Creating a totem for yourself

Fondling notes and coins

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On any given day of busking, I earn between five and thirty dollars in tips.

Which isn’t a ton of money, but that’s not the point. Because the significance of that currency far exceeds its monetary value.

In fact, a friend of mine once asked me if I did anything special with that money at the end of each performance.

Absolutely. It’s one of my favorite rituals. I roll that money up into a tight little wad and stuff in my back left pocket, opposite my wallet. That way, whenever I’m not busking, I can still feel that roll of money as a totem of several key principles.

First, the marketplace rewards honest labor. Make no mistake, busking is hard work. Both physically and emotionally. Singing and playing original music, in public, as loud as you can, for two hours straight, for complete strangers, requires courage and stamina and skill. And so, every time a patron smiles and drops a dollar into the my case, I know that I’ve truly earned that money.

The second reason I keep the roll in my pocket is to remind myself that no amount of money is insignificant. A dollar is a dollar. And even if I only earn a few bucks each time I perform, those bills accumulate quickly. Compound interest is a beautiful thing.

Third, the roll of money locks me into a prosperity and abundance mentality. Remembering that wealth is flowing into my life from all directions. And believing that my work is a welcome presence that creates value in the world.

Finally, keeping that wad of ones in my back pocket makes it easy for me to leave tips for other buskers. Those kindred spirits of the streets. Those fellow artists foolish enough to put their whole heart on show. By tipping them, it keeps the gift in motion and keeps money in circulation. Trusting that once my roll is depleted, I can simply grab my guitar and go earn some more.

This reminds me of an intriguing study conducted by a marketing professor who found that handling a wad of cash may actually be as good at killing pain than ibuprofen or aspirin. Researchers revealed that those who counted money before taking part in an experiment where they were subjected to low levels of pain, felt less discomfort than those who did not.

Fondling notes and coins, they discovered, helped ward off pain by boosting feelings of worth and sufficiency. After all, humans start experiencing events with money starting when they’re three years old. And so, each person builds up these associations over time into a very thick construct that can be elicited simply through touch.

Holding the money, then, illuminates the neuronal pathway and ultimately reduces pain. The significance of the currency far exceeds its monetary value.

The lesson, then, isn’t to become a street performer. Or to start carrying around a wad of cash everywhere you go.

Rather, to create a totem for yourself. A positivity device. Something personal and tangible that helps you point to a larger picture of meaning.

What’s your version of fondling note and coins?

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Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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