In #9 of “15 Powerful Things Happy People Do Differently” we come to the thorny issue I’ve been trying to date to avoid not just on this list, but in my life.
What does “abundance” really mean?
This, I have discovered, is a very, VERY difficult question to answer. Or at least I find it very difficult. I want to be realistic – a concept which seems quite at odds with the concept of abundance. I also have to weigh considerations between different forms of abundance – such as financial wellbeing and free time to spend alone and with friends and family – which may seem to be or may actually be incompatible.
In the same way, concepts such as “lack” or “poverty” translate in the Western parts of the world at least as directly materialistic concepts – do I lack a new car? A regular paycheck? A bigger, fancier cage with more shreddable toys for my more than deserving pet bird?
Digging down deep beneath surface considerations that can be stacked, counted, and stashed, we get to the less tangible aspects of abundance, lack and poverty. Some, such as “an abundance of love,” I find frankly confusing.
Who can really have too much love in their life? Any amount would seem like an abundance – even an over-abundance when so many lonely people live amongst us today.
A poverty of love, on the other hand, may look quite different in one life versus another.
Extroverted personalities may define a poverty of love as any less number than 15 willing friends who are ready to go out at any given time. An introverted personality – such as myself, for instance – might count herself rich indeed at the presence of one or two “besties” with whom she can share and receive the deepest of confidences.
Luckily, our “15 Powerful Things” article cuts to the chase – is it all of the above, some of the above, none of the above? The author writes: “They [happy people] have an abundant mindset living a balanced life, achieving abundance in all areas of life.”
“An abundant mindset” suggests gratitude to me, for really I can’t find any other word that encapsulates a continual mental state of abundance. Feelings of jealousy or envy are also helpful here, believe it or not, because they show me where I am feeling a poverty or a lack in some area I consider to be important. I can’t remember which famous person said to pay attention to our jealousy because that is where we will find our path – it may have been the author of one of my favorite books, “Quiet,” Susan Cain.
Yes. I am almost certain it was her.
At any rate, what seems to work for me so far is to pay equal parts attention to where I am feeling grateful and where I am feeling envious. These twin markers – at useful extremes no less – are reliable guides in helping me to find my own unique experience of abundance in life.
Today’s Takeaway: Do you pay attention to “road markers” like gratitude and envy/jealousy? What do you learn from their presence about how close you are to meeting your personal goals for abundance in key areas of life?
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Last reviewed: 26 Jul 2012