The Stories We Tell
Recently I changed bookkeepers, and last week during my 2nd meeting with my new bookkeeper we went over our cash flow forecasting. She had reformatted the spreadsheet and tidied it up considerably, tracking income and expenses with greater detail than I ever dreamed possible (I’m not a numbers person). As a result the bottom line had changed considerably – in my favour. If you know anything about the yoga business, you know that yoga studios are not generally cashed up, and Shri is no exception no matter how it appears on social media. But 2018 had been a decent year, so with a new set of eyes looking at things more closely this scenario was not entirely out of the question. This was a wonderful and very unexpected surprise.
The effect receiving that information had on me was unreal. Suddenly new doors were opening everywhere. Life was more effervescent. Where I had once felt bound, I was seeing possibility. I felt proud, I felt successful (finally, after 9 years!) and I had an overall feeling of confidence, not just about the studio but in virtually every area of my life.
My new bookkeeper is brilliant, as was my old one, but there was a snafu in the conversion of the spreadsheet from one format to another. A big snafu.
In the time it took to read an email, I went from feeling proud, luminous, content and successful to feeling frustrated, dismayed and powerless… and the ONLY thing in my life that had changed was the bottom line on that spreadsheet.
After the inevitable dust settled and I got my head around this, my first thought was “What can I learn here?” I’ve had to take a hard look at not only the power of perspective, but at where I derive my sense of value and worth in the world.
In Hindu philosophy, myths are not necessarily meant to be taken as true stories, but more as metaphors for life. The story of Lakshmi is one I’ve always been drawn to. Lakshmi represents value, good fortune, prosperity, splendour and lustre. Not coincidentally, she is also known as the goddess of Shri. But the abundance she represents isn’t limited to numbers on a spreadsheet. Lakshmi also represents wealth in areas like character, wisdom, relationships and health, and she encourages us to cultivate these qualities even as we encounter challenges on our journey.
In situations like the one I experienced today, my default is to to straight to scarcity thinking and focus on what isn’t working. Lakshmi reminds me that my life is virtually smothered in abundance and it’s always within reach; my family, my vibrant yoga community, my health, a job that lets me work with extraordinary people and see extraordinary places. Lakshmi reminds all of us that often we are the very ones who cut ourselves off from the flow of wealth and beauty in our lives. As we turn a blind eye to the truth of our own prosperity, we become preoccupied with lack and so lack is what we experience.
To cultivate a focus on the non-spreadsheet kinds of wealth, we can start by identifying the simple things that contribute to the richness in our lives. When we remember the things that bless us it creates a fullness inside, an energy of gratitude and plenty that is self-propagating. The more appreciation we foster, the more wealth of all kinds we attract; and the more we acknowledge those riches in our lives, the more grateful we feel. Our work is to position ourselves to receive this abundance by confronting beliefs that limit us, and by continually bolstering our capacity for gratitude.
That bottom line changed, but nothing else has. The story I tell myself about the spreadsheet is completely up to me.
What’s Your Story?