Maria Nemeth says our brains are wired to look for what
I’ve never forgotten Maria Nemeth.
can go wrong—so feeling good about our finances means
focusing on what’s going right.
In fall 2002, I joined dozens of people from around
the country in attending Nemeth’s “Energy of Money”
workshop in Sacramento, California. For four and a half
days, we sat in a giant circle while Nemeth moved from the
center to the perimeter, stopping at one point or another to
talk to, laugh with, or challenge each of us. I was equal parts
mesmerized, entertained, and terrified.
At the time I was walking out of my first marriage with
some $14,000 in credit card debt and wanted to get to
the heart of my issues with money. I had read Nemeth’s
The Energy of Money: A Spiritual Guide to Financial
and Personal Fulfillment (Ballantine, 1997). I loved her
philosophy—that how we do money is how we do life—
and I loved her hallmark question: “Would it be all right
with you if your life got easier?”
From Nemeth, I learned that true financial success
wasn’t just about having a pile of money in the bank. It was
about consistently doing what I said I was going to do with
money—with clarity, focus, ease, and grace. I learned about
the importance of intention and the importance of gratitude
in my financial life as well as my life in general.
Nearly every day during the past 15 years, I have “set the
arena,” as Nemeth calls it—setting my intention, expressing
my willingness to be coached, and sharing what I’m grateful
for. I do that over the phone with my friend Nina, in person
with my partner Michelle, or even with my dogs on our
On a dry-erase board, mounted where I can see it from
my desk, I write what I have spoken aloud. “I am willing to
be …” followed by words such as focused, creative, successful,
centered, and happy. I write my intention for the day, and I
write what I’m grateful for. If I’m struggling at some point,
it helps me to look up and remind myself who I said I was
going to be that day.
What also stayed with me was that my life really could get
easier if and when I was willing to allow it.
When I recently talked again with Nemeth, who at
73 continues to teach all over the world, she was at her
Academy for Coaching Excellence in Sacramento and
had just returned from Stockholm. In addition to being
a financial empowerment expert, Nemeth is an authority
on leadership excellence and personal and professional
development. A former clinical psychologist, Nemeth has
been in the helping profession for 50 years.