THE BLOG
12/23/2014 01:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Origin of Money Is Gratitude

The origin of money is gratitude, not Wall Street, not the Federal Reserve and not the Illuminati. We lose track of this because "money" has become the dominant way that we exchange our gifts and talents in today's world.

Because we seek security, comfort, status and protection for ourselves and for our loved ones - and because the world is challenging -- fear, worry, doubt and even anger can be our dominant emotions with regard to our income and outflow, even if we are advanced in meditation and spirituality or quite rich in assets and material goods.

Shifting out of fear and into gratitude is fundamental to all of the things we truly desire -- whether it is happiness, a better planet, a sexier body, more loving relationships and even, to live a rich life. Fear immobilizes you, prevents you from seeing possibilities that lie right under your own nose, and releases cortisol, the "stress" hormone. I know rich people who are histrionic about how much everything costs, who are overworked and stressed out every minute, and who never enjoy their money, even when wearing expensive clothes, sitting in a corner office and eating in fancy restaurants. Of course, I also know multi-millionaires who are grateful for the material rewards of their labor, who feel their finances offer them freedom, who feel loved and in balance, and use their money to bring a lot of good into the world. The former worry they will lose their money and status; the latter are grateful for their blessings and are aware of the responsibility that comes hand in hand with prosperity.

There is nothing wrong with having less money, unless you feel "broke." There is nothing "right" about being rich, unless you feel free. Many people who live the richest lives are not those with the highest net worth. Nelson Mandela was a lot more valuable to the world than Muammar Ghaddafi (and had a significantly more desirable end). And it was the love of the people who made J.K. Rowling as wealthy as the Queen of England -- Rowling started out on public assistance. We are grateful for Nelson Mandela and for J.K. Rowling, and that was why they won their way into our hearts, and why we so willingly made them "rich."

As another way to explain gratitude as the origin of money, I want to take you back in time to when "money" first exchanged hands. Back to the cave.

The Origin of Money
Imagine a family in the Stone Age, living in a cave. On a frigid night, the parents are crying in one corner while their seven-year old daughter lies dying in the other. They have tried everything -- cold compresses, hot broth, prayers, herbs, dances in the name of the Gods, libations and still the fevers rage. Finally, the mother races out into the neighboring tribe and drags the medicine woman, through the snow, back to her home. The medicine woman clears the cave with smoked sage. She lances and drains an infected wound, and administers her special poultices and remedies that, over the course of a few days, save the child's life.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, the father slays a deer. The mother serves a feast for the medicine woman. The father breaks out his mead. The brother scratches a painting of the medicine woman healing his sister on the wall of the cave with a stick and beet juice.

Every morning for the next six months the mother delivers a loaf of bread to the medicine woman -- out of gratitude. It was a close call. She might have lost her daughter forever, were it not for the healing gifts the medicine woman brought to her. And she is over the moon grateful. The medicine woman is thrilled as well. Daily bread means she doesn't have to cook, which leaves her more time to heal, to gather her special herbs and to brew her remedies.

When you think about it, you don't want to risk your life jamming a hot wire into the electrical grid to warm your home or cook a meal. Instead, you write the check to the utility company and are grateful for the light, the ovens and the warmth. (Live a day without it, and you'll definitely be dying to have it back. So, stay with me here for a moment. I know it's hard.) You don't clean the home of your cleaning person, or babysit the kids of your babysitter. You give them, instead, a magic token of gratitude -- money -- which we all agree can be exchanged for other goods.

Similarly, when Tesla builds a gorgeous, 100-percent electric luxury sedan, you are grateful that they made electric cars sexier than a golf cart, with enough battery range to get you to work. You don't want to have to research the technology, mine the lithium, create the leaner/meaner lithium ion battery and then build it yourself. Out of gratitude and desire, you purchase the Tesla S sedan over the gas-guzzler, and invest in the company to boot (if it's trading at a good price and not carrying too much debt, etc.).

As we honor these Holy Days and have adventures with family and friends for the holidays, may we be rich in priceless experiences, love and family -- all of those valuable things that money can't buy...

As we move forward into the New Year and our New You goals, let the 21-day program of The Gratitude Game be your guide to embracing the wealth consciousness and money wisdom of billionaires.

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Photo of Natalie Pace by Mary-Margaret Stratton.