Thursday, September 27, 2012

Aburdene, Conscious Money

Conscious Money: Living, Creating, and Investing with Your Values for a Sustainable New Prosperity (Atria/Simon & Schuster, Beyond Words Publishing, 2012) by Patricia Aburdene addresses the common conflict that people experience between making money and making a difference. It argues that a person’s values are not an impediment to wealth but a foundation for wealth creation and that conscious investors “seek to thrive financially without damaging others, themselves, or the Earth. Instead they: rely on human values to guide investment choices, invest in initiatives that further human and planetary evolution, and tap into intuition to balance and complement rational, objective financial data.” (p. 186)

As you might suspect, Aburdene draws on the mainstays of self-help literature as well as the socially responsible investing movement to make her case. In Megatrends 2010: The Rise of Conscious Capitalism, she described companies that had a set of values different from the run-of-the-mill; for one thing, they embraced a purpose beyond earning money. In Conscious Money she adds the individual and his/(mainly, it seems) her value set to the mix. Part I is entitled “The Inner Dimension of Conscious Money”; Part II, “The Conscious Marketplace.”

The result is something of a new-age intellectual mishmash. For instance, once you have “an instinctive sense of the business environments and practices that attract you, it’s time to turn inward, tap into your intuitive potential, and ‘get a feel’ for companies where you might want to do business.” (p. 105) How is this accomplished? In four steps: (1) creating a sacred space, (2) collecting questions, (3) connecting to a “felt sense,” and (4) harvesting the fruits of intuition. To accomplish step (3), “Take five deep, slow breaths to relax. Spend the next five minutes attempting to ‘feel into’ the business. Notice any place in your body that enters your awareness. If you feel constriction, for example, inquire as to what that feeling might be telling you. If your heart feels open, invite it to speak its message.” (p. 106)

For those who are open-minded and “open-hearted,” Aburdene offers some practical steps to understanding and improving one’s money mind-set. Some of these suggestions are eminently reasonable; others, such as “Make your next bill-paying session an Abundance ritual. Buy flowers or light candles. Play relaxing music,” not so much.

If you are a hard-core fear and greed investor, this book is not for you. If you believe in reason above intuition or spiritual consciousness when it comes to choosing companies in which to invest, you will probably not be persuaded otherwise (even though the power of intuition is well documented). If it takes arguments to convince you to consider a hypothesis, you will come away unconvinced. I admit to falling into the skeptical camp. And in many ways that’s too bad because our value systems underlie everything we do—how we vote, where we shop, who are friends are, what we hang onto and what we are willing to let go. Our attitudes toward wealth make it easier or harder to attain wealth, more or less desirable even to try.

Conscious Money touches on a range of important, timely topics. It just didn’t speak to me.

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