True prosperity is not something we create overnight. In fact, it is not a fixed goal, a place where we will finally arrive, or a certain state that we will someday achieve. It is an ongoing process of finding fulfillment that continues to unfold and deepen throughout our lives.
In this chapter, I will outline seven steps on the road to an increasing sense of prosperity. These are not steps that are necessarily taken in any particular order. Rather, they describe different elements of the journey. We each have our own unique path. We may focus on each of these elements at various times and in various ways. At times we may even work on all of them at once.
PROSPERITY STEP ONE: GRATITUDE
Whether or not we feel particularly prosperous at the moment, the truth is that most of us in modern Western society are enormously prosperous, materially and in many other ways. We need only compare our lives with the struggle for survival and subsistence that most humans in history have experienced, and that a majority of people in the world today are still experiencing, to realize how truly fortunate we are. Many of us live better than the kings and queens did a few centuries ago.
Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it's important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level. We need to literally "count our blessings", give thanks for them, allow ourselves to enjoy them, and relish the experience of prosperity we already have.
One simple way to do this is to write a list of every single thing in your life that you feel grateful for and appreciate. Keep the list in a notebook and add to it whenever you think of something else, or whenever something especially good happens. You can even make different pages or different sections in the notebook for each area in your life, such as home, relationships, work, and so on.
When you wake up in the morning or before going to sleep at night, take a minute or two while snuggling luxuriously in your bed to think about what you appreciate in your life. If you are feeling troubled about something, you needn't brush that aside. Acknowledge that feeling as well, and simply let it be there, along with your feelings of gratitude for what is working. You may not be able to do this everyday, but remembering to do it as often as possible will enormously expand your experience of prosperity, and create space for more to come.
Make a practice, too, of expressing your appreciation as often as possible to the people in your life who enhance your experience of prosperity in many different ways. Let them know in your words and your deeds how much they mean to you.
PROSPERITY STEP TWO: AWARENESS
We all have certain ideas, attitudes, core beliefs, and emotional patterns that limit our experience of prosperity. Deep feelings of unworthiness, a sense of scarcity, fear of failure or success, conflicting feelings and beliefs about money, and many other issues can block our growth and fulfillment.
Also, we have each developed certain energies and disowned others, which leaves us out of balance and unequipped to deal effectively with certain aspects of our lives.
Most of these beliefs and patterns are initially unconscious; we are not really aware of them and yet they control our lives. The moment we begin to consciously recognize them, we are on the road to having a real choice about how we live.
The dawning awareness about what doesn't work in how we are living is by far the most powerful step in our growth. It is also the most difficult and uncomfortable. As soon as we recognize a problem, we are on the road to healing it. However, that healing takes time. Meanwhile, we may have to watch ourselves repeat the same old self-defeating patterns a few more times.
It's difficult to do this without getting frustrated and self-critical. We need to understand how important this step of awareness is. When you are unconscious, you can repeat a behavior endlessly without gaining much benefit. Once you have some awareness and can catch yourself repeating the same behavior, you learn an enormous amount. You really feel the pain of it. Then you are able to explore other possible ways of handling the same situation. It's not long before things start to change. You don't have to make change. Focus on gaining awareness, and change will follow.
PROSPERITY STEP THREE: HEALING
While we can't force change, we can support and enhance the process of change that we are going through. There are, of course, many ways to go about supporting our healing and development. Different tools and techniques are appropriate and helpful at different times on our journey, and certain things are helpful to some people and not to others. I believe we know intuitively what is right for us at any given moment and can learn to trust and follow that inner sense.
The work of healing needs to be done on all levels of our existence. I have written about this extensively in The Four Levels of Healing: A Guide to Balancing the Spiritual, Mental, Emotional, and Physical Aspects of Life. The book contains many practical suggestions and exercises.
I wish I could offer a simple magic formula for healing your life. There is no quick and easy way, for on a deep level this is truly our life's work. Teachers and healers who promise a quick fix or an easy way are either misguided, or eager to sell their products. (They may offer one piece of the puzzle, however.) I feel we need to surrender to the fact that life is an ongoing adventure in healing and growth, and learn to enjoy the ride!
I also feel that it is very important to get help and support from others as we need it along the way. A good therapist, teacher, healer, support group, wise friend, or mentor can be an invaluable resource for our healing process.
PROSPERITY STEP FOUR: FOLLOWING YOUR TRUTH
We all have within us a deep sense of what we need, and what is right and true for us. To access this we need to pay attention to our feelings and our intuition. We need to learn to listen deeply to ourselves and to trust what we hear. And we need to risk acting on what we feel to be true. Even if we make mistakes, we must do this in order to learn and grow.
Here is a simple way to practice paying attention to your inner wisdom:
Find a comfortable, quiet place where you will not be interrupted for a few minutes. It's wonderful to do this outdoors if you can find a place that's really comfortable; a peaceful place indoors is fine, too. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and begin to pay attention to your breath. Breathe slowly and deeply. Whenever your mind wanders, gently come back to focusing on your breath and relaxing your body.
Now shift your attention and the focus of your energy down into your heart or belly area. Imagine that a very wise part of you lives in this area of your body, and it has a message for you right now. Ask what the message is, and then relax and pay attention to whatever thought, feeling, or image comes to you. Take whatever comes and be with it for a few moments. Don't worry if you don't fully understand it. Just sit with it a little. Ask your inner guidance if you need to be aware of or be reminded of anything else. Then thank your inner guidance. When you feel complete, open your eyes. If you wish, you can write a little about what you experienced.
Do this simple meditation as often as you can. It's great to do first thing in the morning or last thing at night. With some practice, you will develop your ability to receive and follow your inner guidance.
PROSPERITY STEP FIVE: CREATING A VISION
What would a truly prosperous life look and feel like for you? Where and how would you live? How would you feel about yourself? How would your body feel? What would your relationships be like? What kind of work or creative expression would you have? What other aspects of your lifestyle can you imagine? How would a typical day in your life unfold? How would you feel at the end of your day?
It's important to imagine how you would like things to be. Our imagination is a powerful creative tool. Once we can vividly imagine something, it often opens the door to manifesting it.
Remember that none of us exists in a vacuum. We are powerfully affected by the world around us, and we have an equally powerful effect on the world, whether or not we realize it. We are an integral part of the whole. We can only have a truly prosperous life to the extent that our world is prosperous. And our world can only be truly prosperous when we learn to honor and respect the earth we live on, and all the other beings -- human and otherwise -- who live here as well.
Those of us fortunate enough to live in circumstances where we have the luxury of pursuing personal growth have a responsibility to use what we learn to make the world a healthier, more prosperous place for all.
Since we are all ultimately part of one consciousness, the most effective way to do that is to take responsibility for our own healing. The more conscious and balanced we become, the more we live in integrity and follow our truth, the more healing we bring to the world. We need to ask our inner guidance, too, if there are specific actions we need to take to make our contribution to the world.
Create a vision of prosperity for yourself and the world, in harmony with the earth. You can do this in meditation, or you can write out a description of your vision. Another wonderful thing is to make an actual picture of it by drawing or painting, or make a collage by collecting photos, cards, pictures and words cut out of magazines, elements from nature -- anything that has meaning to you -- and gluing them onto a large piece of paper or cardboard. Hang it on your wall, and it becomes your treasure map -- every time you look at it, you will give energy to your vision.
PROSPERITY STEP SIX: SETTING GOALS
Once you have a sense of your overall vision for a truly prosperous life, you can set some specific goals. There are times in life when it is helpful to set goals, and other times when it is best to let go of goals for a while and just see where life takes you. If you check in with yourself and it doesn't feel right, skip the goals process for now. If it feels exciting, fun, or helpful, go ahead and give it a try.
You might start by creating a special notebook for your goals. Think of the different aspects of your life that are important and make a list of them. For example:
- Personal Growth
- Creative Expression/Special Interests
- Making a Difference/Service
Write one of these categories at the top of each page.
Then think about your relatively long-term goals. Where would you like to be in five to ten years, in each of these areas? Write one or two long-term goals for each aspect of your life on the appropriate page. If you like, you can write your goals in the form of affirmations, in the present tense, as if they were already true.
Go through the process once again, this time creating one or two one-year goals in each category. Try to be realistic with your one-year goals; pie in the sky will only set you up for disappointment.
Now go back through each category, and write down one to three reasonable steps you can take toward each goal. Choose a few of these steps to take within the next month or so.
Here are some examples of long-term goals, shorter-term goals, and action steps:
Long-term goal: To become a family therapist.
One-year goal: To go back to college and complete my master's degree.
1. Call local colleges and have them send me information and applications.
2. Read through materials and decide which schools interest me.
3. Complete and send in application.
Long-term goal: To learn to play the piano.
One-year goal: To take piano lessons.
1. Ask musician friends about possible teachers.
2. Call piano store about renting a piano.
Once you have created your goals, put them away for a while. Look at them occasionally and update them as needed. Be sure to appreciate yourself for the steps you have taken, and the progress you have made.
Goals can help us gain clarity, inspiration, and focus. However, they can also work against us if we hold onto them too tightly, or try too hard to make them happen. Try to let go of your attachment to having them happen in a certain time or way. Don't worry about how to make them happen; let the higher creative power handle the details.
Hold your goals lightly, and allow them to change and evolve as you do. You may find that certain things are going as you hoped, while others aren't. You may even find your whole life is going in a different direction than you expected. Remember that our souls have a purpose in this life that we may not fully understand yet, and everything that happens to us is part of our soul's journey.
Learn from everything that comes your way. Continue to follow your intuitive sense. If a certain goal is right for you, it will unfold naturally from this process. Let your inner guidance show you the way.
PROSPERITY STEP SEVEN: SHARING YOUR GIFTS
As you follow these steps, you will find yourself naturally expressing and developing the special talents and abilities that you brought into this life. When you follow your heart, and are committed to your healing and growth, you simply can't help becoming more and more of who you are meant to be!
Often we have difficulty recognizing and appreciating our own talents, because they come so naturally to us that they don't seem like a big deal. The things we find ourselves gravitating toward, the things we can't help doing, are important indications of what we are here to do. The things we feel passionate about are clues to our life purpose.
Ask yourself, "What do I love to do? What do I just naturally find myself doing?" For example, I just can't help talking about consciousness growth. I'm fascinated by the process, and passionate about sharing it with people. As things have unfolded, I've ended up teaching and writing about personal growth for a living. I did not plan this, nor could I have predicted it. It's what evolved as I followed my interests and desires.
Unless we are blocked in our ability to succeed or receive, life always rewards us appropriately for what we give. Through answering what calls us, we develop our right livelihood. Essentially, the universe pays us to be ourselves, as fully as possible!
The opportunity to share our gifts and thereby make a difference in the world is one of the most profoundly fulfilling experiences we can have in life, and an essential ingredient in creating true prosperity. As we live our lives with integrity and passion, our experience of prosperity just keeps expanding.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, New World Library,
Novato, CA 94949. www.newworldlibrary.com.
This article is excerpted from the book:
Creating True Prosperity
by Shakti Gawain.
Personal-growth pioneer Shakti Gawain presents her definition of prosperity: not bankrolls and material possessions, but rather a fulfilled heart and soul. Interviewing people about their views of prosperity, she has found that most, regardless of their wealth, feel a serious lacking in their overall sense of well-being. Using a fresh approach, she challenges the Western tendency to equate money with happiness, encouraging readers to examine their longings honestly, follow them to their roots, and separate them from false desires or addictions. Writing with authority and warmth, Gawain shows readers how to create true prosperity in satisfying relationships and the kind of happiness not dependent on possessions or circumstances.
About the Author
Shakti Gawain is a pioneer in the field of personal growth and consciousness. Her many bestselling books, including including Creative Visualization, Living in the Light, Creating True Prosperity, The Path of Transformation, and The Four Levels of Healing, have sold more than six million copies in thirty languages worldwide. For more than twenty years, Shakti has led workshops internationally, and has facilitated thousands of individuals in developing greater awareness, balance, and wholeness in their lives. For more info, visit her website at www.shaktigawain.com.
Shakti Gawain on Living a Conscious Life