The Psychology of Money (Part 2) – Keith Kurlander & Will Van Derveer – HPP 130
In the final part of this two-part series, we’ll continue our discussion on the role that money plays in our lives and how it can be used as a tool to create more opportunities and experiences, and achieve desires. We’ll also talk about the importance of having a mission or meaning behind the pursuit of money.
Why the Lottery Works So Well – 2:12
There’s a reason that, you know, people are so infatuated with rich celebrities, because there’s a secret desire, and many people somehow are just gonna be rich. And that’s why the lottery does so well.
The Value of Money – 5:44
In other words, the more money I make, the more valuable I am, the more important I am, the more safe I am, the more lovable I am. And then on the other side, sort of the more underdog positions more of the same toward the martyr who claims that they don’t want or need money, and feel like handling money is almost like a sinful, like, sorted thing.
Overcoming Blind Spots Around Self-worth and Self-esteem – 7:38
And this is where wealth can be spiritual wealth. It’s not always a spiritual illness. But I think that the relationship to money, like depending on your relationship to money, it’s just like anything in the world. It’s either a spiritual practice or right, a spiritual wellness practice or spiritual illness practice.
Money Doesn’t Buy Happiness – 16:29
Money is a thing that can increase opportunity for more types of experiences, and things like that, and whatever else, but this money doesn’t buy happiness saying, it’s a cliche saying, I think really comes from money will make you if not more unhappy, if your only pursuit is money and you’re not pursuing meaning in that pursuit, then definitely doesn’t buy any happiness.
Full Episode Transcript
Keith Kurlander, Dr. Will Van Derveer
Keith Kurlander 00:07
Thank you for joining us for the higher practice Podcast. I’m Keith Kurlander, with Dr. Will Van Derveer and this is the Podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health. Even though I claimed I didn’t need a lot of money I was a saver since I was five. I have been saving money, basically, in a piggy bank, since I was five. I always like saving money. But anyways, that’s another piece. That’s interesting. You know, when I think of all the clients I worked with, my experience, and from people I talked to, a lot of therapists that I spoke to in my circles, like they didn’t tend to go deep with clients around money. It’s not like a common thing that goes into therapy. And it’s like a deep process of exploration. And honestly, a lot of therapists haven’t explored their relationship that deeply to money. So it’s a hard topic, if you haven’t done it. I probably was not a great therapist around money early on, because I hadn’t really done a lot of work around it. But I did explore it with them, because I was getting interested in my 30s about it. And many clients that went into the money topics, and I saw a lot of two sides. One side was there were people that just seemed comfortable. And that was cool. I was like, wow, why are they so comfortable? Like, how did they get there? I had like just a batch of people that just don’t have a lot of emotional charge around money. They don’t need a lot of it. They have enough. And it’s done. And there was a subset. So there were those people. And I was always curious, like, how did that happen? But it wasn’t the majority of my clients, the majority, my clients. and I saw a lot of clients over the years, sort of like how the whole thing and they were on two sides. One of them was like they had trust, and they had all this money, and they had a whole thing going on around money. And then the other side had unconscious desires for more money, and many of them are hoping to be rescued. And I think I had an unconscious desire to be rescued. There’s a reason that, you know, people are so infatuated with rich celebrities, because there’s a secret desire, and many people somehow are just gonna be rich. And that’s why the lottery does so well. Lottery works for a reason, right? The lottery works really, really well, at least if we’re talking about this country in terms of how much governments and things can make off the lottery because it works really well because people have a secret desire to gain wealth. But they, you know, feel challenged about how to get there. Right?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 02:47
Yeah, I’m surprised I didn’t play the lottery with how much I wanted to be rescued financially.
Keith Kurlander 02:51
Well, maybe you realized it was a losing battle. That’s why. Maybe you realized you would be poor if you played the lottery, not richer.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 03:01
I was playing in more, maybe a more intelligent version of the lottery.
Keith Kurlander 03:04
Well you were. You manifested something that actually worked.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 03:08
It did work.
Keith Kurlander 03:09
It worked, right. I never played the lottery because I knew it wouldn’t work. That’s why I didn’t play the lottery. I just knew I would be poorer. But I think that it’s important, like, if people get honest with themselves, they have to see where they land with their core beliefs. Not everyone desires more money. And I did meet a subset of people that actually felt really okay with their relationship to money and what they had, and it was not that much money. And they got by and they didn’t feel that stressed by it. But that was, at least in my little anecdotal world, that was a small subset of the people I worked with.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 03:44
Did those people think about what would happen when their bodies couldn’t when they couldn’t work anymore? The ones who didn’t care about money?
Keith Kurlander 03:52
That’s a great question. I don’t know because I don’t remember clearly. Did we get into those conversations? I don’t know the answer about whether they were thinking about their future selves that much. That’s a good question. But all I could say is, if they weren’t thinking about their future selves, or if they were, they still seem to have some real poise around it. But this was a smaller subset. I mean, this was not the majority of people I’ve worked with. The majority of people I worked with are not when they get into their core beliefs, and we explore it and poke around are actually have a lot of conflict about money and have a lot of unexpressed desire, some people feel and are in situations where the obstacles in the path to money is actually really much larger than others. There’s a lot of obstacles in their way, structurally all kinds of things. And so a lot of the people I poked around with now I’m talking about the people didn’t have a lot of money, they often would come to self worth tissues fears that they couldn’t do it, a lot of things came up in those discussions, a mixed amount, people that had a lot of money, that was a whole different thing. of many people, I worked with that kid that had a lot of money, money that was given to them. Many of them had issues around meaning in their life. Not all of them. Many of them had issues of meaning in their life around what creates meaning. So that was, you know, and I’m, again, I’m speaking from a little anecdotal bubble. But I think that there’s something to be said around how many people really take a hard look at their money story from childhood about who they are as an adult about what they really want.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 05:44
Yeah, it’s similar. As I reflect on, you know, the hundreds and hundreds or thousands, maybe of patients that I worked with, over the years, this kind of polarization between people who, as you’ve said, we’re maybe over focused on money as self worth. In other words, the more money I make, the more valuable I am, the more important I am, the more safe I am, the more lovable I am. And then on the other side, sort of the more underdog positions more of the same toward the martyr who claims that they don’t want or need money, and feel like handling money is almost like a sinful, like, sorted thing. But what those folks more like me, who were outsourcing their ways of getting to have the kind of experiences that they wanted to have, without having to be associated or categorized as someone who cared about money?
Keith Kurlander 06:44
Yeah. Well, you know, that evolves, I’ll just go again to myself for a moment. That evolved for me, right, around the more sort of martyr attitude, or it was more as more of a monastic attitude for me, or something Stetic attitude that evolved into that money, the flow of money, in and of itself, can be generative, if you relate to it that way. And if you’re able to stay present and connected to what’s meaningful, and how you can help the world, the flow of money can be extremely generative. And then I had to face harder problems, which were all the ways that I got in the way of earning money. And, you know, whatever else, the challenge is outside of myself, for me, a lot of it was myself. And that was hard. And that’s been hard, which is, you know, what, how do I overcome my blind spots around self worth issues and around discipline, effort, efficiency, productivity, strategy, staying in a state of presence and magic, like, how do I work at that in a progressive way? And this is where wealth can be spiritual wealth. It’s not always a spiritual illness. But I think that the relationship to money, like depending on your relationship to money, it’s just like anything in the world. It’s either a spiritual practice or right, a spiritual wellness practice or spiritual illness practice. And I went in thinking, as a young adult, it can only be a spiritual practice, that any practice around money or earning progressively more money I went in, in my early 20s, mostly, I had moments right in mostly thinking that was a spiritual wellness practice by default. And I think this is where, you know, I think it’s really important to not put people in a box about anything, like, until you really get to know a person, you don’t know what meaning is behind what they’re doing. And, you know, if we’re talking about money, specifically, sure, we could, we could probably assume we can tell when someone’s acting out of very impulsive places and just be like, Well, that’s an impulsive thing. We don’t like that. But you don’t really know where people’s strategies are coming from. And so for me, something that has really developed over the years is really understanding money as a spiritual wealth practice, where it’s like, I can serve more people, I can help more people, I can create more experiences for people, I can create more experiences for myself, self and other practice, and I can reach more people. There’s other ways to reach people. But this is one way. So as that opened up, my access to money opened up, and my desires opened up, which was cool. And I just happened to turn out I’ve got some nice sized desires, I don’t have crazy, huge desires, and that’s fine if people too, but I do have desires that cost money inside of me. You know, I’m learning to love those more and more as you’ve seen, and that can become a beautiful thing. But once you start loving those desires, now you’re faced with Are you gonna go try and get them met or not? So when you really open yourself up fully to living in and owning those desires in ourselves, then you have to confront and go, well, one is there any way I can even do that, because for some people, there’s not I mean, there are situations like being in jail, there’s a lot of situations where the road to is super steep and long poverty, there are situations that the challenges are very different. But you do have to confront if you really explore in yourself, what are my financial desires, which I think every person listening right now should go and really look at? What are my true desires that I want to achieve with money? What are they? And then you have to ask yourself the question of am I willing to try and make that happen even if I fail? That’s a different journey. And you’re going to succeed at some and fail at others.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 10:51
In all honesty, I’m still struggling with accepting my desires, generally, in my life, you know, and the desire to have experiences that cost money, the desire to stay in a nicer hotel, and not a crummy one, the desire to see a doctor who doesn’t accept insurance, for example, the desire to take care of myself with excellent food and high quality, vitamins and supplements, you know, these are all things living in a nice neighborhood, sending my daughter to private school, you know, all of these things add up. And, and, yeah, I think that there’s a you know, we could we could probably talk for another couple hours, at least about desire and how our culture relates to desire as a thing, but I’m still working out my own shame or my own relationship with allowing myself to desire things.
Keith Kurlander 11:51
Yeah, I am, too. And you know, there’s a layer in here, which is important, which is how does the individual’s desire affect the community? Or society? That’s a really important and complex conversation? Yeah. How does the individual’s desire to accumulate very large amounts of wealth affect the greater whole, that’s an important, very interesting thing. And we live in a capitalistic society. So there’s a big disparity in our society because of capitalism. And I mean, I don’t necessarily want to go deep down the rabbit hole right now, personally, of sort of, I’m not well versed enough to get into economic theory to go through that. But I think what I know, personally, is, I feel that if you’re really in touch with your heart, and your value of how you want to serve the world, that you’re probably on the right track. If you’re not, you know, in some big, like, threat response, and yourself, and you’re confused about your values, but you’re really in a relaxed state, you know, those values tend to support the whole as well as the individual. That’s just my opinion, that might not be true. That’s probably debatable. But that’s what I see at this point in my life. So I do believe that releasing desire in ourselves as individuals, when we’re present and staying connected to our heart as a practice, like I think it’s a very good practice.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 13:21
I’m with you there. I’m thinking about one big desire that came through, you know, partly thanks to you, because you introduced me to Krista and we ended up married and, you know, we’re having an amazing time together. But in the very beginning, when right after we met, we went to a workshop or the self development workshop, and the facilitator sent us home to think about overnight, what the question was, what would be the craziest thing, the most meaningful thing you could do with the rest of your life. And the next morning over coffee, I had this kind of epiphany with tears and the desire came through me of wanting to bend the arc of mental health care globally. And in that moment, I knew it wasn’t enough to just serve individuals anymore for me, and I had this desire to serve in a much bigger way. And the next five years after that, up to now have been just a crazy rocket ship ride with you and, you know, we’re we’re serving thousands of people every year as students, and we’re serving their clients through them and there’s this incredible arc of impact that happened from trusting that desire and deciding to go for it.
Keith Kurlander 14:39
Yeah, and I think my wife has woken me up in a lot of ways around this stuff. I mean, I think she and I both had a parallel process around waking up to mission based service to earn money. And we both started in mission based service, as well. We started without thinking about waking up to money. And so I think that the road of accumulating wealth, for security for luxury, whatever the reason is, right, but, and to give more, and I think the mission based service Avenue, for most is necessary if they want to stay balanced. And if they want to be able to have the most opportunity to balance in their psychology of money, I actually think I have met a small group of people where the game of money is the value, not in not in a negative way, like the movement of money is a value, like I’ve met some finance people, that they love the transaction and the details in the analysis of making money that way. And so that is their value. And they actually are helping, you know, I’ve met some investors that manage large portfolios of people’s clients, and if they’re managing hundreds and hundreds of clients, and everyone’s making wealth, and like, that’s their value. And the value is the math and the movement and transaction. And so I think there are some people where you wouldn’t assume there’s a mission driven approach, but there is where they’re seeking money. But most of the people I’ve met that don’t have a mission behind the pursuit, very, very conflicted stuff going on around their relationship, even if they have a lot of money. And I think that’s where the notion of Money doesn’t buy happiness really comes from because mission buys happiness, service buys happiness, right? Money is a thing that can increase opportunity for more types of experiences, and things like that, and whatever else, but this money doesn’t buy happiness saying, it’s a cliche saying, I think really comes from money will make you if not more unhappy, if your only pursuit is money and you’re not pursuing meaning in that pursuit, then definitely doesn’t buy any happiness. I think that’s where there’s a lot of chaos and internal conflict and things that might make your situation feel a little more secure, that can ease things.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 17:15
At least temporarily. I mean, I think that one of the confusing messages in the media in a capitalistic economy is, you know, if you buy this thing, or if you get this or if you make this much money, you’re going to feel happy. And that hasn’t been true for me whatsoever. Living for a higher cause and pouring my time and life force into a bigger mission is just so easy to get up and want to go work on every day. You know, it’s like, it’s such a blessing to have a meaningful mission to to run after every single day.
Keith Kurlander 17:54
You brought up society. I’m glad you mentioned it out, again, around consumption. I think it’s worth just exploring that a little bit as we’re winding down, I think people can get confused with consumption over consumption as addiction and desire. And it doesn’t mean that if you’re releasing your desire and following it, that now you’re going to be over consuming. I don’t assume that, actually. Because there I think there are balance points inside ourselves to regulate our nervous systems. So that there’s desires that actually they invest in the fulfillment of our lives and the future of our lives. But there’s addictive tendencies when we can get into consumption, where we can over consume, and over indulge. And I don’t think it’s just it’s not just from a fulfillment desired position. It’s more it can be more from an addictive patterning of, you know, avoiding pain seeking pleasure, that type of stuff. And so I think it’s just important to kind of just tease that out a little that just because you’re allowing yourself to feel more and more desire, even if it’s related to wealth, it doesn’t mean that then all of a sudden, you’re going to be over consuming, and that consumption is the same thing as just being able to feel your desire and money. It’s not the same thing. And I think there’s a piece here because we live in a culture where overconsumption is the norm.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 19:17
Right and instant gratification is, I think, what you’re talking about short term gratification, which is a very different thing driven by different chemicals, and in our brain, as well.
Keith Kurlander 19:31
And it’s a cultural condition, right? That we’re driven by consuming. That’s why when you go to a supermarket in this country, and you got a thousand different things of the same product, and you go on to some other countries and you have one thing, where are you going to, you know, a target and there’s like a thousand different toys, and they’re all very similar. And, you know, the evidence to this.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 19:57
Yeah, and the evidence shows that the more choices we have the less happy we are.
Keith Kurlander 20:01
Yeah and I mean, I think that what it does is it, we live in a culture that can easily get stuck in, you know, cycles of consumption or a consumerist culture. So we can easily get confused about what our desires are, that are connected to our values, versus what our impulses are connected to getting a short hit of pleasure, you know, that can get confusing a lot. And so that’s why you see a lot of people over consuming. And so I’m not advocating for getting in touch with all the more ways you want to consume throughout addictive patterning. That’s not a road that leads to more filming. Right, at least still more short hits are a pleasure and a lot more longer hits have been.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 20:48
Exactly. Yeah, I’m glad you made that distinction that’s really important here, when we explore desire.
Keith Kurlander 20:54
Yeah. Well, as we’re wrapping up any last things you want to put in here?
Dr. Will Van Derveer 21:00
You know, I’m reflecting on that. We, you and I now have dozens of people collaborating with us to deliver this big goal, this big mission in the world. And then I will say personally, that there’s a lot of fulfillment in generating the revenue to be able to grow the team and watching people we work with grow, and learn and serve more people. There’s something incredibly fulfilling about that. And it’s been a big shift in my psychology, you know, for over a lifetime of growing up with a mom who was all about working for a nonprofit. And I’m not saying anything negative about nonprofits, I love nonprofits and have worked for them in the past. There’s a huge benefit there. But this is the first time in the last few years that I’ve had an experience of growing a for profit business that is so mission based, and it has the capacity to serve so many people. So it’s a big shift in my perspective about earning and money.
Keith Kurlander 22:11
And the ways money can help. Because there’s a lot of ways people can use money to hurt as a tool.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 22:17
Keith Kurlander 22:17
And there’s a lot of ways people can use money to help as a tool. Well, thanks for the conversation.
Dr. Will Van Derveer 22:23
Keith Kurlander 22:24
Okay. We look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the higher practice Podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.