Prosperity or money, which would you choose?
Money, that’s what I want!
The title of the famous song above was written by Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford in 1959, first performed by Barrett Strong (*named misspelled on album to the left, song possibly co-written by Strong, see mention at end of post*). The catchy tune was later performed by The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kingsmen, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Stevie Wonder, The Supremes, Jerry Lee Lewis, Cheap Trick, Johnny Lee Hooker, The Flying Lizards, Bruno Mars, David Gray and a multitude of other bands.
What makes this song so popular with artists that don’t need to play covers? One reason is because the lyrics speak to a great paradox that perplexes people when they think about what they really want. Here are some of the lyrics from the original performer, Barrett Strong:
The best things in life are free
But you can give them to the birds and bees
I need money
That’s what I want
Your love gives me such a thrill
But your love don’t pay my bills
I need money
That’s what I want
Let’s get this straight—the best things in life, even thrilling love, are free—but the singer would rather have money? Some might say the words are meant partly in jest but based on the song's popularity, especially as a cover for other bands, there appears to be genuine intent behind the lyrics. The brash statements fly in the face of philosophical teachings from religions around the world like this below, which is one of my favorites:
- Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. - Lao Tzu (Taoism)
This also gets into the difference between charity and empowerment. Giving a man a fish is like giving him money for one meal. Teaching him to fish is giving him a chance at prosperity and eating well for life.
For some reason, most people are hooked on the thought that they need more money. What’s the cause? Is it a fear of poverty, or keeping up with the Joneses, or buying into a common belief that success equals extravagance? It’s easy to fall into those mindsets; people want money and lots of it in order to feel secure and live a carefree lifestyle with plenty of toys. But do you really think that’s the way it works—that simply having money will solve your problems? Of course it doesn’t work that way.
Simply wanting or needing more money will not help it materialize. It's like putting the cart before the horse. Taking care of the business that is before you in the present time is your work in life, whatever that might be. That business before you now is the metaphorical horse; the rewards that follow are the cart. Those rewards may include satisfaction, higher self-value, recognition from others, increased opportunities and also more money. This is how prosperity works, by doing what you do well and continuing from there.
Let’s step back to money for a moment. Think of the main ways you could acquire large amounts of money:
- get inheritance from a relative’s death
- win a lottery or prize drawing
- steal it from another (please don’t)
- be awarded money in court
- earn it through your own actions
Notice how the final one on the list, earn it through your own actions, is the one that would bring by far the most personal pride while also creating opportunity for more money in the future. Even though good things can come with money no matter how it’s acquired, earning it would make you the happiest and be in your best interest.
Prosperity is closely related to life purpose. Prosperity comes from doing everything you do as well as you can. It transforms from actions into accomplishment, recognition, expansion, opportunity and also accumulation of wealth. With prosperity, there is an element of:
- goodness, benefits and well-being
- personal growth
- improvement and victory
- rewards on many levels
- increased opportunities in the future
If you watch interviews with athletes who win major competitions, they never say “I just focused on having that trophy.” They say they focused on performing well in all aspects of their game. In the same way an award-winning actress doesn’t solely practice giving an award speech someday; she practices reading her lines and playing the role as well as she can. The trophy and award’s speech are akin to money; they are by-products of doing other things well.
This is what prosperity is about, taking positive actions in the here and now. It’s a state of mind and a state of physical being. Prosperity is about your unique work and responsibilities, your destiny, personal growth and expansion.
There’s no need to focus on money. In fact, it may be a hindrance if you solely think about money and your perceived lack of it. Instead, if you concentrate on prosperity (achievement, growth, benefit) and do your present work well, the money should come as a result.
How can you attract more prosperity? To begin, limit any negatives in your thoughts or speech that have to do with needing money, which is a lack mentality. Have faith that your needs will be met even if it’s not in the way your ego would ask for it, like a million dollars materializing in your lap. Next, think and speak about the role prosperity can play in your life. Here are some thoughts that will spur your creative juices for more prosperity:
It’s interesting how many songs exist about money. These are just a few: Money For Nothing (Dire Straits), Money (Pink Floyd), Take the Money and Run (Steve Miller Band), Money, Money (Liza Minelli), Moneytalks (ACDC), For the Love of Money (The O’Jays) and The Big Money (Rush).
How many songs are there about prosperity? Clearly not enough.
*The first singer of the famous song, Money (That’s What I Want), was Barrett Strong. In an ironic twist of fate that resembles self-fulfilling prophesy, Strong’s name was removed from the original song-writing credits denying him a share of royalties from a hit that would have made him wealthy. Read more about it in this NY Times article.
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