It’s Not About The Money by Brent Kessel
Will Melt Your Fucking Brain
One Line Summary
Buddhist financial advisor challenges all your views on money
“Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today
But if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away”
-Money, Pink Floyd
What is it about money? Some of us want it more than anything. Some of us think it’s immoral. Some of us spend it like no tomorrow. And some of us save every last penny. But one thing is for certain, and that’s that no one in modern society is getting around using it.
This fucking book. It’s incredible. Despite its title, It’s Not About the Money is actually all about…money. The author, Brent Kessel, is an extremely successful financial advisor and practicing Buddhists who approaches finance from a spiritual perspective.
The book opens up with an examination of what he calls “The Wanting Mind” and the 8 types of financial “archetypes” that people fall into. From there, Kessel examines how to properly invest your money and give charity to others while still maintaining your necessary wealth.
Why it’s Awesome
I love Kessel’s concept of “The Wanting Mind”. Essentially, this is the idea that our minds refuse to ever be really satisfied. They are always “wanting” something that usually boils down to love and security, even though it may manifest in many different ways. These manifestations are the 8 financial archetypes, which Kessel absolutely nails. Here they are:
- The Saver. This person who saves excessive amounts of money
- The Guardian. This person is afraid that wealth is always going to go away
- The Pleasure Seeker. This person looks to spend as much as possible while they can
- The Star. This person uses wealth for personal accolade
- The Innocent. This person is bad a managing money in the long term and never seems to have any
- The Idealist. This person believes money should only be used in highly idealistic ways
- The Caretaker. This person feels the need to financial provide for other people
- The Empire Builder. This person is primarily concerned about accumulating wealth and power above all else.
As Kessel explains, there’s nothing wrong individually with these archetypes. For instance, we can imagine that a person might need to be more like a Guardian during rough financial times, but more like a Pleasure Seeker when things are going well. So the problem is not with these archetypes: it’s when you’re a slave to being one of these archetypes that you lack the nuanced ability to handle life.
Thus, Kessel’s solution of The Middle Way, or becoming someone who equally embodies all archetypes whenever necessary.
After readingin Kessel’s in-depth description of each archetype, I found that I mostly fell into the Guardian, the Pleasure Seeker and the Empire Builder. Money was always important in my family growing up, and if you didn’t have it or weren’t working towards it, you were fucking up. So the Guardian and the Empire Builder in me was born. At the same time, there was also a sense that money was meant to be spent. After all, you can’t keep it when you’re dead. The Pleasure Seeker was born.
If at this point you’re beginning to feel anger or frustration towards whatever views towards money you might have developed growing up, realize EVERYONE has gone through this. No one is the immune to the power of social conditioning, especially not the people who were responsible for your own conditioning. So rather than be angry, accept it as something fundamentally human that we must all deal with.
I also love Kessel’s views on investing. I’ve talked about in other posts about how to beat the stock market, but the reality is that trying to do so can be incredibly challenging and should not at all be the goal of most people. You’re not going to be able to do it. Kessel points out the fact that the return of fund managers simply follows a normal distribution, with no inherent ability to perform better than the market. Combine this with the fact that most managers charge insane amounts of fees for their services and you’d be hard pressed to see why anyone would invest with a fund.
The key is asset allocation. It’s not just enough to diversify, you have to diversify in the right way. The percentages each person will choose will vary, but the concept is the same.
Finally, Kessel talks about giving. The book is called It’s Not About the Money because at the end of the day, success with money is not what’s going to grant you ultimate fulfillment and true happiness. It’s not a coincidence that almost every person, rich or poor, will just start giving shit away as they get older. It starts often with parents voluntarily giving up massive portions of their wealth for their kids. But everyone has some “cause” that they HAPPILY and WITHOUT OBLIGATION give back to in some way.
The problem is people wait too long. They think they need to be incredibly successful in order to give back. But as Steven Covey in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People points out, abundance is the natural order of the universe. And almost magically, the more you genuinely give, often the more you receive.
I’m not saying that someone is going to cut Bill Gates for $100 billion dollars because of what he’s done with the Bill and Melinda Foundation. That’s black and white thinking. But rather, his reward is the state of mind he in habits. Presumably of course. I don’t know the guy.
Another example: this blog is my way of giving. I put the best knowledge I have out there because I love talking about these ideas and know they ACTUALLY WORK. That alone amazes me, because there’s so much bullshit out there that to actually find something useful is like a miracle. So giving them away makes me happy. And it causes people to want to follow my blog. The more you give, the more you get.
I heard a great quote from Owen Cook at RSD. He said that “when you become less, you actually become more”. What he is trying to say is the same conclusion Viktor Frankel came to in Man’s Search for Meaning. When you stop focusing on your petty little egoic desires and worrying about yourself, paradoxically you receive more.
There are many reasons why this might be true. But the reason both I and Kessel believe is that because in a spiritual sense, all is One. This concept of separation between anything is entirely in the mind, and so when you flow with this natural order of recognizing yourself as part of everything, it’s like you’re aligned with God. Jesus said in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
That might sound insane. So if you consider yourself a rationally minded skeptic, there’s actually tremendous amount of scientific evidence to support these spiritual ideas. But no matter how you want to look at it, all the math comes out the same way.
Of course, this also doesn’t mean that you need to be some sort of martyr. Universal compassion includes yourself. What’s important is simply the intention in your heart.
Why Does It Suck
I honestly can’t find anything I don’t like about this book. Everything is just on point.
The Wrap Up
This is the ultimate book to handle limiting beliefs you might have about money. Not only will it give you amazing knowledge, it’s loaded with exercises so that you can actually apply this knowledge and use it in your everyday life.
Money isn’t evil. Nor is it good. It’s just another extension of what Is, and it follows the same universal principles as everything else. Spirituality can be found anywhere. So buy this book and watch your life magically course correct.
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Published by Austin Kourakin