Some of the earliest money lessons for wellness icon Deepak Chopra stemmed from stories and songs his mother told him during his childhood in India.
"We came from a very traditional family that was brought up in mythology, Indian mythology," he says. "My mother would sing us songs and tell us stories. And one of the earliest stories that she sang to me was about two Indian goddesses, the divine feminine. One is Lakshmi and she is the goddess of wealth and abundance. And the second is Saraswati. She is the goddess of knowledge and wisdom."
When it came to which goddess was the right one to follow, Chopra's mother made it clear: "Always try and pay attention to the goddess of wisdom," he says she told him. "Please ignore the goddess of abundance. What will happen is she'll get jealous and then she will chase you." In other words, don't seek wealth; focus on following your interests and curiosity and wealth will find you.
Chopra himself endorses this advice. After all, it worked for him.
He began his career as a doctor and followed his passion to alternative medicine. Today, he's a renowned wellness advocate whose organization, The Chopra Foundation, is working to "democratize mental and physical well-being." He has a new book of meditation techniques, "Total Meditation," and recently teamed up with wealth management firm Personal Capital to emphasize financial wellness, too.
Here are four of Chopra's tips to improve your financial well-being.
"Every month," says Chopra, "put away 10% of your money into savings." This could be both a long-term investment account like a 401(k) or an emergency savings account ― or both.
To kick-start that habit, pay yourself first. "Paying yourself first means that you prioritize saving and investing, just like you would prioritize your housing expense or weekly grocery trip," Kevin Panitch of Just Start Investing recently told Grow. Set up automatic contributions to redirect a part of every paycheck into your savings and investments.
Video by Courtney Stith
"Get somebody to handle your financial matters," says Chopra. "Unless you're an expert, you should not be thinking about money on a daily basis."
It's important to find the right professional, whether you want ongoing advice or some guidance here and there. To find someone trustworthy, ask anyone you speak to about their credentials and professional experience, and check their background.
Free or cheap budgeting apps can also provide guidance, says Chopra. These tools can help you get clarity on your spending and earning and help you keep track of exactly how you're using your money.
"People who are financially secure pay more attention to experiences than products," says Chopra. "They'll spend money on holidays, they'll spend money on vacation, they'll spend money on their families, they'll spend money on education, they'll spend money on entertainment."
People who prioritize experiences over material things don't get as seduced by the latter, Chopra explains. They're less likely to end up buying the latest iPhone, for example, and save money in the long run as a result.
Video by Courtney Stith
Ultimately, our financial well-being is just one part of the bigger whole that is our lives, Chopra says. Consider social well-being, community well-being, emotional well-being, and spiritual well-being — especially since they all intersect.
To achieve financial well-being, it's important to pay attention to these, too, he says. To him that means, "sleep well every night — I pay 100% attention to that — manage your stress, exercise, enjoy healthy, open, loving relationships."
Chopra offers one last exercise to help hone your overall well-being: "Ask yourself, 'Who am I? What do I want? What's my purpose? What am I grateful for?'"
Sometimes really honing in on these bigger life priorities can help direct you toward making smart financial choices, "and then automatically financial will fit into total well-being," he says.
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