By and large, the human action is driven by two kinds of motivation: we do things either to seek pleasure or to avoid pain. For some the pleasure seeking drive overrides the fear of pain; others do (or don’t do) things primarily to avoid pain; mostly though we do some things to seek pleasure and others to avoid pain. In what follows, we will examine how our internal motivation predicts our financial health in particular.
Are you avoiding pain or seeking pleasure?
Firstly, let’s look at the drive to seek pleasure. Seeking pleasure raises our dopamine levels, which helps our further drive and motivation, feeds our desire to live, and is an excellent drug against depression. Thus, when you look at the next pair of shoes you want to buy, the better car, the bigger house, etc. your dopamine production increases. Dopamine levels peak at the time of purchase and then start to decrease, rapidly. And since dopamine is addictive, soon you start to look for the next thing to acquire.
Importantly, there is nothing wrong with the above scenario per se. As with everything, it’s not about the what, it’s about the why. So as long as you seek pleasure to fulfil a core need (e.g. to follow your passion), and you derive satisfaction from something that aligns with your personal values, seeking pleasure (and receiving it) can serve to raise your vibration. And if you are in a state of high vibration, you will attract more good things and experiences into your life, including more money.
However, if seeking pleasure through reckless purchases is driven by vanity instead of values, then your core vibration will remain low. The bigger house or the more expensive car won’t raise your self-worth, and your low self-worth will keep you in debt and poverty for the Universe pays only to those who value themselves.
So how do you know the pleasure you seek through spending money is aligned with your values and is not simply an attempt to feed your inferiority complex? Usually, if an action is aligned with true values, it carries an element of being of service (though not being a servant!). Being of service raises the production of oxytocin in addition to that of dopamine, and if oxytocin is in the picture addiction is less at play. So if you are in the habit of overspending, ask yourself if you overspend because of values or vanity? Vanity-driven spending habits are likely to compromise your financial health, whereas value-driven spending habits will normally strengthen your finances.
Now, there is another scenario – you may be overspending because you are lazy and you are trying to avoid the pain of financial planning, organizing bill payments, putting money aside (for tax, capital expense, investment, etc.), consolidating debts, investigating options, learning basic financial skills, etc. In other words, trying to avoid the pain of taking action may have you overspend on services, interest, late payment fees or overpriced items.
Importantly, if you are trying to avoid pain, you may also be on the other side of the spectrum – instead of overspending, you may be way too conservative with your spending and investing. Of course, conservative habits are not bad on principle. Again, as with everything, it’s not about what you do, it’s about why you do it. On the face of it, are you being conservative based on reason, or are you being too conservative based on fear? Reason-driven conservatism will have your riches accumulate and will increase your financial health. On the contrary, fear-based conservatism (i.e. addiction to security, lack of trust, fear of co-operation, or seeking partnership out of neediness) will keep you in a low rate of vibration leaving you poor and dissatisfied, quite possibly lonely, and perhaps even depressed.
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