I encountered The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist in discussion with
The title of this book is a natural attention-getter, though I think not very apt, as I will suggest below. It attracted me in part because I’m of an age when I can see more clearly to the end of my working life than to the beginning, and have (somewhat belatedly) started paying more attention to money and to retirement instruments. Makes you think of something sharp that could hurt you, doesn’t it? But there’s nothing here for retirement planning, other than advice on living better. On second thought, maybe it is about retirement planning.
Defining one’s relationship to money is inevitably a lifelong endeavor. One does it explicitly or subliminally, but one does it. “To not decide is to decide”, as Camus wrote. For many years I’ve thought... I should be paying more attention to this stuff. Then my eyes would glaze over. Reminds me of the joke about the Surgeon General’s report on the health consequences of smoking: give up reading!
This book is about making our relationship to money more explicit, and about turning the default on its head. That is, making our money, whether a bucket-full or a handful, an expression of our values and ideals, rather than the money (or fear of scarcity) driving our life decisions. Yes, the author has a long history as a fundraiser as well as a consciousness raiser.
The thrust of the book is to put your soul in your money and direct it wisely. To do so, Twist suggests, it is important to change one’s way of thinking about what she labels the Toxic Myths of Scarcity:
- There’s not enough
- More is better
- That’s just the way it is
Some of the ‘truths’ elaborated here will be familiar, even time-worn. Her arguments about the pertinent scientific evidence are as much ideology as economics and evolution. She is more persuasive when she speaks from her heart, and the heart of her experiences, about acting successfully in the real world of hunger and poverty, or in conversations with her dying mother.
Think you know what loss and commitment are? Turn to page 198, midway down the page, and
read about the Guatemalan woman who made her way to the UN’s Fourth World Conference
on Women in
There are many moving stories in this book, but it is much more than a compendium of heart-rending reality. Twist proposes ways of coping with the pathology of modern living… ways of thinking and speaking that can help lead us to ways of acting, and being happier for it. In a section entitled the Power of Conversation, she argues:
We think we live in the world… but we don’t. We live in our conversation about the world….The conversation we have with ourselves and with others-–the thoughts that grip our attention—has enormous power over how we feel, what we experience, and how we see the world in that moment.
I found considerable power in her arguments. In particular, a bolstering of courage to address the most dangerous of her myths of scarcity – the paralysis of “That’s just the way it is.”
Now I’m wondering how I can get my kids to read this book.