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We are facing three pandemics right now: Deepak Chopra

'Total Meditation' Author and Wellness Guru Deepak Chopra joined Yahoo Finance’s Julia La Roche on the latest episode of Yahoo Finance Presents to break down the reltionship between happiness and wealth and what a healthy relationship with money should look like.

Video Transcript


JULIA LA ROCHE: Well, I'm pleased to bring in wellness expert and best selling author of multiple books, Deepak Chopra. Dr. Deepak is also the newest member of Personal Capital's Financial Heroes campaign, where he and the company will be promoting the importance of financial wellness ahead of the new year. Deepak, it is such a pleasure to have you.

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Thank you, Julia. Nice to be with you.

JULIA LA ROCHE: It's always nice to be with you. I'd like to start big picture here around the relationship between money, wealth, financial wellness, and happiness.

DEEPAK CHOPRA: So wealth is a state of mind or a state of consciousness that we can call abundance consciousness. The opposite of that is something called scarcity consciousness or poverty consciousness. You can be the richest person in the world, but you can still be poor. And that means you have all the money, billions of dollars but you don't have generosity of spirit, you don't know how to spend the money, you don't know how to enjoy the money, you don't know how to use the money for having good experiences, all you do is you hoard money and then you use money to make more money, to make more money, to make more money, to make more money, and never have the time to enjoy it.

So poverty consciousness governs two kinds of people, the extremely rich and the extremely poor, why? Because their identity is money. The extremely rich confuse net worth with self worth. The extremely rich think that their net worth is their self worth. They think about money all the time. The extremely poor also think about money all the time. So in order to actually have fun generating money, which is the symbolic representation of your values, is to be in abundance consciousness.

JULIA LA ROCHE: It's so interesting that you just brought up there are like two almost extreme ends of the spectrum, the extremely poor and the extremely rich. And those are the folks that tend to be the unhappiest when it comes to money. So you mentioned abundance consciousness, what does a healthy relationship with money look like?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Ask yourself if you had all the money in the world and all the time in the world how would you express your unique gifts? Be grateful for that and you open the door to abundance consciousness. And you know abundance consciousness is not just about money, money is a symbolic representation as I said, for the exchange of values. If somebody's values are pornography, that's how they'll make money. If somebody's values are creating a healthy joyful world, they'll make money through well-being.

If somebody's values are corporate well-being, they'll do good work for their employees, they'll take care of their employees because they know that employee happiness is connected to customer happiness, and customer happiness is connected to investor happiness, and investor happiness is connected to the wealth of the company. So you know, you have to take everything in account, personal relationship, social interactions, workplace, community well-being, physical well-being, emotional well-being, spiritual well-being, all combined give you what we call financial well-being or financial security. So when people have financial security, they're not obsessed with money, they don't-- the extremely poor and the extremely rich are only thinking about money but what kind of life is that?

JULIA LA ROCHE: What is it people can do to kind of unlock that? How do you get to that point where you can have that financial wellness or well-being I suppose, when a lot of folks might be living paycheck to paycheck, they feel beholden to their job. Like how do you get to the point where you can get to the next level and kind of find that unlock there.

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Right now, right now by the way, we have very poor relationship with money and it's the cause of stress in the world. And it's important to have financial tools so somebody can give you financial tools on how to manage what you have. It's also important for the workplace to make sure that you have savings, that you have time for vacation, that you can educate yourself or your children, that you have retirement benefits, so you feel safe.

And that is the new initiative in many entrepreneurial organizations and many businesses. I founded something called JUST Capital where we identify companies that are doing good at improving the world situation. So all these initiatives are helping us move into a realm of more financial security. We just have to use the tools.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Well, Deepak, I'm glad you mentioned JUST Capital. I had Paul Tudor Jones on just last week talking about stakeholder capitalism. Would love to also hear your thoughts just kind of if you look at what's happened in 2020 and a lot of folks have been talking about kind of K-shaped recovery, the widening wealth gap, the haves and the have-nots. What do you make of capitalism's evolution and are we headed in the right direction?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: You know, capitalism is a very brilliant idea. It just gets corrupted by greed and fear. If it didn't get corrupted by greed and fear and had the right intention, as Paul Tudor Jones has with JUST Capital. He and I founded it together by the way, as a result of a conversation I had with one of my students at Columbia Business School, where I was teaching a course on cause driven marketing. And I just mentioned it to Paul and he ran with it and you know, he's made it such a successful thing already. So I think this is the future of capitalism is JUST capitalism.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Yeah, and you also mentioned earlier the responsibility that companies have to contributing to financial wellness. What do you think needs to kind of change in that area, where are some of the opportunities for change when it comes to the corporate landscape?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: I think employees need to be taken care of number one. But they also need to be educated about financial security. So should customers be educated about financial security. So should investors be educated about financial security. And there are tools that we can offer for that, that's part of my partnership with you know, this organization that we are working with.

JULIA LA ROCHE: You mentioned earlier just kind of the sheer, I guess, scope of the challenge here around a lot of folks reporting that they feel anxious around money, their financial situation. I think one of the statistics was 77% of Americans report feeling anxious when it comes to their financial situation and also a lot of depression, also a lot of folks who have depression are probably more likely to have financial problems as well. That really shocked me. I didn't realize just how massive the problem is. Would you mind putting that in context and do you think the pandemic has contributed to this and exacerbated the problem and how so?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Yeah, I should mention that my partnership with Personal Capital is about offering people tools and free tools for financial education. Having said that, it is the responsibility of everyone right now who is in business to make sure that we feel financially secure because financial insecurity and stress go together. Right now we're having three pandemics actually, one is the COVID-19 pandemic. The second is the financial crisis pandemic, people don't have jobs.

And also the fact that we have a culture, we have a culture here where you spend money that you haven't earned to buy things that you don't need to impress people that you don't like. And then you worry why you have all the stress. So financial stress, financial distress, absolutely insane spending habits for things that you don't need. And no education on financial security is creating the havoc that we have. People don't even-- if they miss one paycheck, they can't pay their rent, or they can't buy food. What kind of situation is that for the richest country in the world?

JULIA LA ROCHE: It's a good point that you bring up too and just point out that it's spent, probably a lot of it is like signaling to others or their perception. And I was actually having a conversation my husband earlier, just he scrolled through Instagram, it looks like everyone's got the nicest clothes and the nicest house, so you wonder too, like how much do you think social media contributes to this problem?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Social media allows us to confuse ourself with our selfie. So everybody's self-esteem is based on their selfie and they've forgotten who they are. And that's how we impress people. You know, the statistics show that if you could move to a house, let's say you have a house that's what $0.5 million, but you could tomorrow move to a house that's worth $1 million, but your neighbor's house is $2 million, you won't move. You want to be better than your neighbor.

This is how we confuse ourselves with our selfie. So social media is actually very destructive when it comes to financial security or any kind of security, security about how you look, security about how you feel, security about your relationships. This is all being sacrificed because we do not know how to talk to each other as human beings. We talk through machines and through selfies.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Do you think that's going to change? Are you hopeful that maybe people might realize this and what can they do, like what are some practical things they can actually do to change these habits?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: So you know, we started our non-profit. I have a nonprofit called Chopra Foundation. We started a campaign called neveralone.love, www.neveralone.love. And this was because people, every 40 seconds somebody is committing suicide in the world. It's the second most common cause of death in teenagers, which is a reflection of our parenthood skills, that our children are committing suicide.

As part of this, we launched something called-- AI called PIWI and this is an artificial intelligence machine that can detect whether you're feeling concerned about anything or you have depression or you might feel suicidal. And what did we find? People are more comfortable talking to a machine than to a person because they feel less-- they are willing to be vulnerable to a machine, they trust the machine more than to another human being. This is the state of affairs.

So what we did with PIWI, now she can detect suicide risk, refer you to a counselor. And we are creating our own cryptocurrency, a Love in Action token to pay for it, democratizing well-being to the world through no attention to special interest groups, democratizing financial well-being, physical well-being, emotional well-being, mental being, through a grassroots campaign globally. It's the only way. We can't trust special interest groups, particularly politicians. All happen to be gangsters.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Mm-hmm. It's interesting, too. And you mentioned your own kind of cryptocurrency and using--

DEEPAK CHOPRA: We are in the process of creating that, yes.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Yeah, in the process of creating that, and also using this AI technology. What kind of results are you starting to see, Deepak?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: We've already seen intervention in 500 attempted suicides. And that's a remarkable thing, beats any other kind of therapy. But of course, we want to work with therapists, counselors, and social workers and front line workers. And you know, there's lots of things are happening right now, which I think if we understand the convergence of information technologies, the new methods of transportation, creation of energy which is not dependent on fossil fuels, production of food through fermentation and stem cells.

We are seeing a new era of abundance, abundance for the world, if we just participate collaboratively. The future of emergence depends on maximum diversity, maximum diversity of people, shared vision, complementing each other's strengths, open systems, feedback, and transparency. If we do that we can create abundance for the world.

JULIA LA ROCHE: I really, I like what you're saying there. And if you wouldn't mind, I would like to just kind of do a follow up question and kind of double click on cryptocurrency because we are having a bigger conversation about money and you think about the evolution of money over the years. How do you-- what do you make of cryptocurrency kind of broadly as a theme?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: It's going to be part of our ecosystem, financial ecosystem. Is the only way you can localize success of businesses. So you think locally, you create wealth locally, you participate globally, but you're not bound to some special interest groups and your businesses will thrive locally if you create your own cryptocurrencies. This is part of Buddhist economics, it's existed for 2,500 years but now because we have AI and we have all these amazing technologies coming together as a convergence, this is the future is going to be localized abundance and affluence and global cooperation.

And abundance right now. We're looking at almost free energy in the future. We are looking at almost free transportation in the future. We're looking at elimination of fossil fuels. We're looking at food production, which is locally with food as software through technology.

JULIA LA ROCHE: So it's like a fascinating kind of picture of the future and what that could look like. You know, a lot of folks really admire the work you've done. You obviously have a lot of purpose and impact on people. And it would be I think, helpful to kind of go back several years and I did read that when you came to the US, you came with $20 in your pocket. And, Deepak, what was the unlock for you, where you were able to realize your purpose and kind of place?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Actually, I came with zero. I had to make a collect call to my hospital to pick me up from JFK. So I had zero and I worked hard. I started, trained in medicine, trained in endocrinology, internal medicine, mind-body medicine, and I just expressed my passion that's all.

And, you know, it was like somebody's singing in the bathroom, and people liked the song. And so they started buying my books. And I was lucky. What can I say? It wasn't planned. I was just doing my PhD, which I define as passion, hunger, and drive.

JULIA LA ROCHE: I love that-- passion, hunger, and drive.

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Passion especially.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Yeah, well before we wrap up, the crisis has certainly brought mental health to the forefront. And I know you've been doing a lot as it relates to mindfulness and meditation, including a series with Oprah. A lot of folks I talk to, whether it's Ray Dalio for example, they point to meditation as critical for their success. What is it about meditation and how it can help you in your life and kind of realize your potential and kind of find your success?

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Meditation helps you going beyond being a biological robot. Most people act like algorithms, there's no creativity, there's no insight, there's no inspiration, there's no higher vision, there's no purpose, there's no meaning. So meditation takes you beyond the alleys, the dark alleys of your conditioned mind to the source of the mind and unleashes creativity. That's what Ray Dalio and Paul Tudor Jones are good at. They're very smart business people, they're also professional mediators as you know.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Yes. Well I should also point out you have written your 91st book, Total Meditation and you're working on your 92nd book. So, Dr. Deepak Chopra, I thank you so much for your time. Thank you so much for joining us today.

DEEPAK CHOPRA: Thanks, Julia. The new book is called Abundance: The Hidden Path.

JULIA LA ROCHE: I can't wait to read it. I'm so excited. 2021 right?


JULIA LA ROCHE: Awesome. Thank you. Thank you again, Deepak.