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Riches: A Matter of Consciousness

Just how rich is rich? This is a question you may never have thought of. Most people would like to be rich; but, if you were to ask a number of people the question: How rich is rich? you would get a variety of answers.

I can remember the time when I would have felt rich if I had had a thousand dollars. One day, in New York, I was having lunch with a well-known Wall Street investor. His wealth was consistently fluctuating from a million or two up to several millions.

During our conversation, and with a quite serious expression, he remarked: “I’ll have to draw in my horns a bit; my accountant informed me that I was down to my last million.”

You see? Riches are relative. What may be considered riches by one man may seem a mere pittance to another.

I doubt if a man who considered a thousand dollars—or even five thousand dollars—riches, could imagine himself as a millionaire.

Yes, he might envy a millionaire and think how wonderful it would be to have a million, but he could never see himself as owning such a sum of money.

On the other hand, a man with a millionaire consciousness could not think of a thousand dollars as anything except pocket change.

If riches is a matter of consciousness, how does one go about gaining a rich consciousness? This is the big question, and the answer is not too easy to understand.

To those of you with little or no money, permit me to ask this question: Would it be difficult to imagine yourself with $100? No! You could immediately think of many ways whereby you could accumulate such a sum. All right, a question to those accustomed to having on hand a million dollars or more: Would it be difficult for you to imagine yourself possessing a million dollars more than you now have? Not at all! Your reasoning powers would quickly conceive ways and means of adding such a sum to your present fortune.

These questions—and their answers—give us the key to the first question: How does one go about gaining a rich consciousness?

It is a matter of reaching the point whereby you can see yourself as possessing a million dollars or more. Bear in mind that this does not mean wishing for a million, it means actually seeing yourself as a millionaire.

If you were thin and sickly, it would be impossible for you to see yourself in successful physical combat with a husky strong man, wouldn’t it? You would have to train and prepare yourself.

The same is true regarding a rich consciousness. If you have been seeing yourself as being in strained circumstances, you would actually have to train yourself to reach a point where you know—without doubt—that you can be rich.

To do this will be just as simple as you want it to be—or just as difficult as you see it to be.

Let me repeat a motto given in the early part of this book: “A man may plod along for years without showing any signs of accomplishment, when sometime . . . unexpectedly . . . a powerful thought will seep into his mind—and a leader is born.” There is a man of my acquaintance who amassed a fortune without ever being able to leave his wheel chair. Did he do it by thinking of himself as a poor unfortunate without means? No! A powerful thought seeped into his consciousness that mind— not body— was all-important in accumulating money, and that his mind was healthy, and intact. He determined to become a rich man, and he did.

I do not think there is a stronger motivating force than to have a great desire for something you do not possess. If you see something in a shop window, or in a newspaper or magazine that you earnestly desire; if you can reach the point where you can actually see yourself enjoying it, you will soon find your constructive imagination working out ways and means of obtaining it.


How much are you worth? $50 a week? $150 a week? $250 a week? Whether you know it or not, each of us is wearing an invisible price tag. The man earning $50 weekly does not see himself as being worth more than that figure. Yes, he may wish for more; but his inner eyes see him as a $50-a-week man. The same is true with the man earning $250 weekly. He sees himself as being worth that amount.

Let me relate a story of an interesting experience I had in my early life, and one which proved to be a great lesson to me.

I had learned the first principles of advertising from a correspondence school and had obtained a job in that field in New York. It paid a salary of $25 per week.

At that time I had a neighbor who was a department head in a mail-order house, and who earned what seemed to me the fabulous sum of $42 weekly. I envied him more than I like to admit.

One day I read a want ad in an advertising journal calling for a certain type of advertising man. I felt I could fill the bill and I answered it.

It was not long before I received a letter inviting me to call for an interview. This called for great elation on my part as I thought this might be a chance to get an income comparable to that of my neighbor.

I visited the head of the firm who had placed the advertisement and for over an hour was questioned regarding my ability to hold the job.

“Well, everything so far seems satisfactory,” the executive said warmly. “Now, how about salary?”

“I would like to start at $40 per week,” I said with apparent timidity.

I never saw a man laugh more heartily than he did. “Why, you would have men under you who would be earning $25,000 per year,” he remarked, after calming down. Then he came back with a statement which actually jolted me.

“Well, I guess you know what you are worth,” he said as he arose, ending the interview.

Without realizing it, I had been wearing an invisible price tag; I had been seeing myself as being worth from $25 to $40 per week. It was not until I changed the figure on that invisible price tag that I began to climb.

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not trying to imply that a man who is worth only $50 weekly should be earning $100 or more weekly. This would be absurd.

If a man is not satisfied with his present earnings, and if he can visualize himself drawing a salary double or triple what he is at present making, he will develop an urge to improve himself so that he will be worth two or three times as much as he is earning.

Bob Reed had been earning $75 per week which was just enough on which to live and maintain his family.

One Sunday Bob and his wife were invited to spend the day on a motorboat owned by a friend of his. The day was so delightful, Bob, while driving home, said to his wife:

“Honey, wouldn’t it be great to own a boat like that?” His wife agreed it would be.

Bob said little more about it at that time, but when he got home, he took pencil and paper and began to do some figuring.

“How much more would I have to earn in order to be able to afford such a boat?” he asked himself. He decided he would need at least an extra $25 weekly.

So strong was his urge to obtain this means for happy Sunday outings, that he put his constructive mental forces to work in guiding him to ways and means of increasing his income. Bob did not stop at the $100 weekly income he found would be necessary, but kept going. He kept increasing the figure on his invisible price tag until now he has not only a fine motorboat, but has just moved his family into a home larger and far more imposing than the one he left.

It is often my pleasure to address sales groups, leaving thoughts with them intended to motivate the salesmen to greater productivity. I devoted one such lecture to a discussion of the invisible price tag we all wear. At the conclusion of my talk I asked each man to make a promise that from that moment onward he would wear an invisible price tag with a figure at least double the one he had been wearing. I told them that they should not only hold to the larger figure, but should make plans whereby their standards of living would be raised to meet the figure, whether it meant a boat, or a new car, or a new home.

The sales manager later reported that there had been a measurable increase in business closed by nearly all of his men.

One salesman, after my talk, made the remark: “Ah, I don’t go in for that self-kidding bunk.” He happened to be one of the few who did not increase his sales. I wonder just whom he was kidding.

Abraham Lincoln said: “God must have loved poor people, he made so many of them.”

Since we are beginning to learn that riches are a matter of consciousness, we must conclude that a vast majority of all people are poor owing to negative minds; and we will not consider them as coming from God because, at birth, minds are neither negative nor positive. As I pointed out in an earlier chapter, the fears, phobias, complexes and inhibitions we carry through life were instilled in our minds while we were children.

Invariably, the man with a low price tag is one who was always confronted with such remarks as: “Money doesn’t grow on trees,” “Daddy isn’t rich, he had to work hard for every dollar he gets,” etc. This fellow grows up with a mental picture of himself as being forced to work hard for his living. He actually expects to just barely get by.

Such mental pictures will remain with him throughout his life —unless he takes steps to change them.

“If it is so easy to get rich, why isn’t everyone rich?” I am often asked. And, it does seem like a sensible question. The answer to this question is that very few people can realize that it is so easy to be rich. Most people, either consciously or subconsciously, feel that to become rich requires years of gruelling labor. To tell such people that literally all one has to do to change his condition is to change his thoughts, invites skepticism.

There is a fable which illustrates the difference between a negative and positive thinker. You’ll enjoy it, I am sure.

Henry John was a strong man of excellent health, but one who had never been a success in life. He had always envied the man of means, but could never see himself so blessed.

John Henry was a wealthy man, but he had never had very good health. He had always been doctored for one ailment or another. He had always been envying robust men of the type of Henry John and had often said he would gladly give his wealth for the other man’s health.

A world-famous surgeon came to town, a man who claimed he could take two men and, through surgery, exchange their brains, i.e., take one man’s brain and put it in the other man’s head, and vice versa.

John Henry and Henry John got together and agreed to change brains. This would mean that Henry John would be trading his healthy body for John Henry’s wealth and unhealthy body.

The operation took place and for a while appeared to be very successful; but here is what later happened:

John Henry—now a poor man—had been so accustomed to thinking in terms of wealth, that in no time at all he had accumulated another fortune. At the same time, however, as in the past, he began thinking of all the aches and pains he formerly had, and it was not long before he began developing aches and pains in his new body.

Henry John—now a rich man—had always thought of himself as being a poor man. Through unwise investments and foolish spending, he soon had dissipated the fortune he had gained through the exchange of brains. But, on the other hand, he had not thought of his body as being sickly; so, because he never brooded about physical ailments, his body soon became as strong and vigorous as the one he had traded to the rich man.

In time, both men returned to their original condition. The former rich man again became rich. The former poor man again became poor.

In attempting to understand that one must have a rich consciousness in order to become rich, do not associate the procedure with any form of legerdemain. Merely seeing yourself as being wealthy does not mean that this blessing will come to you as if by magic. As you learned earlier, your Creative Mind, with its reasoning faculties, will guide you, in thought and action, to think the thoughts and do the things which will bring about success.


“How will I gain an awareness of riches?” many will ask.

There is a very old proverb I should like to quote at this point:

Seek thy comrades among the industrious for the idle will sap thy energy from thee.

Have you ever noticed that when you spend an hour or two with a successful person—a doer—you leave feeling like doing things yourself? On the other hand, have you noticed that when you spend an hour or two with a ne’er-do-well, you leave with an “ah, what’s the use” attitude?

Until you have made the acquaintance of several worth-while people, it is better to spend your spare time in reading worth while books than to waste it with those who will “sap thy energy from thee.”

Try your hand in doing things which will add to your success.

There was one man who started out by buying an old house, one badly in need of repair. He bought it “for a song” and, in his spare time, put it in livable shape. After getting a tenant, which added to his income, he looked around for another old house. He found one and did as he had done before. In a comparatively short time he had built his income to a point where he was able to expand. On his real estate holdings he was able to borrow enough money to build a large motel, then later a second motel. His estate is now appraised at a figure near $1,000,000. And, when he started gaining a consciousness of riches, he was a butcher working for wages.

There are two words I would like to discuss which have a definite bearing on an awareness of riches, and their opposite, an awareness of failure and gloom.

One word is Faith. We are told by many that success in life is a matter of faith. We often think of the failure as a man of little faith. This is not true. The failure has just as much faith as—if not more than—the man of success.

The other word is imagination. Scores of self-improvement books are built around this word. “One must imagine himself as a success,” the authors will write. “But I have no imagination,” the failures will moan.

Imagination is that ability to see things as they do not now exist. One possessed with constructive imagination will see things as he wants them to be. One with negative imagination sees things as he fears they will be.

Every individual is capable of using imagination; one constructively, another negatively.

I think that one of the reasons why so many people have trouble in raising their sights very high above present circumstances is that the contrast between what they have and what they would like to have seems too great. For example: if a man is down to a total of, say, $50, the distance between $50 and $500,000 is beyond his imagination. Let us do a little imagining: Suppose you had 1¢, would it be hard to double that and have 2¢? Certainly not! And would it be hard to double your 2¢ and have 4¢? It wouldn’t be hard to double your sum many times, would it?

Undoubtedly you have heard the story about the boy who was offered a job with an initial salary of only 1¢ the first month, but with the understanding that this figure would be doubled monthly for a period of 3 years. The boy refused, as most people would do. But he should have thought twice. Start with the number 1 and double it; then keep on doubling the sum for 36 times. For example: 1-2-4-8-16-32, etc. Try it and you will find that had the boy taken the job for three years, the last month of that period would have given him $1,372,796,089.60.

Did you realize that 1¢ could grow to such a fabulous figure in such a short time?

Perhaps you will notice a similarity between many of the chapters you have read so far. This similarity will continue throughout the book.

It would be easy to condense this book to a mere page or two, and in that space give you the basic principles for developing Health, Wealth and Happiness; but, I fear, only a small percentage of readers would get the good I want you all to gain from reading this work.

Throughout the book you are given principles—and applications of the principles.

A principle explained in one way will “ring a bell” with some people; others, may pass over it without gaining its full significance.

It is my feeling that by approaching the principles from many angles, they will “click” with a major part of the readers— all, I hope.


Do you watch for the contests so alluringly featured in newspapers and magazines? Do you burn the midnight oil trying to solve the puzzles, then find yourself disappointed when the list of winners is announced? Perhaps you have had your eye on the $10,000 in cash, first prize; or the all-expense-paid trip to Hawaii.

If you will read this book thoughtfully you will not have to win any contests. You can climb to any heights of which your imagination is capable. You can have your $10,000 with many, many more thousands added. You can take your trip to Hawaii, Europe, or any place your heart desires. These rewards can be definite—not just one chance in a million.

So, my good readers, begin right now making realities of your desires of the past. You can see yourself in a bigger and better home; elegantly furnished—and with your own private swimming pool. You can drive the finest automobiles. You can send your children to the best schools and colleges. You can really make every day of this life a joyous experience.

All right! You are being given the green light. Get set—to GO!

Visit Grow Rich While You Sleep for more articles from this book by Ben Sweetland.