Podcast #3: Uncovering the Intelligence of Uncomfortable Situations

Given the intensity of day-to-day life, it isn’t always clear how to apply Mindful Finance techniques.

If you’ve found yourself in heightened interactions where deep breaths and quiet contemplation just aren’t feasible, then this is the episode for you.

In this 17-minute podcast you’ll also discover:

  • How Mindful Finance curbs indecision and procrastination
  • How finance is fertile ground for growing a sane life and a compassionate society
  • How spaciousness gives both advisors and investors edge
  • How small acts of reflection can be part of an enormous transformation

Listen to Episode 3 below…


Episode 3 Transcript:


Jesse Grimes: Hello everybody and welcome to the mindful finance podcast. My name is Jesse Grimes.

Sol Halpern: And I’m Sol Halpern. We’re from MIFI Wealth, a mindful finance company where we join matters related to money and matters related to personal experience. At our firm we strive and work day to day to join mindfulness and finance. And we see it as one of our goals to push that idea out there in to the world as a good way to relate to your finances.

Jesse Grimes: So today we’re going to explore how bringing mindfulness and finance together can actually be a real benefit to you in your day to day life, not in a theoretical way but in a real practical way. And so that will be the exploration. We have some ideas we’d like to share with you and then from there we’ll dive into a further description of a technique that we can use based on what we did last podcast. In preparation for this podcast I have gone back and looked at some of the things that you’ve written, Sol, around mindful finance and I thought it might be interesting if I pull out a few of these quotes from you and ask you just to explore or dive a little deeper into some of this stuff. So the first thing that I came across was you’ve talked a lot about how sad an idea it is that financial matters are not looked at a lot of times as being a key to sanity. And so I just wondered if you’d dig into that a little bit.

Sol Halpern: I don’t know if it’s from the mindfulness training or if it’s just an idiosyncrasy of me personally but it is always fascinating to me to flip things on their head a little bit and kind of reverse what people would actually think is going on to get at some truth. So what I think is sad about the fact that people don’t view their financial lives and the financial world, in general, as a source of potential sanity is that it really shortchanges the situation that truly exists which is that we all have financial lives personally and also as a society we’ve created a gigantic financial construct that really influences a lot of day to day real people all of the time. What we’re really seeing there is a great opportunity to run into the things that challenge us and that help us grow as people. So it’s sad that sanity isn’t viewed as a piece or a goal of finance because of the fact that it’s such a ripe area. There are so many emotions. There are so many interpersonal situations and experiences and thoughts and intelligence and other things that happen in our relationships to finances, that we can grow from as people if we pay attention to them. So there’s this huge opportunity there to learn about ourselves if we apply mindfulness and curiosity and playfulness even to our finances.

Jesse Grimes: Is there a time recently in a client meeting where you really saw the benefits of bringing in this notion of mindfulness into their financial picture?

Sol Halpern: I find the benefits of this all of the time in meetings with clients, in particular, on the interpersonal level when we’re interacting with each other. Recently, a client asked me if bringing mindfulness into the financial picture and investment management could be categorized or quantified as a way to produce excess return and if that was provable. And I kind of laughed and he did too and, of course, that’s not something that we can isolate as a factor for outperformance. But when I explained that to him he looked back at me and gave me a smile and said, “Yeah, but it sure does feel better.” So I think that’s an example of the benefits there that relating to your finances becomes much more playful, enjoyable and worthwhile. You just want to create a space where they feel that they know they have permission and also encouragement to pay attention to whatever it is that they’re experiencing either physically, emotionally, whatever as intelligence at work. And that they should bring that into our meeting because from that we’re going to make better financial decisions for them.

Jesse Grimes: And so in a sense you’re really saying that in that situation you’re creating the space. But ultimately the goal would be that people could create that space for themselves. And when they create that space for themselves they’re able to really pay attention to what’s actually going on for them with respect to their finances and that will just naturally lead to better decisions.

Sol Halpern: That’s right, Jesse. Yeah, that’s exactly what we experienced.

Jesse Grimes: I’d be interested to hear more about this nonjudgmental piece that is associated with mindfulness because it feels like when you’re talking about money it’s pretty easy to quickly go to one side or the other. Either these are really helpful emotions to have about money or these are really bad emotions to have about money. And I’m wondering what’s the benefit of the range of emotion around finances?

Sol Halpern: The view that we want to encourage in people from a mindful finance perspective is that all of the things that they experience in the context of working with their finances are intelligence at work. So if you are getting very anxious, or if you’re sweating or if you’re feeling uptight or if your stomach is upset, all of those things which we might normally want to gloss over or even run right over is actually not the right way to deal with them. The actual correct way to work with that is to see that’s actually your intelligence at work. And when we do that we find that we have this huge deep resource of intelligence at our fingertips for making financial decisions. The encouragement there is for people to become aware that that’s the right technique to use themselves and then also as an advisor, you know, my practice is to make sure that they know that that’s what I want them to share with me so that I’m able to help them make better decisions.

Jesse Grimes: What are some of the things you’ve seen over the years when people really just don’t have a level of awareness around what they’re going through with money or when the judgment becomes so strong that they end up not wanting to relate to their finances?

Sol Halpern: Well, we all fall into that situation. So there’s nobody who is outside of having had that experience at least from what I can tell. I know I go there and I know that also most of the people who I work with at some point I even get to see them go there. What happens in that situation is that people end up making decisions that they don’t follow through on. So you go out of the meeting, you’ve kind of sort of said to your advisor and to yourself that you’re going to do this and you just don’t do it.

Jesse Grimes: Do you feel that relating to finances from this perspective of mindfulness could actually be an antidote to greed both personal greed and societal greed?

Sol Halpern: Yes, that’s definitely something that we’ve talked about as being one of the big or lofty goals. And we have a lot of really big and lofty goals when it comes to mindful finance because of the fact that we want the world to change for the better. And we want the way in which everyone societally relates to each other into the financial aspects of the society to be filled with compassion and with generosity as opposed to greed and fear. There is this potential that if people relate with mindfulness and you develop the natural qualities that come from that of openness, curiosity, playfulness, cheerfulness, clarity you’re going to have a situation where your decisions are going to be affected by the fact that you’ve done this. And it’s not going to feel good to you to do something that you know is actually not in someone else’s best interest. We’ve even had experiences in the last five or six years of the financial industry people just flat out I don’t– I want to use the right word for it but not doing things that were good for their clients or for other people, just actually being extremely destructive to our society.

Jesse Grimes: As we marry this mindfulness and this finance, I’m wondering if you have a sense sort of bigger picture, what’s the end game here? What’s really possible with the marriage of these two things?

Sol Halpern: The marriage of mindfulness and finance has a huge potential to change the world. And from a societal perspective what we are talking about here really is transforming things. We want to transform the investment advisory industry. We want to transform the financial industry in general. And we want to transform the way that the world thinks about money and the decisions around money both in business context and then also in personal lives. There’s so much desire to live in a society and in a world that has harmony as opposed to strife. And that’s what we’re getting at here with mindful finance ultimately is saying this is a huge part of our society that creates a lot of confusion and pain and it doesn’t have to. It should actually be seen as an opportunity for us to really dig into something ad work with it. And it turns out there is actually a way to do that and it’s just applying this mindfulness technique which we went over even last week as simple as that. Once you engage with that kind of practice, your whole way that you view your life and the decisions you have to make become imbued with more personal clarity, personal insight and compassion. And as a result of lots and lots of people making their decisions that way the whole world changes.

Jesse Grimes: So we’ve talked about the transformative nature of bringing mindfulness into our financial lives. In a sense, when we use the word transformative it can sound really huge and on the one hand it is really huge. On another it’s just very simple. We’re talking about some simple techniques here, some simple concepts. When we have a really thick storyline in this case let’s say about our finances and when we’re really beating ourselves up that really effects how we see ourselves and by virtue of that how we see the world. And so the transformative quality here is if we could actually cut that storyline, if we could come back to our breath or come back to the present moment, if we could look at our financial picture without judgment we start to be much more gentle with ourselves. And, again, if we’re more gentle with ourselves we’re going to be more gentle in our interactions with others and with the world. That can be quite transformative in a very simple way. Moving into sort of expanding on the meditation practice that we learned in the last podcast the idea here is there’s a real time and a place for formal meditation, the way we talked about it in the last podcast where you’re setting somewhere quiet. You’re really working with a meditative posture. You’re coming back to the breath. And I think that really begins to develop a real, grounded meditation practice. What I have found starts to happen is we really start to build that muscle. We build the muscle of being able to have glimpses of coming back into the present moment. But we’re not simply doing meditation so that we can have these little glimpses while we’re on the cushion. We obviously are doing it so that we can actually bring that mind into our relationships with our loved ones and our family. We can bring that mind of present moment into our interactions with our employers or employees or whatever the case might be. That can be a little trickier right. There’s a lot more going on. There’s a lot more strong emotion potentially happening. So we’re engaged in some kind of intense interaction with a loved one or an intense emotional situation around our own finances. And instead of necessarily bringing our mind back to our breath which might be really hard in that moment, we maybe just bring our awareness into the redness in our cheeks or the heat in our chest, or the grumbling belly that we’re having. And we actually bring our awareness back to that. And the attempt there is to decrease the storyline, to decrease the sort of you’re wrong, I’m right, whatever the case might be and to just feel that emotion. As Sol said earlier, feel the wisdom that’s in that emotion, just feel whatever is going on that we could actually just sit with that without having to act on that. Instead of having knee jerk reactions and actions we could actually just feel whatever emotional context or feelings are coming up for us and just being there resting with that and really working on having a lack of judgment around that. I want to expand on the meditation technique from the previous podcast. And that was a bit more of a formal meditative technique where we were coming back to our breath and using the breath to come back to the present moment. And obviously it’s a very strong technique and one that I encourage everyone to do more of. We’re not just doing that so that we can have these little glimpses of the present moment when we’re sitting on the cushion. In fact, we’re doing that to strengthen that muscle, that muscle of coming back to the present moment nonjudgmentally so that it can be of benefit to us in the world. It can be of benefit to us as we engage in our financial picture. So an example there is recently in a client meeting what started to happen was a lot of intense emotion started to arise for that client as they were thinking and talking about their finances. And so as we start to think about how to bring mindfulness into that situation what became clear was having that client just take a meditative posture and come back to the breath was not really possible or accessible in that moment. And so really the technique at that point became helping that client to just start to feel the intense emotion that was coming up for them. So just to first notice it. Sort of saying, okay just notice what’s coming up for you right now, name that, name those emotions that are coming up. Not the storyline associated with it but actually just the emotions. What’s coming up for you? And as the client started to just name those emotion and drop the storyline around it something did start to happen there. They were able to just notice actually that was happening for them. They were able to use that noticing to start to just come back and to hold their seat and it started to change the whole quality of that meeting. Again, it didn’t necessarily make the emotion go away. But what became a clear was what was most intense about what was coming up for them wasn’t actually the emotion itself it was this really intense storyline that was happening there. So the instruction there was about just coming back, using the emotions almost as the reference point to that sort of meditation and coming back to just noticing what was coming up. I think a really important aspect of bringing this meditation into your daily life is really something about curiosity. So that when we’re embarking on our day to day activities and we have a big burst of emotion whatever that might be, good or bad there’s this moment where instead of just that leading us like a fishhook through some doorway. Actually when that emotion comes up we look at it as an opportunity. We look at it as an opportunity to be curious, to be excited, to be inquisitive. What’s going on here? What is that emotion about? Where is it coming from? And using that really in a sense to help us come back into our present moment and to be curious about that.

Sol Halpern: Thank you so much for joining us for this podcast. For Jesse and I, we’re really excited to be continuing to share these mindful finance thoughts and also goals. Really the whole point here is we want to make an offering to you that benefits you and brings about good things in the world. In our next episode we’re excited to share with you what mindful finance brings to the investment process, portfolio building and choosing as well as monitoring and how that space and clarity that comes from mindfulness effects investing. And we’re going to share with you the idea of a personal return on investment. Thank you so much for joining us.

As Seen In

“Relating to our personal finances can be very destabilizing. Feelings of peace and confidence are often masked by obsession, uncertainty or fear. Most people have developed strong, habitual patterns with respect to their financial lives, including taxes. Mindfulness cuts through these patterns and can allow us to see money matters more clearly, and accomplish positive change.”

Solomon Halpern

New York Times logo for quote
The New York Times

“Mindfulness allows our personal experiences, narratives, and emotions to become valuable tools rather than distractions to our financial planning.”

Solomon Halpern

Mindful Magazine M logo

“There seems to be a lack of synchronicity, a separation from the financial self.”

Solomon Halpern

Wall St Daily


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