Mental Assets and Liabilities

Throughout our lives we seek out various objects, people, and ideals. If we work hard enough we can usually get them too. But how often do we ask ourselves, “Is this worth it?" For example, you may spend your whole life working to own a restaurant. You want it with all of your heart and soul. When you finally get it, you may feel amazing, but what if you realize that it isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? You must determine if your “possession" is an asset or a liability.

In the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter, the “rich dad" shares some powerful advice. One of the pieces of wisdom that stuck with me was the difference between an asset and a liability. An asset is an “investment" you can make a return on, something that allows your money to work for you. A liability is an “investment" that requires you to pay a sum more than the original price once or multiple times which you will have a hard time getting a return on. The book talks about how a lot of people refer to a car or a house as an asset. By the book’s definitions, these both qualify as liabilities. Years of wear and tear will require constant bills related to repair and regular maintenance. Owning a company that turns a yearly profit would be a lot closer to the book definition of an asset.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad puts it quite simply. Collect assets and get rid of liabilities if you want to make more money. This message really spoke to me. It made me evaluate all the financial aspects of my life. I also yearned to create and seek out as many financial assets as possible. Then I had another thought, does this principle only apply to finances?

The life of the creative person is almost completely dependent on the state of his mind. If he or she is undergoing too many mental processes or enduring too much stress, it will be extremely difficult for him to create anything, let alone a masterpiece. What would happen if you sat down and evaluated your life for mental assets and liabilities?

I had lunch with a good friend today. He is the type of person that has the fortune of being gifted both creatively and analytically. He has the misfortune of owning a condo with an extremely unruly board of directors. My friend said that while several positive things have happened for him lately, the negativity of the condo situation has caused him a great deal of stress. He has made efforts to resolve the problems amicably with no success. Now, if he sold the condo, he would be ridding himself of a financial asset. He is in position to make a solid return in a couple of years, despite the current state of the market, but is it worth it?

My friend’s financial asset is a mental liability. Every time he walks into his condo he feels a great deal of stress at the possibility of running into the President of the Board or thoughts of what the President might say to current or future roommates. One potential path is months of legal action and thousands of dollars. Another is sucking up to the board and my friend feeling like a lapdog for the next few years. If you wanted to take the Rich Dad, Poor Dad approach applied to mental success, you could cut the liability by selling the condo.

Personally, I feel that one of my biggest reasons for being on this planet is to create. I also happen to be a bit loopy (as if you haven’t noticed :)), so I need to be in control of as many of my mental facilities as possible. If I were in my friend’s situation I would choose my mind over my money. I did it when I went into a pauper’s profession (acting/literature) over the lucrative scientific or legal fields that my friends all chose. Oh, and I’d do it again too :). I have found a great life being involved in the arts; they have been a forever replenishing mental asset for me.

It’s not always a question of money though: A complicated relationship, an endless but successful project, or a job causing more trouble than it’s worth. There are all sorts of aspects of your life that might be mental liabilities. You can ask yourself a few questions to test them out.

1. Am I putting a lot of mental energy into this?
2. Am I receiving any positive mental energy back in return?
3. Is the amount of positive mental energy I get back greater than or equal to the amount that I’ve been putting in?

If you can answer yes to the third question, you are dealing with a mental asset. If not, you should use the answers to the first two questions to determine if this mental liability should be a part of your life.

If you are giving up your mental capacity for another facet of your life, you should come to terms with it. You should acknowledge that it’s a liability even if you have no plans of removing it. Starting a family or falling in love can be a mental liability that is totally worth it, even if it saps your creativity for a little while. Dealing with a difficult situation may yield a reward in the end and only you can determine its importance for you. You must know, however, that this is a choice that you’re making. You decide upon your mental assets and liabilities. Do not blame other people and do not make excuses.

Your life is your choice. If you choose to create, feel free to come on back and I’ll help you along the way. Happy choosing! 

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Written by Bryan Cohen

Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.
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