Is Becoming Wealthy Inherently Evil?

November 5th, 2005 by Steve Pavlina

Is it morally wrong to attempt to become wealthy?

It’s no surprise to me that the Million Dollar Experiment, while mostly getting a highly positive reception, has also uncovered some opposition from people who believe the pursuit of financial wealth is inherently greedy, selfish, immoral, or just plain evil.

How do you feel about the whole idea of having more money than you need? A lot more. Excess cash. Does that concept excite you or make you feel uncomfortable? Is is attractive or repulsive? A mixture of both perhaps? Do you feel you’d have to compromise your integrity in order to achieve this goal?

What about earning money very quickly? A fast turnover. Making a quick buck. Does that raise some level of indignation within you?

If a friend were to say to you, “You know what. I’m going to go ahead and become rich,” how would you react? Would you assume this person has become a “sell out” or is about to compromise their integrity? Would you ridicule them for even setting this goal? How would you feel after they achieved the goal? How would you feel if they failed and gave up?

Isn’t it interesting to witness the complex feelings that arise when we examine our beliefs about money? Notice that I haven’t even addressed the actual process of acquiring money in any of these situations, merely the notion of wealth itself.

What role does intention play in the pursuit of wealth? Is the very idea of intending to be wealthy inherently evil, corrupt, or somehow wrong? Or can one become wealthy and still have integrity?

The level of “good” or “evil” you associate to money comes from your own beliefs and intentions, not from any innate quality that money possesses. By itself money is neutral and powerless. Your own thoughts will serve to define the role of money in your life.

If money or wealth are somehow connected with evil, greed, or selfishness in your mind, imagine what effect that will have on your financial decisions. Sounds like a good way of preventing yourself from ever becoming wealthy, doesn’t it? Is that a choice you’ve made consciously? Do you feel it’s the right one?

It isn’t money or the pursuit of money that has any moral connection — you might as well be collecting rocks, beads, or sea shells. It’s the energy you bring to money that matters. Money will play the role in your life that you intend it to play, and that intention will largely arise from your pre-conditioned beliefs. If you’ve been conditioned to associate negative qualities to money (especially through your upbringing), then money will play a largely negative role in your life. If you associate positive beliefs to money, then it will play a positive role.

But most likely you have mixed associations to money because socially conditioned beliefs are inherently incongruent — it’s a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth. Your concept of money develops mixed associations to both good and evil. You want more money for yourself, but not too much more. You step towards greater wealth and then back away from it. You dance around money for fear it might be dangerous to acquire too much of it, but then when scarcity overwhelms you, you think of little else. Eventually you figure you’re better off thinking about money as little as possible.

Been there, done that. It’s all so much nonsense.

Your money will derive its energy from you, from who you are as a person. Greater and greater wealth will simply squeeze out more of who you already are. If what’s inside you is good and noble and of high integrity, that’s what will come out. But if what’s inside you is fearful and uncertain, then fear and uncertainty will come out.

If you feel good about yourself, your thoughts, and your behavior, then having more money will only enhance those positive feelings and help you spread them to others.

What are you doing to earn money right now? Is your work devoted to the highest good of all? Or have you put yourself in a situation where you’re earning money in such a way that’s neutral or negative? Do you make money by creating or by competing? Are you giving your best value to the world or trying to get a free ride on the value creation of others?

We all grow up with a mixed bag of socially conditioned beliefs about money, especially from the media. By the time we’re working adults, we become bogged down with the heavy baggage of these limiting beliefs, causing us to behave very strangely and incongruently. Think about it for a moment… how rational is your financial behavior right now? Would an outside observer describe your financial decisions as truly intelligent and congruent when taking a deep look into your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities? Do you earn and spend money intelligently?

The only way out of the quagmire of limiting beliefs is to step back, uncover such beliefs one by one, and then consciously decide whether or not they’ll continue to be true for you.

Is money the root of all evil? Is the love of money the root of all evil? Or will money simply take root in the soil of your own thoughts?

Does making money quickly imply greed and selfishness? Or is it just being efficient and intelligent?

Does making extra money mean that someone else loses (scarcity mentality)? Or can you make money while simultaneously increasing the wealth of others without hurting anyone (abundance mentality)?

Is it intelligent to make only enough money to survive and cover your basic needs? Or is that really just being lazy and uninspired?

Have wealthy people compromised their integrity? Or is it possible to genuinely pursue greater wealth in a manner that serves the highest good of all?

Is the best way to fight poverty to give more cash to people who possess a deep-seated scarcity mentality? Or is it better to challenge this mindset and plant the seeds of abundance in their thoughts?

In order to acquire greater wealth, is it necessary for you to take more than you give? Or can you become wealthy by giving much more value than you receive in return?

How many wealthy people do you know intimately as opposed to through sensationalized media stories? What is their motivation?

If you had absolute financial abundance, what would you do with it? If that money were to allow you to express more of who you already are right now, what would you express? A noble purpose? The need for security? Fear and uncertainty? Self-sacrifice? Abundance and increase?

If you become wealthy and then teach hundreds of other people to do the same, have you done them a disservice and corrupted them? Or have you given them a tremendous gift?

Did you ever conclude that becoming wealthy would be out of your grasp? Have you ever thought about changing that belief?

These are all questions to consider when deciding what role money will play in your life.

One of my favorite quotes about money comes from the late, great Earl Nightingale:

Nothing can take the place of money in the area in which money works.

So amazingly accurate when you take the time to think about it.

I’ve had to face down a lot of these incongruencies within myself. What role is money to play in my life? Should I earn just enough to get by? Should I aim for financial independence? Do I serve people best by being broke, by earning just enough to cover my expenses, by achieving financial independence, by getting rich quickly?

Eventually I decided that it would be a good thing for me to become wealthy. Given that my purpose is to grow and to help others grow, I cannot ignore the financial dimension of personal development. If I become financially wealthy, then through my purpose I’ll naturally strive to help others do the same.

Working on my wealth is really no different than working on my self-discipline, my health, my productivity, my relationships, etc.

Once I made this decision, the first thing I had to do was to purge all those limiting beliefs about money from my psyche. I found quite a bit of rubbish in there, and I just let it go and decided that I would find a way to be wealthy that would be congruent with the highest good of all. Then I took some time to adopt more empowering beliefs about wealth and money.

Can achieving greater wealth for myself serve the greater good? I definitely believe this is possible. After all, it was my pursuit of passive income streams that gave me the freedom to create this web site in the first place. Those streams of income allowed me to spend my time writing and posting hundreds of articles without charging for them. I was able to spend months working full-time on this new career before I earned a dime from it. I think it should be obvious to anyone that this site is designed to give away a lot of value without requiring you to pay for it. But I could just as easily have taken a scarcity approach, charging for every shred of info and blocking access to it for those who couldn’t afford it. As I see it, this is one of those areas in which money does work — my passive income gives me the freedom to focus on giving without worrying about receiving.

But is it intelligent for me to give and give and give until I’ve exhausted myself through self-sacrifice? Or is it better to strike a balance between giving and receiving? What if I can help generate millions of dollars in extra wealth for others? Would it then be fair for me to share in that abundance as well?

When I write about productivity, there’s a bounceback reflection that increases my own productivity. The same goes for any other topic on this site. Whenever I focus on giving, I end up receiving as well. Should I block that reflection? I think that would be a mistake. I’ve seen how this very reflection feeds right back into the giving side, creating a positive loop of giving and receiving.

But the focus has to be on the giving side, while remaining grateful for anything that comes via the receiving side. Whenever I remember to do that, I find that my own good and the highest good of all are perfectly congruent.

My intention for becoming wealthy is to do so in a manner that serves the highest good of all. I’m not going to compromise on that. If this intention meets with the universe’s approval, it will manifest. If not, it won’t. My current interpretation of this ideal is to work to help other people become wealthy, as one of many dimensions in which I strive to help people grow. I don’t accept the scarcity model that says I must acquire wealth by taking it from others. I choose to follow the abundance model that says I can acquire wealth by creating even greater wealth for others. I genuinely believe that.

However, if you harbor serious negative associations to wealth that cause you to regard this whole experiment as evil, then you should probably write me off and be done with me. You certainly won’t be the first or the last person to do so. But if you choose to continue on this journey with me, be aware that I intend to help you increase your financial abundance as I do the same for myself, striving to do so in a manner that serves the highest good of all with congruency, not compromise.

My “extra cash” from the Million Dollar Experiment just passed $800 this morning. I’m going to spend about 10% of that amount on my family today, first by taking them all out to breakfast.

Nothing can take the place of money in the area in which money works.


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