Our new series, How to Succeed without Losing Your Soul, will help you redefine what money and success mean to you so that you can be more fulfilled and aligned with your higher purpose. In this episode, we explore these questions:
• What is success and how do you measure it?
• Why is it so important for humans to achieve success?
• Why do so many people lose their souls in pursuit of success?
• How to lead a balanced life by understanding the Four Human Pursuits from the Eastern Philosophy
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Welcome to CreativeMind Soul Sessions with Debra Berndt Maldonado and Dr. Rob Maldonado, founders of CreativeMind. Explore personal growth with us through Jungian psychology, Eastern spirituality, and social neuroscience in a deep but practical way. Let’s begin.
Debra Maldonado 00:27
Hello, welcome to another episode of Soul Sessions. I’m Debra, I’m here with Robert. We are the founders of CreativeMind. We are introducing a new series on How to Succeed without Losing Your Soul.
Robert Maldonado 00:46
That’s a reference, of course, to the Gospel, which says “What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world, but lose his soul?”
Debra Maldonado 01:00
There’s a lot of conflict between spiritual people being successful, that comes from that, whether you’re organized religion or spiritual but not religious, there’s a lot of that conflict, even if it’s not conscious.
Robert Maldonado 01:13
That’s because it’s part of the culture, part of the religion, part of the socialization most of us go through.
Debra Maldonado 01:22
If you think about all the movies, they did research, 90% of the wealthy people in movies are portrayed as villains. Unconsciously, we’re getting that message that money is bad, success is bad. Let’s start with defining what is success and how we measure it.
Robert Maldonado 01:44
Success has many meanings to many people. Rightly so because everyone has to define success for themselves. But certainly in a cultural sense, in a community sense, we’re given mixed messages, we are told that success means having a lot of money, prestige, material, so forth.
Debra Maldonado 02:12
Success, when I was younger, was defined in my family by getting married and having babies. As a woman, that was your role. It’s also looked upon even as women in this modern age, there’s this stigma around women pursuing success and not having children. There’s always asking “Why aren’t you having children? Did you feel like you missed out? I don’t care if you’re the president of the international bank and multibillionaire, but you don’t have kids, what happened?” There’s a lot of that. Also the pressure on men, that’s the only way they basically match in society. They say that women are looking for success objects, and men are looking for sex objects. Funny, but not so funny cultural pressure.
Robert Maldonado 03:05
There’s a grain of truth in that. But we also get the message, I remember in elementary school, they would tell us “You have to study hard, so you can get a good job.” Which is not necessarily a success message. It’s more like a working message, you’re going to be a worker. They’d be indoctrinating us very early on, not in a wrong way or not in a conscious way, but that’s the message we get from the teachers, the principal, and parents often, that you are going to be a good worker.
Debra Maldonado 03:48
I got the a different message because in my junior high, I was in the homemaker class, we were typing, I’m showing my age a little bit, in the 70s and 80s. Typing and then also sewing, we were in those classes, and really weren’t pushed for college in my culture. We’re very middle class home. I remember I was at a festival in New York City, I was in my 20s, like 22 or 23. All my friends were ready to get married and have babies. I was still single, I went to the tarot reader, and she said “You are going to be a very successful business woman, you won’t meet your true love until midlife.” I cried. I was like “I don’t want to be a successful business person.” We all have a different take, some women are pushed to succeed by their family, with their family values, education, but my family valued love and being a mom. I just remember that idea “No, I don’t want to be a successful businesswoman.” But that changed later in life. How do we really measure success? It’s really this idea, do we measure it by money or social status, or success could be how much you give to the community, you can be the head of the church, you’re doing all this nonprofit, that could be defined as success. We’re not talking about just being financially successful. But think how you’re measuring a successful life? Did I succeed in life?
Robert Maldonado 05:35
We know relationships are important for human beings. Health is very important. People talk about how if you have your health, you have everything. Definitely a big value. But most people don’t recognize it until they lose their health.
Debra Maldonado 05:58
But financial success, don’t you think that there’s sort of a survival mechanism? There’s social survival relationships, but financial successes, “I don’t want to be out on the streets”, there really is this strong, deeper survival drive to make it and not be in financial ruin.
Robert Maldonado 06:20
Yes, but there’s not an evolutionary mechanism for success, that one is socially constructed. Because the research shows, if you have your needs met, if you have food, shelter, basic survival stuff, you’re pretty much happy, you can be very happy, you can be the happiest you can be with just that. As money increases, happiness does not increase. They don’t correlate exactly, the more money you get, the happier you are. That’s not the case. The happy curve levels off, and the money curve can still keep going up. But it doesn’t increase happy.
Debra Maldonado 07:13
People just keep chasing to have more happiness, almost like a drug, if I get more successful it has to be okay, it’s not here yet, I must not be successful enough. That drives people. Let’s talk about the importance of success. It’s not bad to pursue success, because I believe that we’re in a material world of the physical world, what the Eastern philosophy calls Maya, which is this changing world. But it’s all driven by the idea of more life, more growth, more expansive experience that we’re having here in this apparent reality. When we’re not pursuing something, when we’re stagnated, it’s almost as if— when we talk with our clients and students about what their biggest fear is, the biggest fear always comes down to a wasted life.
Robert Maldonado 08:09
If we define success from a more enlightened space, it’s by doing what you love, your purpose, fulfilling your sense of mission in life, you’re doing what really lights you up, what you love to do, you’re contributing to society, to the world to make it a better place. If you can make money at that, of course, that’s okay. Then you can devote yourself to that higher purpose full time, you don’t have to spend time getting money for the rent and those kinds of things.
Debra Maldonado 08:52
Someone told me when I first started as an entrepreneur “Do you want to work full time and do your thing as a hobby, because you feel it’s helping people? You should give it away for free, you shouldn’t charge.” Wouldn’t you be of a better service to them if that’s all you do, instead of just do it a little time on the weekends, and then be stressed out during the week doing something you hate just to pay the bills? Wouldn’t it be great to do what you love and let it be abundant? I love that idea. Let’s talk about why do so many people lose their soul? Especially people I’ve seen in the coaching industry, even the burnout from the health care industry and therapy, people are just burnt out from the pressures of continuing and trying to keep up. Why does that happen? Why do people who start off with a great intention lose their soul on the way? Not really lose soul but not engaged with their soulful work in a way, being conscious of that soulfulness.
Robert Maldonado 10:03
They’re dissatisfied. A few years ago, there was some research worldwide, the surveyed workers, and it turns out the majority are not engaged in what they’re doing. They show up for the job but it’s not what they want to be doing, they’d rather be doing something else. They’re not engaged. Then a smaller percentage is actually disengaged, meaning they’re sabotaging their position in some form. The state of the working world is not in very good shape.
Debra Maldonado 10:50
We’re conditioned to be workers, most of us weren’t raised with a silver spoon and having inheritance, we’re raised to work for money. What I found for me and for a lot of my colleagues and friends, people I know that are entrepreneurs, they can’t turn that switch off that “I have to work hard for money.” They ended up basically making the money the more important part of their mission. When I first started out, there was this hierarchy of coaches. If you were business owners, if you were a newbie and flailing, you didn’t know what you were doing, everyone was like “They’re a newbie.” Then you become a six figure coach, all of a sudden you got an award or something, you reached a threshold. Then there’s a seven figure coach, and now it’s an eight figure coach. It’s just number driven, how much money you make defines your success versus how many people are you really helping? Are you really doing what you love? There’s nothing wrong with making money. But I think what happened for me, I could say from my own personal experience, I got caught up in that. I felt like I wasn’t successful until I reached that seven figure mark. I remember just seeing a coach, all these people on stage that were all successful. I was like “I want to be on that stage.” It was very ego driven. It had nothing to do with helping people, I had to fit in or achieve. It comes from those early days of trying to get an A on your report card, fitting in. There is that driving in the world that we have to prove our worth through our success.
Robert Maldonado 12:36
Ultimately, what we want to do once we find our purpose, we want to have money serve our purpose, because then we’re not working for the money, which is the trap most people fall into. When the rewards are externalized, motivation is externalized, it decreases creativity, decreases satisfaction because you’re not engaged anymore. It’s not about the actual activity of work. You’re doing it to gain something external. Most people feel it, that’s not a good way to do it. That’s not a good way to work.
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Debra Maldonado 14:12
For me, when I reach certain levels, it was like “I’m still me.” It didn’t magically make everything be easier. It’s these false metrics that we follow to prove to ourselves that we’re worth it. I love that quote, I think it’s Lao Tse who says that the victorious warrior brings the victory to the battle versus gets the battle afterwards. It’s as if you’re already successful just because you’re stepping out and doing something you love. If we come from that attitude, it doesn’t matter if we make 100,000 a year, or million or trillion dollars a year, we’re doing what we love. That should be the most important piece.
Robert Maldonado 15:05
Intrinsically motivated individuals are a lot happier doing what they’re doing. Because it’s not about the money. It’s not about the prestige. It’s not about the praise, they’re doing it out of love, out of devotion, out of service to others.
Debra Maldonado 15:25
It’s creating a culture. If you look on Instagram, there was a false facade of the persona of Instagram influencers, where are they renting out mansions for a couple hours for $500 and do their pictures in there. It looks like they’re living that lifestyle. It’s very confusing for a lot of people because people think that’s what success looks like. If I just work a little harder, I can have all those things. They’re impressed by people that are really basically doing a little smoke and mirrors. Maybe it’s the Western culture. What do you think causes that psychologically? Why do people need to show off what they have?
Robert Maldonado 16:10
The biggest mistake people make about money, both rich and poor, all sides, is that they think money has an external value. They think the value is in the money, the gold, the bank, that externalizing again. Money is neutral. It’s socially constructed, which means we made it up, we created it out of our mind. The value is in our mind, not in the money. When you externalize it, you’re making a mistake already, you’re off the track. You’re not working in reality, you’re being driven by conditioning. It’s that carrot that you keep chasing that you never reach, because it doesn’t give you satisfaction.
Debra Maldonado 17:06
The ego thinks that the money will give you something but it doesn’t have anything in it. It’s basically like fighting a shadow on the wall or trying to grab a shadow on the wall, chasing a mirage. It’s culturally driven. If you have a family, a lot of people say the fear of taking risks and going out and doing what they love, the reason they don’t start, or they hold themselves back and take little tiny steps, is because of the shame of failure. This idea that if you’re successful, there’s a pride in that. You read in one of your yoga books, this idea of a false dignity that comes with a superficial success.
Robert Maldonado 18:02
There’s a big taboo about money. People talk as if we’re open about money, we know all this knowledge and have all this knowledge about money, but we don’t. Most families do not talk about money in a meaningful educational way. It’s all quiet, hush-hush. If they do, it’s mostly boasting or one-upmanship, trying to say “I’m better than you” and so forth. Not in a in a creative, meaningful way. The school certainly don’t talk about money. There are many professions, I came through psychology, which was a therapy school. They don’t talk about money, it’s a bad word.
Debra Maldonado 18:52
When we were in New York, you were getting your post-doc, I went to this spiritual networking event in White Plains, and they said “Just remember the rules, you can’t talk about how much money you make or what you charge.” I’m like “Why? Wouldn’t that inspire people?” They were like “No, you’ll get kicked out.” This is business. This idea that business and spirituality can’t mix, and if it does, you’re evil, you’re taking advantage of it. There’s this dark side to it. I think money is really a gift. It’s divine, it’s a tool. It’s not a source of self esteem. It’s not a source of pride. It’s not a source of social fitting in, it’s more. It’s a tool we can use that we have access to. But we have to realize that the cause is in our mind, the money we create in our life is caused by our mind not by working really hard out there to make it happen.
Robert Maldonado 19:59
It’s definitely a tool. Which means you can use it to build a hospital, a school, a community. Or you can use it to build bombs, like we see it every day in the news. The money is neutral again, it is the mind behind it that matters, how it’s going to use that money.
Debra Maldonado 20:20
When we go back to success, if we want to live our purpose, we want to come for what we really want to do. Because the world operates in this financial monetary exchange, we don’t trade a goat for a chicken anymore, or “I’ll work on the farm for a week and you’ll so give me something”. If you’re working with someone who lives in another country, you’re doing zoom sessions, you’re not going to say “I’ll ship a sheep to you, then you’re going to ship back.” It’s just a way we trade, but in itself, it doesn’t really have any value except the value you put on it. This brings me to what you introduced me to, the four human pursuits. This is from Eastern philosophy. Let’s talk about those four.
Robert Maldonado 21:13
I’m gonna have to translate them. I don’t remember the Sanskrit words. Kama means pleasure, enjoying life in general, enjoying food, sex, work, just having a good time, being happy to be alive.
Debra Maldonado 21:38
It’s this sense of pleasures of life. Then there’s artha which I remember because I was thinking, Arthur, that movie from Dudley Moore, he was the rich guy. I remember artha meaning success.
Robert Maldonado 21:50
Very much more like we measure success in the West, about money, about business, about being a successful entrepreneur, having material wealth.
Debra Maldonado 22:07
Dharma, which is also another word use in Buddhism, but this is Hinduism. Dharma means purpose.
Robert Maldonado 22:18
Spiritual purpose, spiritual duty, following a spiritual path of spiritual law. All those three, of course, go together, they’re not separate. Whereas I think in modern culture, we’ve split them, we think of money as a separate element than spirituality, than enjoying or being happy about our sensory pleasures.
Debra Maldonado 22:53
Or spiritual people think you have to not use sexual pleasure, not have any kind of pleasure in your emotions, even overeating, or over indulging in beautiful wine and food and sweets, you have to shut that out because now you’re rising above any kind of human enjoyment, there’s something like you’ll get too attached to it. The same thing with money, I have to push that away. If you do that with a sense of purpose, like my purpose as a spiritual being having a human experience, I’m going to have those human approaches to life as well. I’m going to enjoy my life. I’m not saying we should all drink and have sweets. It’s probably not healthy. But I’m saying that we don’t want to demonize enjoying life and sitting back and having a beautiful meal or enjoying sex, enjoying things that are pleasurable for you. I was just going to wrap up with the success. Your success can be aligned with your ego or it can be aligned with that purpose, your dharma, which is your sacred duty to do what you love, something that’s fulfilling to you. If you just pursue the lower ones, just the sense pleasures and the success on those levels, you will feel unsatisfied, you can have as many lovers as you want, you can have the foods you want, you can have all the success you want, but that excess if without a spiritual grounding, it’ll feel unfulfilling, it’ll never be enough. But the Dharma takes you away or helps you remove the attachment to those things and realize that if you can make it about your soul, purpose to experience these things in this life. Then the fourth one is Moksha, which is my favorite. It sounds like Mocha Frappuccino, but Moksha is enlightenment. It’s a state of higher awareness.
Robert Maldonado 25:01
It is the ultimate freedom and release from the binding element of life, the attachment, or that karmic debt that we incur as we act in the world. Together, you see a complete life, you see a more comprehensive sense of what is a successful life, one that you enjoy, obviously, not in excess, but you find pleasure in just being alive. The other one is that you have to make money or you have to participate in society and use money as a tool to serve your higher purpose, to help others, how can we help others if we ourselves are in need, we can’t. Even Vivekananda, the great Swami said that a religion that doesn’t, or can’t, or won’t help a poor person is no religion. That’s not a spiritual practice, you have to be able to help others around you.
Debra Maldonado 26:15
If you think of kama, pleasure, if you’re focused on success, working 80 hours a week, the pandemic has really awakened a lot of people, the great resignation now where people are saying “Do I actually have to deal with that boss anymore? I’m really enjoying what I do. I can work virtually, what if I became an entrepreneur, what if I changed my life?” We’re seeing a lot of that in our coach training, people are saying “I think I want to be a coach. I want to change careers.” Because all that money is not going to make you happy. Laying in a bed of money is not going to be like feel good. It’s just paper. It’s just an idea. Where we have a body, we have emotions, we have these beautiful senses, sensory systems in our body to enjoy life, our eyes to see the beautiful nature, to touch other human beings, food and that kinesthetic feeling of having something delicious and nourishing ourselves. There’s so much to life that we don’t want to just lock it away. We don’t want to only do that but we want to have all four in balance. If you can have the other three in balance, doesn’t Moksha, the pursuit of enlightenment, naturally start to help you balance out the other three?
Robert Maldonado 27:33
Ultimately, what do all four have in common? The mind, it all goes back to the mind. They’re not really distinct from each other. There’s different activities, different areas we identify in life, but they’re all one. Work can be play, work can be spiritual. Serving a meal or enjoying a meal can be a spiritual practice as well. It’s all connected, it’s simply that it’s good to break them down to see how we measure these things, how we define them. It’s a good way to look at it. I am in balance by enjoying my life and being happy, as well as do my higher purpose. In that sense of sacred duty, I’m also spiritually grounded, and also moving towards liberation, enlightenment.
Debra Maldonado 28:45
As we move through it, because we’re energetic, moving beings in this world, we’re always moving towards something, we’re not a static. We can only move forward, that’s all we can do. If we try to stay the same, thinking “I’m gonna play it safe”, you’ll feel this sense of unsettledness that there’s really nowhere you can go to just shut life off and maybe go to a cave somewhere in the Himalayas, but I’m sure that’s probably not going to be as fulfilling to some people. You don’t have a choice, and in the Gita, this is what Krishna said to Arjuna. He said “This is your duty, you have to fight this war.” You can’t just sit and give up. We’re born in life, we’re born in movement. We’re born to grow, we’re born to live. If we align with that, that’s what will fulfill us is that moving towards something. And moving toward it without attachment is the key. Very simply, you can have all the desserts you want, all the delicious senses, as long as you’re not attached. You can have all the money and success as long as you’re not attached. Dedicating everything to that dharma, the purpose of “I’m here to live my life fully. I’ve been given this life, this precious human life, I’m going to live it, I’m going to make the most of myself.” In the pursuit of higher wisdom that will help you have all those wonderful experiences in life, the sense pleasures and the financial success and being satisfied. That’s what people are searching for. But they’re searching for it in one little pocket or the other, and very externalized versus “I’m bringing the happiness, I’m bringing the victory, I’m bringing the joy to everything I do.”
Robert Maldonado 30:47
That’s a good way to wrap it up in this one vision of everything we do in human life.
Debra Maldonado 30:56
Just to repeat, we have kama, you’ve all heard Kama Sutra, the pleasure, not only sexual pleasure, but all pleasures in life, going to look at a beautiful painting in a museum or seeing nature. Artha, which is the money, success, material wealth, making yourself a part of society. Dharma, which is your purpose. And moksha, which is liberation from the world. When we say liberation from the world, that doesn’t mean we disconnect but we’re not just in ego and attached. It’s an integration of the world and our spiritual nature as one. I hope you enjoyed this episode, we have more in our series on how to succeed without losing your soul. We’re going to talk a little bit more about purpose. We’re going to talk a little bit about money and conditioning and how you can move toward that enlightened state of being and have it all basically and be fulfilled. See you next week on Soul Sessions.
Robert Maldonado 32:03
Stay well, thanks for watching.
Debra Maldonado 32:05
Thank you for joining us, and don’t forget to subscribe to CreativeMind Soul Sessions. Join us next week as we explore another deep topic where you can consciously create your life with CreativeMind Soul Session. See you next time.