainability is thrown out the window. They find themselves involved in questionable activities because they money is so good.

Money . . . The end of their financial struggles. Getting out of debt. Being able to afford good organic food, that juicer and the supplements. Being able to take a vacation. Get adequate child care. Ease. An outbreath. Space. And contribution – “If I make all this money, then think of the good I can do!” None of these needs or desires are foreign to any of us I suspect.

They read a lot of books – like those pictured here. They’re trying, you see, to get over their limiting beliefs about ‘having a lot of money’. Being rich = good. Being poor = bad. What could be more clear?

Somehow – the efforts to heal our issues around money has actually become another form of poison. Somehow, the beautiful intentions of growth and healing have been completely co-opted by the forces of capitalism and greed.

But done so slickly that it feels like empowerment. The cure has become worse than the disease. Rather – the cure is the disease.

And, it’s . . . disturbing.

I want to write about this. I want to challenge this.

I’ve been meaning to do this for a while. The Personal Growth industry has a certain point of view on wealth. I think it’s actually remarkably well summarized below (these mostly come from the work of T. Harv Ecker).

The statements below are, of course, painful simplifications, distortions and distractions.

But they’re hardly new. I suspect you find versions of them woven through the fabric of civilization. And certainly through the industrial era.

And I want to write a critique of them. It may end up becoming a book. A book written for those involved in the personal growth movement who feel like something is ‘off’.

I would love to invite your thoughts on any of the twelve statements below. Perhaps we can all collaborate on this. I will weave comments you leave into an article (you’ll be referenced).

Are you game?

This piece is a critique – I’ll be exploring alternate views in future work.

Feel free to post links to articles, quotes etc.

MYTH #1:

Rich people believe “I create my life.” Poor people believe, “Life happens to me.”

MYTH #2:

Rich people play the money game to win. Poor people play the money game to not lose.

MYTH #3:

Rich people are committed to being rich. Poor people want to be rich.

MYTH #4:

Rich people think big. Poor people think small.

MYTH #5:

Rich people focus on opportunities. Poor people focus on obstacles.

MYTH #6:

Rich people admire other rich and successful people. Poor people resent rich and

successful people.

MYTH #7:

Rich people associate with positive, successful people. Poor people associate with negative or unsuccessful people

MYTH #8:

Rich people are willing to promote themselves and their value. Poor people think negatively about selling and promotion.

MYTH #9:

Rich people are bigger than their problems. Poor people are smaller than their problems.

MYTH #10:

Rich people choose to get paid based on results. Poor people choose to get paid based on time.

MYTH #11:

Rich people constantly learn and grow. Poor people think they already know.

MYTH #12:

Rich people know that money is just energy. Poor people think it’s paper and coins.

Questions before the house:

1) How do you feel about the myths below?

2) What’s wrong with them? Where are they ‘off’? What do you see as the heart of the issue here? Is there anything missing?


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About Tad

  • My uncertainty comes even before the myths: the words rich and poor. Off the top of my head, I identify as alive and well. If pressed to use these words, I could say I feel rich in some ways and poor in others. So I’ll start by proposing a myth to trump all the myths: that “rich versus poor” is a false dichotomy based on broadly defined terms.

    If we assume rich means anyone who doesn’t worry about (survival costs/spending habits/money) – already I’m not sure who we’re talking about or if a pattern would emerge within such a large sample.

    If we assume poor refers to (low annual income/net worth/satisfaction) whoa…are we going to talk just about money here? I think that would be easier. I don’t think we can measure and discuss happiness/satisfaction as it pertains to a perception of wealth.

    I am personally interested in what you think about / focusing discussion on legal currency and setting aside wellness and satisfaction since so many of us have a separate, established, and personally understandable emotional account.

    As for the rest of the myths, I’m really not sure. I’ve experienced all kinds of abundance with regard to money, and I can’t say there’s been a pattern. Sometimes I’ve had to work really hard; other times it seems to arrive out of nowhere.

    I am curious about resistance toward actions that I know will likely lead to money. Sometimes it’s something I am ready to stop doing a la ‘don’t get good at something you don’t like doing’. Othertimes it’s something I know I was meant to do. In both cases I feel like I’m swimming in peanut butter, so my attitude isn’t always a good indicator of my wealth potential.

    I see validity in the hourly wage paradigm. If there are only so many hours in the day and you earn only so much per hour, you can always raise your rates and earn more than you truely need, but growth will never be exponential. Nothing mythological about that. Results vs. time, sure. Delivering more value in less time is just being efficient.

    If I go through every myth and practice all the rich-people traits for a month, I suspect it will make my life more interesting and fullfilling. I can’t assume I’ll suddenly have a lot more money because I can think of people who are already like this and still have some financial uncertainy. But I could see the mere increase in overall efficiency bringing in more money.

    Which brings me back to my initial exclusion…I beleive I would also be happier.

  • tanya. a hundred times yes. to everything you said. i love you. this is exactly it. yes.

  • I read the book and I thought is was okay. I signed up to go to his Millionaire Mind Intensive for Calgary, because I got in for free. He comes from immigrant parents and made it big, though never hiding the facts that none of this was easy. He had to change the way he thought in order to succeed and that’s why so many people love his courses. They work. Through his experiences he changes the way people think.
    He’s an innovator. To become a NY times best seller he strategically set up his training company to take pre sale orders of his book and then when the book was released he offered his course for FREE. Saved someone $1300 for buying a $30 book. Shear Genius. The book was merely a vehicle to get people into a seminar where real changes could occur.
    As for the statements kept in the context of the book he explains why he made them by giving examples, so you can see and understand his thought process. When people are pelting pop cans at his Jaguar when he’s delivering food, but leave him alone when he’s does the same thing a Ford Escort, I completely understand how he might think poor people resent rich people.

  • I agree with Tanya = there’s just something about the words “rich” and “poor” and the cache they have come to carry that seems “off” to me, most especially the word “rich”.
    Part of what’s at issue is that the meaning of the word rich has become very marginalized – instantly bringing money to mind. We can be rich in so many ways – rich in friends, in talents, in experience. Likewise with the word poor – which has come to instantly mean no money.
    I shy away from these kind of books/CS’s now, because typically there is something about the topic of getting rich that always seems to smack of desperation and disappointment, no matter how cutesie pootsie the title may be, or how gifted the writer/speaker is. Over and over again in the ones I’ve experienced, is the undercurrent of “Why?” – why isn’t what I’m doing good enough?” “Why do I feel left out of the pack?” “Why don’t I get to have every last thing I ever wanted at the exact moment that I want it?” Why, why, why?
    Such dissatisfaction in the face of such abundance! We are all surrounded by exactly what we need every minute of every day. All that the ‘why question’ does is make us feel dissatisfied and confused about what that abundance looks like.
    I lost my home this spring, not only my home but also our places of business. This could have been a good time to turn to those kind of books for guidance. However, while I was busy asking my own “why questions”, the thought of cracking the spine of any of them in an effort to find out yet again why my beliefs, values and purpose are at odds with those of the world of commerce and exactly what disugise I should put on to fit in and get rich made my blood run cold. Even when I thought that I would be spending the summer in a tent in Snow Valley, I knew I was rich – with basic survival skills, networking skills, even wilderness skills – and I didn’t really need any book or money miracle guru to remind me of that. I never really thought of myself as poor – temporarily thrown off the horse, maybe, but not poor.
    I’m glad that there are people out there who can write these books for the people who feel that they need them, however, common sense still needs to prevail, and thinking for ourselves is still the best way to know how we really feel – rich, poor, happy, sad … and I must end by saying that the world is so much richer with people like you in it, Tad. I hope you do write a book, or many books.

  • Deb. I love this. Yes.

  • The only myth that I see thriving in the personal growth industry is that one’s path to abundance can be taught by applying somebody else’s mantras.

    Harv is a human man. I am certain that he discovered (learnt, adopted) some concepts that changed his life. For others’ sake, he simplified them significantly. And he is a businessman. A very charismatic one. He is out there to make money: what his attendees take out of his seminars, is up to their intelligence (that he NLPs the hell out of – and he is GOOD!). He is not good, he is not evil, he is just really good at what he does.

    In reality, every personal achievement is individual and a product of one’s own work and fortune. But how do you sell that? Panaceas sell a lot better, and honestly, selling hope is not the worst thing in the world, even if all there is to it is hope. Eventually an intelligent human being will figure it out and move on to personal gut and courage. Harv gives great boosts of optimism, and it can be a very good thing.

    Ah, I could talk about it forever. It’s a rich subject. :)

  • T. Harv Ecker is a toxic personality and a con man. He has middle class and poor people celebrate the wealthy instead of fighting for social justice. That and his principles are false. I know several very wealthy people who are miserable bastards! Personal growth has little to nothing to do with being wealthy.

  • hey duff. personal growth and financial wealth are not the same = true in my books. yes.

  • hey lena, a thought. When you say, ‘every personal achievement is individual and a product of one’s own work and fortune’ it makes me wonder if that’s true. it seems that many people in this society were born on third base and think they hit a triple. white people, for example – are born with the historical and economic privileges of wealth amassed through stolen land and decades of slavery. it seems that all accomplishments are some complex mix of personal and collective. what do you think?

  • The whole movement is degrading to “poor” people. Every rich person needs hundreds, thousands of millions of poor people to make his/her wealth. Profits are unpaid wages. This isn’t just a slogan – it’s the truth if you think about it.

    My aunt who had two PHDs, one in education, said that hard work is a middle class value. I actually had to think that through. Rich people can think that money is energy and so forth because it does come to them and flow etc and they just have to tap into it. It’s true for them. The middle class do have to work hard to get a slice of that action. But poor people know that the harder you work – at the jobs poor people have access to – the more you are exploited, and hated by your coworkers because you raise the bar on expectations of work. So the trick to survival is to only work hard enough to get paid. Working harder doesn’t get you more pay – just more tired and used up.

    So I’m poor because it’s my fault. That’s not news. I grew up with that as “white trash”. And I’m bitter because – guess what? – it sucks to be degraded and blamed for one’s lack, especially when you are a child.

    My experience if the whole “manifestation” business is that if I look and act like “them” they’ll pay me what they think “their people” are worth. So I can play that game when I have the energy, and otherwise I don’t want to bother anymore. I am too busy making my poverty rich through barter, cooking from scratch, doing things myself and sharing the survival skills that make me competent and resourceful.

    Thanks Tad, for being the revolution and creating the opportunity to “out” wealth bigotry.

  • Tad…you’re good :) Why haven’t I been reading your blog before?

    To expand upon what you and others have said, here’s my take on the myths/mentalities that I feel are silly amongst some personal growth followers:

    1. Myth – You shouldn’t make money off your spiritual “gifts”. This should be your service to the world.

    (Ugh…what a guilt trip)

    2. Strange Action #1 – When “sensitive” souls try and make money, they try the strangest things like getting hooked on the fanatacism schemes (multilevel marketing, or other ideas or guru’s lines of thinking)

    3. Strange Action #2 – Presenting their service or product like the stereotypical pushy car salesperson.

    (Of course not everyone does this, but I don’t liked to be pushed and convinced that their product is the ONLY product or way of thinking I need. Makes me feel icky, and I don’t want to spend or make my money this way.)

    In the end, I think it’s all about choosing the lifestyle you want. Many people with little money, can do wonders with it and aren’t working all the time – they choose quality of life. And if you choose business, it can be really fun! – figuring it out, seeing how it evolves, seeing how my gifts can be presented to the world in a grounded, nourishing way.

  • Kim! I love what you said. and yes – that is a myth. perhaps there was a time when elders and medicine people were cared for by the community and . . . we aren’t in that time right now – so the question becomes how can we ensure that we are sustained by what we are offering. how can the business we feed, feed us. and it’s interesting the difference in energy that comes from trying to get ‘rich’ vs. ‘trying to get our needs met’. you know? sufficiency vs. ABUNDANCE!! (which ends up being the flip side of scarcity). And I think so many people are vulnerable to these ‘get rich quick schemes’. They desperately want to believe it’s all true and could work. And then they have no idea how to sell it so they take the advice of the seminar leader and think, ‘well i guess that must be how it’s done . . .’ What a mess we all have to untangle.

  • Brian Welling

    Well let’s take the “Secret” as emblematic of much of the new age movement’s take on personal growth. I really like the way of thinking presented in that book/film. What I do not like is the great emphasis on the idea that financial prosperity is somehow this great measure of personal success. That idea actually makes me want to barf a little. It is strange that the ultimate goal for a spiritual movement could be material prosperity.

    Financial prosperity definitely does increase personal happiness up to a certain level of income but after that there is no correlation whatsoever.

    Another connected thing that I am concerned with is that somehow people talk the talk of Oneness and do things like go to personal growth seminars, do yoga, etc. but if their actual goal is financial prosperity are they thinking about how this goal may affects others? If someone wants to be rich inside and out, how are you gonna get there? If it is just through the kind of advice typically offered by the personal growth movement then I am sad to say that his/her actions will not lead to oneness, they will lead to increased soical and environmental injustice. This is because in capitalism, we need to try really hard and do very, very abnormal things if we are to make money without screwing over other people. The typical personal growth bestseller/seminar has absolutely nothing to say about this. The authors seem to be oblivious to it, and so the people reading the books go ahead and get the right spiritual attitude for making money in all the typical ways that cause divisiveness in this world. How ironic that they think of themselves as promoting oneness!

    Another thing that bugs me is that there seems to be a notion that one can simply flick a switch and realize that one is responsible for his or her own reality. Not so. It is a long, long process, and those that are already doing relatively well financially, have not been beaten or neglected as kids, and have a good education have a HUGE advantage over everyone else. But yet there is this perception that if one does not realize his/her own power, he/she is somehow just willingly ignorant.

    Those are my views in a nutshell. I feel like I straddle the line btwn two worlds, that of social/environmental activists (who typically ignore the INTRApersonal factors that create reality) and that of New Age thinkers (who typically ignore the INTERpersonal and systemic factors that create reality).

  • Brian. Applause. wow. that was lucid. I’ve never heard anyone talk about the process of learning responsibility. I love it.

  • Tad, you’re right – there is difference in energy in the approach. And with money, there’s alot of comparing that goes on.

    Yet, this subject has me thinking. I just read the myth list again, and having no emotion towards the terms “rich” and “poor”, I could resonate with the messages. If the subject was, ‘ideas for how to work and play with money’, these could be some good tips. Do you think the toxicity comes in how they try to “sell” this idea?

  • Hey kim. I think the toxicity comes from many levels. From the unspoken and subtle suggestion that money is the primary kind of wealth that matters (despite the lip service), from the lack of any analysis about the overall injustices of the economic system, from the core belief that ‘more growth’ is the goal, from the notion that being ‘rich’ is better than being ‘poor’ and thus a subsistence lifestyle is ‘bad’, from the core notions of linear progress vs. cyclical existence, from the unwillingness to acknowledge our human limits around things. I could go on. there are so many assumptions woven into this.

  • I think the basis for these myths is the fact that people want to attribute success/money/etc. to something they did. In other words, people want to believe that they became successful through their own efforts or something they did rather than admit that outside factors had something to do with it.

    When I see the myths up there–every single one of them is trying to say that because a person thinks in a certain way, they’re rich. Many poor people think big. They buy into get rich quick schemes and go broke…but they aren’t thinking small there…

    When I see lists people make showing how rich people are one way and poor people are another, I like to point them to Justin Bieber. I just wonder why no one jumps on the bandwagon to attribute his success to his “millionaire mindset”. Or how about the Olsen twins? They were millionaires when they were toddlers. Think they were just born thinking like rich people? Just luck..

    I blogged about this once.


  • You’re very passionate about this, and I really like how much deeper you go in your view of money. I don’t know if you’re a movie person, but recently I watched the movie “Revolutionary Road”, with Kate Winslet. In the story, the couple revolutionizes how they look at their family and how they want to make money and live. They come alive and passionate because it’s real, it’s outside the norm. But the draw is very strong, to get sucked back into a life that is dutiful, and of the values you mentioned above. It’s heartbreaking.

    Your exuberance that comes through your writing is infectious — people need this and we’re all blessed with the message you bring :)

  • hey carlon,

    yes i agree. people want to believe it’s all their own efforts. and, to be fair, much of it is. but, also being real, while part of it may be that they used ‘the secret’ part of it is also that they used ‘the system’ (as in the current capitalist system). And I love throwing in the child stars as examples. Touche. Nicely done sir.

  • Karen

    It seems to me that the whole area is incredibly loaded. There’s truth and lies in all those myths, and it’s a lot easier to either embrace them or pooh-pooh them than to admit to complexity. It’s the same when we talk about privilege – people automatically tend to assume that privilege is a monolithic thing, you’re either privileged or you aren’t, rather than you’re a mix of different privileges and disadvantages that work in different combinations in different circumstances.

    My husband’s family have taken university degrees for granted for generations. My generation is the first in my family to have benefitted from the (all too brief) window of opportunity of tuition fees paid by the British government; the result being that our parents didn’t know how to support us in navigating our ways through the system. And I’m more educationally privileged than many of the kids I grew up with because both sets of grandparents either came from families that valued reading (the better educated workers) or bucked the “know your station in life” attitude of their families. I’m also only just at the point where I am dealing with my own resistance to making a liveable wage (the working class belief that I can’t aspire to that twinned with the lower middle class belief that I shouldn’t ask for money for a “caring” profession because it’s a “vocation”, not something respectable like being an accountant) while dreaming of being so well off that I don’t have to worry about finances (the poor and middle class aspiration towards having piles of cash as a marker of success and safety).

    And it’s HARD to hear my highly intelligent, amazingly competent sister, who has loads of really useable skills tell me, “Well, I’ll never be able to make a decent wage – I didn’t do well enough at school, and I’ve been out of the workforce from looking after the kids.” She is so utterly convinced that she can’t aspire to financial stability that she won’t consider the possibility that she actually has the kind of background that could move her into a job she’d like, never mind get paid fairly for.

    Yes, rich people get to take abundance for granted. Yes, because they expect to be treated a certain way, most people treat them that way. No, it doesn’t mean they never make stupid mistakes that lose them their financial stability; yes, it does mean they’re socially hooked in to enough other rich people to get them back on their feet much of the time. It’s also true that our culture rewards having a lot of money by providing more free stuff (ie the Oscar night goodie bags, the awards ceremonies designer dresses and jewels, the corporate junkets). My grandmother used to say, “Them as has, gets.”

    Yes, it’s also true that people with very little money tend to come from families with very little money, and that it tends to go back generations. They tend to live around people with very little money, and they tend to expect very little because their surrounding culture reinforces it all the time – even though the wider culture is also telling them to WANT more.

    And then there’s the academics, and the holistic practitioners, and the whole sub-culture of Money Is Toxic people. They may have educational and social privilege, though they are also trapped in the Want More, Expect Less hole.

    Shifting attitudes around our self-value is hard. It is hard for me to even imagine what my services are “worth”; £30 is proportionately more to someone on benefits than £300 is to one of the footballers’ wives who live in this area. It is hard for me to imagine charging what I think my services might be worth, not because no-one will pay (I’m sure they will), but because a) it automatically excludes almost everyone I know, b) it feels like I “shouldn’t” charge so much because who am I to expect that kind of financial ease?, and c) I don’t want to be caught in the web of propping up the Matrix.

    So we have to start with the awareness that it’s not money that’s evil – money is a side-effect of a desire to keep in the centre of the Circle by excluding others (“the LOVE of money is the root of all evil”), and that it’s a method of distraction and regulation.

    I’m going to need to use the tool until such time as it’s no longer appropriate. Over the years, I’ve been trying to avoid buying in to the idea that I need more Stuff, and that’s been a decent start. I’m still working out what the next step is to get me out of the Matrix.

    Feeling my way around the myths, it’s clear that they’re laden with IEDs that may blow up in my face if I approach them in slightly the wrong fashion. Other peoples’ certainties scare me.

  • Karen – wonderful! Hooray for complicating things. Yes. We need to complicate these matters. But do other people’s uncertainties scare you or do they inspire you? I think they secretly inspire you to this kind of beautiful clarity you just shared. I love it.

  • Karen

    Tad, it’s their certainties that worry me! ;)

  • Laurenmiranda

    What’s wrong with these myths is the shadow assumption that rich people are not only more “successful” because of their wealth, but they are actually more developed, more evolved as well. There is a definite ickiness about this.

  • rich/poor seems like a false dichotomy to me
    where is ‘enough’?
    Tad, speak to what is True Wealth… (that would be a fun post)
    I agree that “abundance and prosperity” is often just New Age Materialism…

  • alan. you’re right. i want to write that post for sure. what are your thoughts on it?

  • Thanks — much needed! 

    Every one of these myths was true for somebody, somwhere, sometime, but none of them is true for everyone, everywhere and all the time.  Like the over-ballyhooed “law of attraction,” they can be simplistic examples of one perspective blown up as if it fits everything. 

    As the old quote goes, “if the only tool you have is a hammer, you think every problem needs a hammer.”  And with these myths, someone’s experience of differences they noticed between rich and poor (not even including the real meaning of poor or rich!) is treated as all you need to know to become rich …. or that one idea is the same as a fully fleshed out vision.

  • Brenda

    I am so glad you chose to write about this Tad as I have such a hard time with these ideas that have become so popular.  It’s very troubling to me.  The main issue to me if the utter lack of political and social context in these beliefs.  The assumption is wealth or the lack thereof has to do with nothing other than personal belief and motivation.  The truth is that there is an entire social and political structure, within our country and globally that contributes much more to whether someone will be rich or not than does their own beliefs and hard work.  People who are millionaires who preach these principles very rarely, if ever (I’ve never seen it) acknowledge the priveleges and opportunities that allowed them to get where they are.  I have spent most of my life working with people who live in poverty – they are not there because they want to be.  Any limitting beliefs they have have often been passed down to them through generations of poverty in their families and/or instilled in them by our culture and our institutions.  Discrimination against people due to race and class contribute greatly to whether someone can ‘think and grow rich or not’.  Those who teach these principles refuse to recognize these things and they refuse to acknowledge how they themselves contribute to it and don’t believe that they have any responsibility to help others reach higher, as they did themselves.  It’s based in a false assumption of extreme personal responsibility and an utter lack of recognition of any community responsibility whatsoever.

  • brenda – i love your words. would you be open to writing a guest blog post?

  • Brenda

     On this?  I would love to!

  • John Bass

    These myths are sound bites for the ADD generation and deserve deeper exploration. It is easy to mock T. Harv Ecker, Steve Seibold and others; yet is there any comfort or joy in being poor? That’s an over-simplification too. I think the bottom-line is that we are finally waking up to the fact that our education system completely fails society on the subject of financial education as money is such a taboo. Even our parents don’t discuss finances with us as we grow up. Besides if all they can teach is from their own frame of reference then we are unlikely to break free from the cycle of living their example; usually paycheck to paycheck.

    I think you also need to show the other side of the equation too… I’ve sat waiting to try and get hired for day work as temp labourer at Diversified at 6 am and listened to people waiting along side me analyze superstar athletes (because they’ve memorized Sportsline or read any crap printed by Sun Media) and they may not be progressive but they enjoy Budweiser and Players King-size; each to their own.

    Also advise that you be careful defining pyramid schemes vs multi-level
    marketing and question why businesses can be permitted to pay a minimum
    wage that is unlivable. I welcome the chance to contribute and share ideas, challenge you to do meaningful research because I am in the midst of some of the activity that you challenge here. Yet I’ve also quit watching most TV, especially news, found a number of good books and am growing by not conforming to much of society. I do plan to be financially free and am going to give back to those in need. I’ve got a healthy perspective and a desire to be held accountable. I’ll leave it there.

  • hey john. i think you hit the nail on the head in that they ‘deserve deeper exploration’. and that’s my point really. the whole topic of money and wealth has deep and profound implications. i love how deeply and practically you’re exploring it in your own life.

  • Colette Kenney

    The book “Creating True Prosperity” by Shakti Gawain is one of my favorites on this topic.

    Here are some great thoughts:

    “Wealth does not guarantee security. Even a high degree of financial stability cannot bring emotional security. One reason some people continue to pursue money compulsively, even when they have a great deal, is that no amount will ever make them feel secure or powerful. Having more money, then, does not necessarily bring fewer problems, greater freedom, or security. The truth is, prosperity has less to do with money than most of us believe.” 
    So, what is prosperity?

    “Prosperity is the experience of having plenty of what we truly need and want in life, material and otherwise… Prosperity is an internal experience, not an external state… While prosperity is in some ways related to money, it is not caused by money… Problems exists at every level of income. Prosperity can exist at every level, too.”

    Longing and Belonging

    “The advertising industry devotes itself to reinforcing and expanding our desires for all sorts of things and experiences. Our Western religions tell us that many of our desires are sinful and lead us down the road to hell. A core premise of the Buddhist philosophy is that desire – or at least attachment – is the root of all suffering; the goal is to transcend it. Certain philosophies popular in the New Age movement assure us that we can have everything we want if we are open to it. No wonder many of us feel uncertain about whether we should pursue or try to let go of our desires.”
    False Cravings

    “We are lured by false cravings when we are not conscious of our true needs and desires, or when we don’t know how to fulfill them.”

    * * * * *

  • Colette Kenney

    Hey Tad! 
    Thanks so much for writing this – You know how much I love brining awareness to this topic :)

    I like what you wrote: “Somehow – the efforts to heal our issues around money has actually become another form of poison. Somehow, the beautiful intentions of growth and healing have been completely co-opted by the forces of capitalism and greed.”

    Personally, I see the whole personal growth industry as a means for a select few to control the masses once again – New Age, Spirituality, Yoga, Meditation – these are all just modern day forms of religion. And behind the scenes, here’s what the capitalistic well-to-doers are thinking:”Make them think they’re missing something – sure we can TELL they they can do (achieve, be) it on their own – and if they don’t – well then there’s obviously something wrong with them – at least that’s what we’ll make them believe – so they’ll be convinced they need us – and then we’ll have them right where we want them – in the palm of our hand begging for more.”
    Personally, it is my belief that we need to do whatever feels good. If it feels SCARY (like affording a $10,000 coaching program so that you can earn as much money as the guy who’s giving the course) then you might want to think twice about it. You don’t NEED what he is selling. What you need is to trust yourself, and identify what “true prosperity” really is for you.

    You may find that working like a mad-man to get the supposed security you are looking for is keeping you from what you really value, like spending time with your family, friends, and yourself. Taking care of your body, and your health. Getting outside and smelling the fresh air.

    If you’re trying really hard to achieve something, spending all of your savings trying to make it happen, going deeper and deeper in debt, because “maybe, just maybe” this next coaching guru is your answer – you’ve completely missed the boat. You’ve been living in the future, and you’re completely missing your life – that is happening right now!

    How do I know? I’ve been there. In fact, just a few short months ago I went through it. And life is miles better after letting go. I didn’t give in, I just let go. And in the process, prosperity as I define it is now my reality.

    I wrote a love note on this topic, that’s coming out this Thursday… I’ll send you think link once it’s published :)

    Love, Colette

  • Colette Kenney

    Well said Brenda!

    The assumption is also that no one has been raised in abusive homes, born with fetal alcohol syndrome, or addicted to crack. But if you were – well it’s your fault if you can’t believe your way to success. Oprah was raped as a child and Wayne Dyer was an orphan you know!! Ugghhh…

  • When I read the list of mypths I agreed with them all, that being said, I’ve allowed myself to be programed by the personal development train.  I in my heart of hearts beleive that before we come into phyisical form we KNOW that EVERYTHING is just experience, there is no good or bad, rich or poor. .and my journey now is to bring my consiousness to each of these polarityies as they come up.  THere is joy in being rich, there is also joy in being poor.  I have felt more cared for and part of community in my most financially destitude moments, and so that’s why I still hold the poverty mindset so dearly.  As I bring consciousness to this, and realize that I can be prosperous AND still have community and flow and abundance, and receive gifts.  I can HAVE already, AND receive gifts.. This is the shift that I am experiencing now.  It’s a beautiful one.  :) I almost always remember to enjoy the ride.  One of hte most beautiful gifts I’ve been given in the last month is the advice to “look at the present moment as if it were a page of a scrapbook, of the best moment of your life”  It’s so amazing.

    THank you for this opportunity to expand, and for your own life’s work.  :) You inspire.

  • elena. you might like this? https://marketingforhippies.com/occupy-wallstreet-the-revolution-is-love/ i love how you are sitting with these things with such honesty.

  • Deb

    I realize that this is a very old blog but I just want to say that I love it! And I hope you’ve got more to say. If you still need a collaborator, I’m willing! These myths are poison and they are spreading.

  • Tomar Levine

    Tad, I just came across this post from five years ago and it’s hitting a nerve in me. For years I’ve been incensed by the coaching/transformational industry’s blind insistence on high income as proof of value without any awareness of where they got those values, how we’ve all been brainwashed to believe in the “American Dream,” and how lacking in any global political-economic perspective these proclamations were (and still are, escalating from 6 to 7 figures as the ideal). In the last few years I’ve been gratified to hear more and more voices raised to counter these values and the fear-scarcity tactics they give rise to. But mostly the voices of sanity are relegated to the political/economic/ecological truth-sayers and are not as prevalent within the coaching/transformational industry – or not as loud as the hype-blasters.

    Lately I’ve become aware of another related issue. Reading my emails I notice that 90% of them have to do with money. How to make more, all the tricks and tools and sure-fire gizmos we know about. And hugely, in my world, the emphasis is on changing your inner game, your beliefs, your energy vibration, your consciousness – in order to be resonant with money so more of it will come your way, so you will be open to receive: “Abundance consciousness” and all of the methods and techniques that go with that. I lean towards these approaches and I use many of them myself and with my clients, to clear negative beliefs, traumatic memories, generational imprints, etc. I believe that is all real and important. It’s really important to bring more awareness and self-mastery to our inner worlds and I believe seeming miracles are possible when we do that. I’m still working on clearing my own money blocks, which have been legion.

    However, what irks me is how this high-minded attitude still fails to grasp a huge elephant in the room. It continues to make the individual and her psyche, her emotions, her beliefs responsible for what is essentially a huge failing of the system we live in. We take for granted that our relationship with money, our experience of lack and struggle, is somehow our fault, because after all “abundance is infinite.” And it is – until humans get their hands on it. I believe the original concept of money as a symbolic means of exchange is an extension of nature’s principle of give and take, eternal flow. In nature it works perfectly.

    But thanks to humans’ experience of separation and hence lack, fear and greed, we actually now live in a rigged system, are struggling to get up a slanted floor, not, as we are told, a level playing field. It should never be this difficult, never should struggle and lack, fear and greed be the default settings of human exchange. (Well, who am I to say what evolution intended?) In an appropriate system that is based on sustainability for the individual and the whole, we would never be having these discussions. And I realize that we still have to find a way to survive in the context we find ourselves in. Wishing it were different won’t make it so – yet. But I believe we are at a cross-roads. I actually believe that IS what evolution intends!

    I believe we are moving towards a changed world, a new reality that does work. I don’t know how soon that will be or what the process will look like. My priority is to put my energy into raising consciousness, contributing to the awakening of more and more people to who we really are and what’s true and possible. That awakening is happening regardless. To me that is a spiritual question but it also is a political one, an environmental one and hugely an economic one.

    By the way, Tad, I think it’s time for someone to do a telesummit on the concepts of Enoughness and the road to sufficiency and true prosperity. A friend recently complained that “unless you’re very successful” no one will listen to what you have to say about things like this. But I believe there are enough voices now and a huge hunger to hear this articulated.

  • “It continues to make the individual and her psyche, her emotions, her beliefs responsible for what is essentially a huge failing of the system we live in.” Amen. And yes – we still have to find a way to survive in these times. It’s all such a mess. Thanks for sharing with me here. Good to not feel alone on these harrangues.

  • Sarah Regenspan

    Tad, have been enjoying clicking through your blog and following the train to different posts. I realize this one is quite old now. Curious if you have developed more writing on this since. I have also carried a sense of ickiness about the prosperity stuff. Brenda and Tomar nailed it. This gets to heart of what I want to figure out how to address as a coach: We must acknowledge the meta shittiness of structural racism, income inequality, globalization and advanced capitalism that has created so much misery for most people. I want to specifically support the people who are doing the work in social movements and communities to create structural changes. AND- in the coaching that I do, we are encouraging people to develop a set of skills (that are mostly borrowed from Buddhist thought) that allow us to shift our attention away from our reactive “Monkey Mind,” the psychological space that tends to think in a repetitive and constrained way, to how we are choosing to be- compassionate, generous, open, courageous, etc. [As an aside, I’ll read more of your stuff so that perhaps I can figure how to talk about the style of coaching that I do without it sounding so eye-roll inducing woo-woo…] There are shitty circumstances that have been put in place structurally to benefit a few at the cost of everyone else’s livelihood. And yet- when we focus on what we perceive as obstacles, shitty circumstances and everything that is going wrong, we suffer and our efforts tend to feel painful and exhausting. It’s very difficult to change the current circumstances if we are focused on them, rather than on the possibility we see for ourselves and others. The actions that lift us up and that lift others up come from focusing on who we really are and how we are willing to be, despite current circumstances. I highly recommend this interview by my colleague Zahava Griss with Rha Goddess. Wonderful articulation of healing the money issues for people for whom the ultimate vision is social justice: http://embodymorelove.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/71943730-156558289.mp3

  • thank you <3