In America, it seems we are drowning in abundance. While the “American Dream” invites us to consume and enjoy an abundance of cars, purses, golf clubs and shoes- there is only temporary joy found in owning these items. Many of us are beginning to question what we had previously accepted as abundance and asking ourselves: “How much is enough?” and “What is true abundance?”
I’ve come to believe abundance is not a surplus of ‘things’; rather, it is having a clear understanding of what I need in order to be truly happy. When I know what I truly need, I can then stop wanting more of everything else. And knowing what I need isn’t just about “having” and “doing” – it’s also about “giving” and “being”.
Abundance comes as we learn to give of ourselves with one another; as we learn to honor and share what we already possess; and as we learn to work in partnership and in community. I believe abundance is a daily commitment to making choices that will benefit not only the quality of my life but the life of others as well. I now think in terms other than giving and receiving; instead, I see that giving is receiving.
Living in a state of abundance means that we have come to value others more highly than our own desires for consumption, creating space in our lives to be at peace with what we have in order to give more fully. On a larger scale, abundance is a natural result of communities filled with individuals living with and in support of those around them…people coming together for the sake of each other. Imagine the result on a global level – where poverty, hunger and lack of water take millions of lives.
So what does Abundance “look like”? In a community sense, Abundance looks like taking the time to meet your neighbors, to know the people who own and work in the corner stores, to smile and say hello when you pass someone out for a walk. It looks like making two loaves of zucchini bread and taking one next door. It looks like taking a casserole or a bouquet of flowers to someone when you know they are going through hard times. It looks like holding someone’s hand as they cry, even if you don’t know them all that well- because you, too, know what it’s like to feel sorrow. It looks like watching out for everyone’s kids and stopping to pet everyone’s dogs. On a personal level, Abundance looks like being present and open and giving from the heart.
Living in true Abundance asks us to take the risk of opening ourselves to another person. What if we get rejected? What if we feel hurt? But take a moment and ask yourself: what if I feel connected? What if I experience joy? What if, by taking the time to be genuine and engaged and fully present the next time I’m in conversation, I find myself open to the most amazing sense of abundance?
If Abundance is about giving rather than having, where do we go from here? First we shift our perspective and inquire within our own lives: how can I give and what can I do? As Mother Teresa said: “We can do no great things, only small things with great love.” The most abundant people I know are committed to a strong sense of purpose. Having a purpose helps us to feel good about ourselves. It connects us to something bigger than “ourselves”, helps us to recognize what is truly valuable, inspires us, opens us up and makes us want to give and serve in a way that truly blesses us and blesses others.
As the poet Rumi said: “Let yourself be silently drawn to what you really love.” Try this: ask yourself: “What do I love?” This will help to clarify what energizes you, what touches your heart and what inspires you. As you answer the call to do what you love, you will naturally feel more alive and more deeply engaged with your life. You will also experience a greater sense of direction, meaning and fulfillment.
From guerrilla gardening to inviting a neighbor over for a cup of coffee, sharing who we are and what we care about, choosing to no longer remain closed and possession-oriented, is what brings joy and deep meaning. By being more of who we are and opening our lives and our resources to others, we manifest more of what we truly dream for in life. It is in these moments, when we give generously from our hearts, that we truly experience abundance.