A Course in Miracles states that there are only two emotions, love and fear. All other emotions are derivatives of those basic feelings. Of the two, which emotion have we primarily seen at work in our economy over the past several months? Of course, the answer is fear.
When I worked in the securities industry years ago, we said that markets are driven by fear and greed. Greed is the operative that fuels run-ups in the markets as investors try to make a buck (or a euro, in this global economy). Fear causes sell-offs like the stunning one we’ve seen in the markets over the past month.
Recently, I’ve heard people speak fearfully about their diminished investment accounts and 401k’s. I’ve heard people express fear about the security of their jobs. I even heard one friend express concern about the balance in her child’s school PTA bank account, which was approaching the $100,000 limit of the FDIC insurance.
Fear is a normal reaction to what’s happening to us. Fear has its good side – it can make us more vigilant and more careful about our money, which is not a bad thing. But fear can paralyze us and cloud our thinking. I can’t tell you how many people have told me they are about to cash out all their holdings. I admit to thinking about it now and again – wouldn’t cash be safe! This is a normal, fear-based reaction, but is not a wise or prudent action. Selling now would be counter to the market’s basic rule of buy low, sell high. Selling now is selling low.
So, how can we choose love at this time?
First, we need to remember several spiritual laws. The first is “As within, so without”, which means what you think about, comes about. The Bible expresses this as “So a man thinketh in his heart, so he is.” In other words, if you believe that this is a disaster, it will be so. The second is “Within chaos comes opportunity.” We know this to be true in our own spiritual development - a crisis such as a divorce, serious illness or death of a loved one causes short-term chaos but can initiate tremendous inner growth in the long term.
If you are fearful about being laid off at work or about business in general, here’s what you can do to replace fear with love:
- You valiantly choose a positive outlook as you walk in the door, refraining from gossiping or speculating at the water cooler (or via IM) about who’s going to get the ax and how bad it is at the office.
- You look for more ways to make your boss look good.
- You immediately revive your professional network both within and external to the company, taking time to go to lunch with others, catching up with people who you haven’t seen in months and listening for opportunities.
- You apply for jobs, perhaps even ones that are beneath your current abilities, but that could parlay into a better one in the future.
- You check your internal thoughts several times a day to make sure that you are clear within so that you send “good vibes” out to others, knowing that the energy will be returned to you.
- You look for the good in every situation, and express love in the form of appreciation, respect and integrity at work.
Choosing love also means to look for the opportunity in the downturn. Sandra Yancey, CEO of eWomenNetwork, says that recessions are great times to buy whatever you need, “because everything is on sale!” Warren Buffet said the same thing about stocks last week in an opinion piece in the New York Times entitled, “Buy American. I am.” Buffet related that in his personal investment account, he is buying up solid American stocks because he believes that they are cheap now and will appreciate in the long term. My colleague, Jean Keener, of Keener Financial Planning, has this sound advice: “Recessions have historically been fantastic buying opportunities. If you’ve got cash in hand that you won’t need for at least 5-10 years, this could be a rare opportunity to be brave and benefit financially in the long-term.”
In what other ways can you choose love by looking for the opportunity in the downturn? Think like a contrarian! Think about starting a business or going back to school. Look for side businesses that are recession-proof. At the grocery store last week, I stopped by a wine-tasting display where the woman behind the table proclaimed wine a recession-proof business. I guess we need to drink more now than in good times! How can you find a recession-proof business like wine?
As for me, I’m doing some major contrarian thinking. I’m starting a new business, based on spiritual intelligence, in a recession! Crazy! So here is my vision: In this tough time, I picture myself planting seeds that need watering, weeding and fertilizing before I can harvest the fruits of my labor. Most of the seeds will bear fruit when the economy revives, but I leave room in that vision for some seeds to germinate and mature overnight like Jack’s beanstalk in the fairy tale.
Even if you know that keeping a positive frame of mind is good for you, it’s easy to fall into fear during these uncertain times. Click here for a quick visualization exercise that you can do to gain perspective and loosen fear’s grip.
For your own happiness, choose love. For the betterment of your career, choose love. Because life is short, choose love.