I’m happy to report that the car is now back on the road again: a battery ordered yesterday morning arrived an hour later and in full view of a hovering husband (my OH has no faith in my ability not to electrocute myself) was duly installed and the car driven round the block. At least, in light of the Extinction Rebellion protests I’m 50% happy the car’s on the road and 50% feeling guilty. I could plead that out of the thirty-three years I’ve been able to drive I’ve owned a car for only ten; I could say that I only drive when really necessary; I could say lots of things but the fact remains that in the next few years we are all going to have to make some really hard choices if we’re going to survive. It’s a climate emergency and the government has to get on board and stop fiddling while the planet burns. Which is why I fully support the Extinction Rebellion protests – because no matter what inconvenience they may cause, something has to be done and if the government won’t do it, others must.
All of which makes my review of Paul McKenna’s book seem a little hollow. I bought this a few months ago because – well, because frankly I’d like to make some more money; and whilst some of it is very helpful my main beef is that he is very dewy-eyed about capitalism. He seems to believe that the economy can just keep on growing and things will get better and better for everyone. Now apart from being highly sceptical about the ‘trickle-down’ theory I seriously doubt this: not only are economic crashes frequent (the book was published in 2007 just before the last one) but nothing in nature grows for ever; all things are subject to decay and death, so why should the economy be any different? In addition to this he quotes frequently from the sayings of Donald Trump and Philip Green. Now it is true that the book went to press before either Trump got elected or Green did the dirty on BHS staff, but I hardly think either of them were positive role models even before those events.
However, there’s enough in this book for me to say that I’ve found it useful. As with the sleep book he suggests NLP techniques and visualisations to help you realise your internal blockages. One of the most helpful aspects to me was the section on envy and resentment. I realised that I suffer from this a lot; when I look at wealthy people I tend both to envy and resent them and to think how much better I would do in their place. It’s hard to overcome resentment, particularly when you think about people like Trump and Green, but McKenna suggests that instead we should not only visualise ourselves doing well, but think of them doing even better. I chose to interpret this as seeing both Trump and Green behave more compassionately and generously to others, and it really helped.
In the end I can get on board with his approach because he talks about riches being ‘your highest values’ rather than money per se. He uses the phrase ‘wealth dysmorphia’ to describe someone whose perception of their own wealth is totally skewed; someone like Getty, say, or Rockefeller. The nauseating references to Trump and Green are offset by quotes from Gandhi and Anita Roddick and we are encouraged to think about what constitutes our highest good.
I am not a proponent of the so-called ‘prosperity gospel’ – I consider it incoherent and out of step with Christian values – but neither do I sign up to the need for poverty as an approach to spiritual enlightenment. Rather, what’s needed is detachment: as Frieda Stark says in the Nicci French books, you should never own anything you wouldn’t mind losing. But if money can help you to achieve your highest values, why not get some?