In these uncertain times everyone wants a safe place to invest their time and energy—and money if they have any. Ideally an investment is not only safe, but grows in value, as when you invest in your own education or in a growing company. Still, we want safety first, because these days we have that lurking fear of a global economic meltdown or even some end-of-civilization-as-we-know-it scenario. People say gold is the best thing for those situations. But is it? I always imagine that the first time I go out and try to buy something with gold, someone's going to follow me home and rob me. So do I invest in gold and a gun? Not me.
Here is the first of my three foolproof investments for any future scenario: Depth Psychology. "Soul work." Learning from your dreams. Knowing your complexes and your shadow. Wisdom is a resource that no one can take from you and it only appreciates.
Your dreams will tell you the "rest of the story," information you need for making the best life decisions. Knowing about your complexes keeps you from doing really dumb things and alienating people. Consider your undervalued self as an example of a complex. If you get caught up in this one you will underestimate your worth, fail to try things that in fact you could do well, and fail to make friends with the people you would most like to know because you think they don't want to know you. If you know your shadow, you will build real character, real integrity, because you will know about the evil you are capable of doing. What could be of more value than being able to go to sleep at night knowing you are living a life with as much integrity as possible.
Economic meltdown? End of the world? You will speak and behave in ways that draw others to you. They will want to support you because they experience you as a valuable person to have around.
Second investment: Meditation. Any spiritual belief or practice will be useful in bad times. Prayer, contemplation, yoga, good works—all excellent, but you want to get your nervous system used to going to its most settled state by going there daily and gradually changing how your whole brain operates. Meditation methods differ so do your homework. I prefer Transcendental Meditation. It gives immediate experiences of the deepest possible state, and when you look into the theory behind it, it makes sense. You invest a little money to learn, but you never have to pay again or donate to receive whatever help you may need with it for the rest of your life. Twenty minutes twice a day is a significant investment in time, but if you are doing it right you will look forward to doing it. It's pure rest. Great for your health. It clears your mind, making you more efficient. Best of all, the effects accumulate, especially after a few retreats to get the ball rolling. Yes, Virginia, there really are higher states of consciousness (yup, enlightenment). In more down-to-earth terms, I have been meditating for 40 years. I've grown older, but I have also noticed large gains in what some people would call youthfulness: Greater energy, productivity, and just plain bliss. Everyone who has stuck with it reports the same benefits.
Economic meltdown? End of the world? No one can steal my nervous system, and even if it takes a hit from stress, I will handle it with more equanimity than those who have not invested this way.
Third investment: Love. Your close relationships. These require the greatest investment of time, energy, skill and focused attention. There can be suffering along the way and loss at the end. So you need more than one close other in your life. But what a payoff, every day, in every way. Loneliness will kill you, slowly but surely. End of the world? Would you rather face it alone or with someone you love? Some people who jumped from the inferno of the World Trade Center on 9/11 did it holding hands. Imagine: Holding hands or not holding hands. Funny, but it makes a gigantic difference, doesn't it?