Poverty therapy = abundance creation for everyone

Many people who are not poor have a bit of a habit of blaming people who are poor for the fact that they are poor.

Isn’t that like blaming people for the fact that they were born or for the fact that they have two legs?

People with enough money can actually BLAME and SHAME you for living frugally and not buying into consumerism. That’s nuts.

But after that, it gets more complicated.

Deep poverty is like a small cage you can’t get out of

First, there is the fact that deep poverty makes your world and your world view shrink. When that happens, the number of opportunities within mainstream society shrinks too. You become increasingly marginalized and the better-off may see you as some kind of potentially dangerous wild animal.

Second, deep poverty is often deeply traumatic and can upset people’s relationship with money badly.

Money becomes a source of pain.

What happens next? You avoid money. You want to get rid of it. It makes you nervous and antsy because even when you have a small windfall, you are so acutely aware of all the things you need… and you know that the money will be gone before you know it and that it won’t be enough to cover the things you need, let alone the things that might really make a difference. So even windfalls can become a source of pain and discomfort.

Money becomes like the stove you burned your hand on or the dog that chased you and bit you when you were little.

Money becomes the thing that meant that you had to keep your kids home when all the other kids went on a school trip.

My office contains mostly items that came from Freecycle or the streets or are otherwise “pre-loved” and upcycled. The chair was new, from Argos, cost about £40. My office also has four floor lamps that I bought (partly to enable me to make videos), and three of those came from Argos at about £6 each, and the fourth one also came from Argos and was £15 or so. One lamp on my desk came from the streets (discarded, yes) and the other one from Freecycle and it’s lovely.

Money becomes the thing that makes you sell – or lose – your most treasured possessions (and for some mums on Universal Credit, your body).

Money becomes the pain you feel at Christmas when you know that your kids deserved so much better than what they got.

Money becomes the source of the pain you feel when you have to send your kids to school without breakfast.

And from then on, your relationship with money is forever troubled. Money will always make you feel uneasy and it may make you want to spend it all quickly. Before it’s gone again.

But there is also the other thing, people becoming overly cautious, and ending up spending too much over time because they spend too little in the moment. What is cheap in the moment can be very expensive in the long run. (I even see landlords and their staff fall into that trap.)

An example of that is buying a four-person set of flimsy plastic cutlery for yourself or a friend because it only costs one pound, whereas you’d be better off buying cheap all-metal cutlery for one or two that will last you many many years.

Money is the thing that made your kid trip and hurt his knees because of his shoes.

Prolonged deep poverty can result in a money-oriented form of, what is it? PTSD?

You end up making “bad” decision after bad decision because there is never enough of the stuff and you don’t know any longer what you could do that would really make a difference.

Take the kids to McDonalds on that rare day that you can afford it and stick out your tongue at the gossipping neighbours because life is too short and if your kids get hit by a bus tomorrow, one of the things you will end up regretting is that you hadn’t taken them to McDonalds the day before. Not only because of the food but because of what McDonalds meant for the kids. A feast! A party! Feelings of abundance and joy!

Part of my desk, with my Freecycle lamp. If you have a keen eye, you may spot another item that I bought “new” on the right side in this photo. It is a small original artwork, which I acquired for no more than £25 some years ago and which brings me joy on a daily basis. But I don’t have the latest gadgets, I don’t have the biggest screen on my desk and I haven’t run my fridge for about 18 months now. To my astonishment, I discovered that I actually only rarely need a fridge. We’ve all been taught that we need one and that we need to run it all the time. I needed mine for my eye drops, but then Pfizer came out with a version that does not need to be refrigerated and I now avoid pharmacies that don’t stock that version.

Going hungry too many times can do something similar. Some people have to skip lunch even when someone offers them lunch because if they say yes to that lunch, it will throw their bodies out of whack. Out of the poverty routine. That would make life harder for them.

Charlotte explains it in this video:

If you have gone without sufficient food or sufficient variety for a while, and then suddenly have enough money to eat, you may find that you can’t stop eating as if your body is thinking “quick, quick, before it is gone again”.

That’s biology.

Nobody’s fault.

Is there a poverty phone line?

No.

You can get DEBT COUNSELLING.

But debt counselling often only works if you have a sufficiently high and steady income and nothing ever breaks down and your kids behave like perfect little robots.

I would like to help change poor people’s relationship with money.

Been tossing that over for a few days now. I want to see something started like an AA meeting or support group for people in deep poverty.

AA meeting sounds too much like “It is all your fault”.

No, it isn’t. Money isn’t your fault. It is society’s fault. Money was not supposed to start dominating our lives the way it does these days. Money was supposed to support us, not crush us.

Support groups, then. Self-help groups.

I imagine a room and a table stacked high with notes or a bathtub filled with notes.

Is that abundance? No.

Abundance comes from many things, including what you can do with money.

But for people who have been living in deep poverty for too long, it is like having been locked up in a dark room for years and suddenly being released into the summer sunshine.

I’ll toss it around some more.

When money becomes like cancer, you no longer like money much…

Money is the thing that makes you sit in the dark and in the cold in the winter because you can’t afford to heat and light your home, makes you feel really really miserable and makes you notice how little daylight there is in the winter.

After a few days, you slide into a state of hibernation. It’s a waiting game, waiting for some money to come in.

Money is that thing that makes you pick up a piece of construction foam because you were hoping it was a bread crust.

Money is when you become really thin and somebody compliments you because you are really thin.

(LOL!)

In the meantime, if you’re in deep poverty, but can get onto the internet and do have a headset, go here and listen to this for a while with your eyes closed to clear your mind:

https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/pureBinauralBrainwaveGenerator.php

I discovered binaural beats and how they influence brain activity when I was living in Florida in the mid-1990s. They can calm your mind and bring your stress levels down significantly.

If you use binaural beats at home, sit in an easy chair or lie on your bed and relax while you listen to this for half an hour, through your headphones. But listening for 2 or 5 minutes often helps too.

A quick shortcut? Crank up the two levels on the left to get your brain really really really relaxed, the kind of “relaxed” that deep sleep can do for you. Don’t touch the other controls.

 

Does your company benefit the world?

The UK has a particularly extreme form of capitalism, I read this morning. Is this news to you? It wasn’t for me.

These are the views of Colin Mayer, the author of a report on the future of “the corporation”. He is a professor at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School.

According to him, various global crises such as the disastrous impact our activities have on our own habitat and the increasing inequality, certainly in the UK, are forcing us to remind ourselves what the purpose of business is.

To make money?

No.

If you go back in history, you will find that business as well as money once began as a way to address our basic needs.

Take the case of Peter, who was great at making boots and Carla, who was very skilled at catching fish, whereas Paul, Jenny and Chris had a wonderful apple orchard.

People particularly needed boots in the winter, but when lakes and rivers are frozen, fish can be harder to catch and you won’t see many apples on trees in mid-winter.

So instead of all these people needing to do all of these things, Peter would give a pair of boots to Carla, Paul, Jenny and Chris who promised to provide Peter with fish and apples.

And instead of all of these people needing to remember who they promised to provide with boots, apples and fish later, they came up with little notes they handed each other and that is part of the story of how money came about.

As a maker of boots I could, for example, exchange a promise of a basket of apples from Jenny for a promise of a catch of fish, if I had my own apple trees, but my neighbour didn’t but my neighbour had a cousin who was an excellent fisherman. So my neighbour could then take the note to Jenny and receive “my” basket of apples.

This is also part of the story of how the concept of business came about.

You began a business because you were good at something and dedicated and you were providing something worthwhile to everyone around you.

At some point in the past, this mechanism became increasingly skewed, particularly in the west, which had this great urge to impose its ways and views on people in other parts of the world as THE way to live, the ONLY way to live.

Many members of indigenous tribes around the world would disagree, I bet.

Capitalism. The accumulation of goods and money for the sake of accumulation, at any cost.

The cost turned out to be that we are slowly but surely making our own habitat unsuitable for human life.

Sure, we have become better at beating old-fashioned infectious diseases, but we have also been boosting an increasing number of new and old afflictions of which the incidence is increasing.

We have a global depression epidemic, which is a major cause of “disability”.

The various kinds of air pollution we unleashed are making an increasing number of people ill in all sorts of ways, and it does not just concern respiratory health.

Bioethics experts who suggest tweaking asthma genes to curb only one aspect of this are hopelessly out of touch with reality, partly as a result of a major flaw in their logic, namely linear thinking. “If I press this button, the ceiling light will go on. If I press this button again, the ceiling light will go off.”

The cost also includes modern slavery. Millions of people and millions of children are slaves. You can find them working at hotels and at universities, among other places. They’re all around you.

We don’t notice them because hey, extreme capitalism is the only right way to live, right? So we have learned to accept these costs as unavoidable collateral damage.

So we are increasingly making more money so that increasingly more money can and has to be spent on dealing with the problems caused by the business of making more money. That is the real circular economy.

But these costs to people, to the planet and to its many other inhabitants are not inevitable.

Is it hard to turn this tsunami of destructive business approaches around? Oh yeah.

But the tiny house and van life movements are proving that extreme capitalist views are crushing people, and are no longer contributing much to our lives.

The tiny house movement and the van life movement are also sparking new businesses that cater to these movements but don’t buy into the dogma of extreme capitalism.

So, if you want to put sanity back into your business, what should you do?

Differentiate yourself. Don’t blindly do what your government tells you to do and consider that enough. Don’t meekly follow everyone else’s example in your industry. Set the standard higher for yourself.

This also goes for local government. City councils and county councils.

Lead.

See? I knew it! (Or: Why the UK’s class system is stupid?)

You’re not stupid or flawed. You merely weren’t lucky.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/610395/if-youre-so-smart-why-arent-you-rich-turns-out-its-just-chance/

Goes for scientists too.

“The team studied three models, in which research funding is distributed equally to all scientists; distributed randomly to a subset of scientists; or given preferentially to those who have been most successful in the past. Which of these is the best strategy?

The strategy that delivers the best returns, it turns out, is to divide the funding equally among all researchers. And the second- and third-best strategies involve distributing it at random to 10 or 20 percent of scientists.

In these cases, the researchers are best able to take advantage of the serendipitous discoveries they make from time to time. In hindsight, it is obvious that the fact a scientist has made an important chance discovery in the past does not mean he or she is more likely to make one in the future.”

Give your business a boost with Buddhism

What business can learn from buddhism

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Haley A Beer, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick and Edward Gamble, Montana State University

Millennials, we are told, have a different attitude to work than their elders. They want to work for organisations committed to values and ethics, where there is a higher purpose than simply making a profit.

Businesses wanting to attract the best millennial talent might therefore learn a few lessons from ancient spiritual teachings, such as those of Buddhism. The fourth largest religion in the world has been focused on attaining a higher meaning and following the path to moksha – liberation – since the sixth century.

Organisations, especially in the non-profit and charity sector, can re-energise their employees by aligning the way they measure performance with the principles of Buddhism. This could also improve productivity, an important measure of economic activity and living standards.

These were the findings of our research. We interviewed 63 executives from not-for-profit organisations and found that most had simply imported practices and strategic models from the business world to measure their performance. Unfortunately, this is a world driven by maximising profit, which goes against the underlying purposes of these organisations.

Engaged and energised

Many studies have established that most staff are not only motivated by money, while the carrot and stick approach, which mixes reward and punishment, is also outdated. Employee engagement is now the ultimate goal for managers and it involves more than just job satisfaction.

It might be that an individual is perfectly content with a job and yet not engaged in it. Instead, engagement is found where work is absorbing, and to which employees feel naturally dedicated; work that one gets wrapped up in and is energised by. Engaged employees are prepared to go beyond the call of duty and actually drive the business; they show up because they want to, not because they have to.

Employees and businesses benefit from an injection of spirituality.
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Some might think spirituality and business should not be mixed in together, but both play an important role in society and people’s lives. They should be seen as interdependent. Spiritual disciplines may very well offer insights into techniques for achieving lasting employee engagement that everyone is searching for. At the very least, ancient wisdom could offer some lessons for understanding what it means to seek and achieve higher meaning in your life.

A different focus

This is perhaps even more applicable in not-for-profit organisations. Many non-profits use standard performance measures, that have been tailored to help traditional organisations maximise revenues while reducing costs. The rationale provided for the use of performance measurement is also usually a commercial one, suggesting that measurement only supports efficiency and effectiveness.

This can obscure their ethical and benevolent dimensions. Focus instead is placed on understanding data like the number of products delivered, or what rating a service has in numerical terms. Employees are rewarded for their capacities to score highly on given criteria. Although none of this is inherently wrong, it means that discussions and attention are pushed towards money.

Meanwhile, rich social interactions, trust, and positive, but unquantifiable, stories go unnoticed and unrewarded. Employees would be better able to believe in their organisation if it’s clear that their performance measures drive social connectedness and create social value.

Our research found that spiritual philosophies can provide this. Buddhism, for example, teaches its followers to take greater personal responsibility for their actions, to have a healthy detachment where necessary, and embrace a wholesome view of their actions.

This can include how socially connected and conscious employees are, but also their entrepreneurial awareness. Risk-taking and innovation are core to many of these organisations so employees must have the mindfulness to evaluate and exploit opportunities when they arise.

It also applies to financial meaning – how money is spent, but also where it comes from. Spiritual rationales for goals and activities can complement commercial ones. Most employees in the non-profit sector want to help people and this is what motivates them to work in this industry, often for less money.

Evidence also suggests that embracing spirituality within organisations may lead to better decision-making, enhanced creativity, reduced absenteeism, and greater emotional control.

Buddhist principles are not just for not-for-profits, however. Spiritual principles such as higher meaning, awareness (of self and the environment) and connectedness (belonging to a community), are likely to be relevant in other sectors, particularly if corporations want to re-engage and re-energise their workforce.

The ConversationMany are already dabbling in this with corporate social responsibility programmes, corporate volunteering, and sustainability targets. Several large companies, such as Google and the retailer Target, are even already adopting spiritually-informed practices to reap some of these benefits. But management practices such as measuring performance have not caught up with the deeper desire that many employees might have. We are just scratching the surface of how we can find more meaning and more productivity from our work.

Haley A Beer, Assistant Professor of Performance and Responsibility, Warwick Business School, University of Warwick and Edward Gamble, Assistant Professor of Accounting, Montana State University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

What I heard last week

I had a conversation with a gentleman who used to work at a very large company. (I won’t indicate what kind of company it was and I certainly won’t say which one it was.)

 

That company, he told me, used to cooperate a lot with a similar large American company. (I won’t say which one that was either.)

At those companies, they used to call their counterparts at the other company instantly when one of them made an exciting discovery. They would ask each other to come over, so that they could teach each other, and share.

Every once in a while, they’d get together and have a conversation that went somewhat like this:

“We gave you that, and well, that’s worth about 50 million. But you gave us this, and that’s also worth about 50 million. You owe us six pence.”

And then they went and had lunch together.

What put a stop to it?

Competitiveness.

Cooperation

More recommended reading

These are business books that contain a few life lessons as well. The story about RJR Nabisco is a fast-paced account – it’s been called a thriller – about business and banking practices (junk bonds and whatnots) and of course a portrayal of Ross Johnson and others. (It’s not for everyone, and not for every moment because it requires enough time.)

The book about Greggs gives you the inside view of how Greggs came about and grew into what it is today. It’s a good read and may change how you think of Greggs, the big chain it is today that started as a mom & pop undertaking not unlike my own parents’.

Hilary Devey’s Bold as Brass is suitable for everyone – unless you happen to be a misogynist. It’s a touching book, showing you how Hilary grew up in Britain, the many personal and professional challenges she had to overcome and how she developed Pall-Ex. Throughout her life, Hilary climbed many steep cliffs and was pushed off a few too.

  1. Barbarians At The Gate
  2. Bread: The Story of Greggs
  3. Bold As Brass

Five books about Britain

I haven’t read the fifth one yet, but take for granted that it’s highly informative. The first one is pretty heavy reading, more suitable to browse and read when anything catches your eye about how the tea tradition came about for instance or that alcohol used to be seen as good sustenance for hard-working people. Do that often and you’ll learn a few things you didn’t know yet.

The other four are much easier reads.

The Making of the English Working Class (Penguin Modern Classics)

Rich Britain

The Making of Modern Britain

SHOPPED: The Shocking Power of British Supermarkets

A History of Modern Britain