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Focusing on money clouds the mind

Monday, January 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 11:13 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

I’ll be the first to admit that although I realize money is not everything, shortly after I wake up in the morning one of the first things I’ve been thinking about lately is whether I owe anybody anything and when it is due. I mention this because it is a new experience for me. I’ve always been the kind of person who has so much going on in my mind that money has not occupied many of my thoughts. Never having had any money to speak of, I have never had any reason to give it much thought. In other words, I’m not one of those people who have experienced an economic boom either before or after the big tax cut.

So, I don’t know why it is that money has become such an important subject in my thought factory over the past couple of years. Since it is rarely a topic of discussion among my friends and family, I can only guess that it is outside influences that keep me financially anxious and stressed. I know, for example, that all the junk mail I receive either online or by snail mail is about money. I get volumes on how much I can borrow and all the wonderful goods and services available for purchase for so many dollars and cents. An hour of television viewing will earn me at least a 30-minute sales presentation involving the receipt and expenditure of money. The subject screams at me from billboards. It seems every available slip of empty paper has been confiscated and turned into an advertising document that has to do with money.

An incident occurred a few weeks ago that caused me to connect this dilemma with an age-old problem. What happened was that during the past holiday season, a friend and her family were the victims of a home invasion. Fortunately, they were away from home at the time, and a police investigation determined that while the premises had been broken into, nothing of material value was taken. Still, the incident was not void of damage. What the police report did not show was that the loss of something more precious than DVD players and computer games had occurred. There had been the stealing of a sense of peace and the destruction of that most exquisite of dignities caused by the invasion of privacy. There is always a chance, of course, that microwave ovens and digital cameras can be recovered. Peace though, once disturbed, and privacy once invaded, are not easily restored.

As I tried to console my friend, my mind drifted over the various ways our personal spaces can be intruded upon by hostile forces and how important it is to peace of mind to protect those spaces. Nobody, for example, took burglary tools and broke into my mind and implanted all these unhealthy thoughts about financial gains and loses. Certainly, I’m aware there are few areas in our lives anymore that are not dominated by money. It costs money to secure food, drink, a place to sleep, a license to get married, a safe environment in which to produce children, means to take care of elderly parents, space to get your body or your ashes buried and participate in any act in between. It’s virtually impossible for any able-bodied, responsible person to exist without having money to pay his or her own way. The challenge for some of us is in learning to live a spiritually centered, productive life, where the acquisition of money is not the primary reason for existence.

This is an accomplishment that seems easier for those who have loving families and devoted friends. People who are lucky enough to find houses of worship where believers put their faith to practice in all aspects of their lives, who provide a warm and friendly place and a helping hand to each other and to strangers are in the best position to survive the onslaught of the money demons. Those left in the cold to fight their battles, who feel in danger of being overpowered, would do well to try to build bridges of compassion and reach out to others to create a lifeline. The moneygrubbers succeed best when people isolate themselves from each other and spend all their time counting their money.

I’m one of those people who are willing to invest as much time as is necessary to maintain a healthy mind. Just like some folks walk miles a day or spend time on the exercise bars to keep their body in good shape, I put my mind through paces in a never-ending struggle to keep my thoughts healthy and productive.

Fortunately, I have developed a standard operating procedure for dealing with the invasion of unhealthy thoughts. I try to give them 15 minutes a day, in one lump sum. During that time I allow them full expression and then try to devote the other 23 hours and 45 minutes to constructive bridge building.

An active mind really can keep the demons away.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen

by calling at 882-5734 or e-mailing her

at nolen@iland.net.


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