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If the game shakes me or breaks me
I hope it makes me a better man
Take a better stand
- Notorious B.I.G.

🌤️Morning, friends!

Stress. It's a word we throw around a lot. Perhaps so much that it loses its impact, becoming shapeless and non-specific. All of us are stressed—but what's the nature of that stress? What's the source?

So I looked at the cold, hard, unfeeling data in the most recent Stress in America report put out by the American Psychological Association. And here are the highlights:
  • 42 percent of adults in Generation Z reported that personal debt was a source of stress in their life. (P.S., these people are ages 15-21, just beginning to enter the workforce.)
  • Nearly two in three Gen Zs ages 15 to 17 report their families not having enough money is a significant source of stress.
  • Housing and hunger—both tied to money—were also significant sources of stress
  • Money was the single highest stressor as reported by adults across generations
  • And by the way, this is not some aberration from reality—it's well-founded stress. Things are not great for most people.
When we talk about stress, we’re talking about money. But as often as yoga is prescribed for stress management, I’ve never been to a yoga class that delved into debt-to-income ratios in the middle of sun salutations.
 
Would you trust your yoga teacher to manage your budget?

I would not.
This seems like a good place for me to throw out some disclaimers. I realize that most or all of the factors that have led to these stats are largely beyond our control. They are consequences of inequitable wealth distribution, a health care system that favors business over individuals, and outright corruption, for starters. Furthermore, it’s easy for me to talk about debt and personal finances, because I was born into the world from a place of privilege. I’m from a middle-class white family, I’ve never been laid off or unemployed, and I don’t have a disability nor any dependents. The odds are stacked in my favor.
 
Nevertheless, seeing the relationship between stress and money is hard for me to ignore as someone who writes a newsletter like this, even though I know talking about it may turn some people off. It makes me wonder, why the disconnect? Why’s it such a stretch to confront money stress or conversations within the context of yoga and mindfulness?
 
In yoga, ignorance is referred to as Avidya. One form of Avidya that I see is this false correlation between financial identity and inner identity. Just as success in wealth can delight the ego, struggles with money creates shame. Bringing issues like debt and personal finances out of the shadows and into open conversation can help us to understand that these realities of life are not a part of us. Your bank account doesn’t make you a good or a bad person. Fundamentally, we are all the same—rich, poor and otherwise. When we can believe that truth, we don’t have to hide from the challenges, and perhaps we can find ways that they connect us rather than create competition.
 
My thesis is that the teachings of yoga could help us ease some of the suffering that money issues bring. And no, the answers are not just “meditate and do yoga” (but you should still do both of those things). Nor will this turn into a personal finance tip sheet (there's plenty of that on the Internet already).

You could think of yoga's role in terms of the sthira (steadiness) and the sukha (ease) of financial wellness. Sthira is about fortitude—using your alertness and care to build a balanced financial life that allows you to do what brings you joy. And sukha is about actually experiencing that joy along the way, regardless of where you are at, including all the curveballs and windfalls.
That is my thesis, thank you for coming to my TED Talk. JK, I'm just getting started. Next week, let’s dive into the sthira and in the throes of tax season confront the notion that money should be kept hush-hush. Let's maybe even get a little uncomfortable about it, as I am already hitting "send" on this.

I hope to provide some balm for your stressed-out soul, a bit of helpful mental reframing, and a platform for discussion in your own circles. If that sounds cool, forward to a friend so you guys can huddle up more intimately on it. And if you’re following along and you have any particular questions or thoughts on this, please share! See you next week.

🙏
Kelly

Future TED Talks* of mine 📖

Here are a bunch of articles that I could write about at length in the future! Stop telling me that I...:
Also, it doesn't matter how old you get, free food never stops tasting good.

*Not actually

💬 Quote of the week 

“But if you are the type to go in really early in the morning and take all of the most desired thing, like the cups of guacamole or the hard-boiled eggs, that’s extremely un-chill.”
Rebecca Jennings quoted in, "How to make meals from office snacks", The New York Times

Editor's note: wow, I couldn't disagree more. Early birds, get yo well-deserved worm. 

Tunes 🎵

Really into this new playlist, and as always have a listen here, and let your ears be happy. 
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