Recently, I interviewed Geneen Roth, author of the new book Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Money and Food (podcast on Divination.com). Hers is the moving story of how, after decades of struggling with (and overcoming) eating disorders, she discovered that the same dynamics were also present in her unconscious relationship with money, and causing her as much psychological pain.
In Ms. Roth’s case, the trigger event that led her to realize her dynamics around money was losing her family’s entire life savings of 30 years to the swindler, Bernie Madoff — a fascinating wake-up call of a tale in itself. The book swings between her true story and the profound learnings that came out of it — lessons that actually apply to most of us.
People deal with money the way they deal with food, she says. Diet and binge translates to scrimp and splurge. No matter how much is available, we feel and act as if there is never enough and we worry about running out. Financial advisors report that even the very rich want to have twice of what they have now, no matter how much that is.
We need to take a look at this “accumulation sickness” — our demand for “more, more, more” (whether it be for money, food or even attention) — because our competitive greed is making us and our planet sick. One chapter of her book is dedicated to the concept of “What is enough?” If we are so driven for more that we never feel contentment, what about our capacity to feel love, gratitude and serenity?
This book helped me to take a fresh look at what money is and how we change our way of thinking for the sake of our own health and happiness. For most of us who are not starving, whether we think we have “enough” or not is essentially a psychological and spiritual problem.