What are your views on abundance, scarcity or sufficiency in relation to your life? Have you considered how these viewpoints influence you and is one more dominant? I invite you to read this book excerpt from 'The Soul of Money' titled 'Sufficiency is not abundance' by Lynne Twist (who does fundraising for social causes). Does it trigger some insights, thinking or reactivity in you? I suggest you read and reflect on it before you continue reading further, so the rest of my blog makes more sense to you.
I was particularly touched by this line in the excerpt: "We can move our money, or the money we are entrusted with, toward that which will serve us all from a sense of our own wholeness rather than a desperate longing to be complete".
We used the book excerpt listed above to reflect and discuss at an Awakin circle in London; it sparked a lot of insights as we had some good reflection and discussion time to delve deeper into the topic. It was useful to hear the perspectives of others on a similar journey with abundance/scarcity thinking.
Personally, I am okay with the word 'abundance'; it has empowering connotations for me. I also connect to the context of sufficiency in the excerpt. When we see nature, we see natural abundance (seeds, fruit, a tree grows without hoarding excess water). Then, compare that to humans, how we over-produce and consume way beyond what we need and the scarcity thinking is obvious. Learning that 'fast fashion' (cheap, throwaway clothes) is the second most polluting industry in the world now was quite a shock to me; an example of how we have lost touch with sufficiency.
In the dictionary, abundance is defined as 'affluence' or 'wealth'; also, as 'an extremely plentiful or over sufficient quantity or supply'. But this is not the definition that really resonates for me.
Abundance from the NVC perspective
The NVC (nonviolent communication) viewpoint of abundance is very inspiring and liberating. I heard NVC trainer Francois Beausoleil (in his audio course with Jeff Brown on "Integrating NVC and Abundance Consciousness" state that "abundance is having the experience or carrying in a somehow integrated, consistent way the awareness of having access to power. Power here is the ability to mobilise resources to meet needs. Being in a state of abundance, the way we see it, might not change the conditions of our life but will have a profound affect on how we interact with the world. We also see abundance as a viewpoint and you have a certain degree of choice in embodying this viewpoint; we also believe that embodying this viewpoint even without outer changes will considerably increase our sense of well-being as well as increasing chances of needs being met through our presence and actions in the world".
So, the NVC perspective is that if we meet someone who doesn’t want to help us meet our needs, then we use our 'power' to find other creative ways to meet them, remembering there are many ways and other humans (7.4 billion including myself) on the planet to ask. In this abundance movement, we concentrate on meeting our needs, and we don’t get stuck on particular strategies. If one person doesn’t have the time to talk to us when we long for support, we can find another. If we want more autonomy at work, we can find a way to ask for it.
I also know when scarcity (the feeling or belief of not having enough) thoughts consume my thinking, I feel stressed. In the grips of 'not enough' thinking, I am more likely to worry and be irritable or feel fearful. When in scarcity, I notice too that my mind is occupied with thoughts of the past or the future. My thinking has the flavour of something like 'this SHOULD be' different. Notice the next time you feel stressed, what the nature of your thoughts are and this may give you insights into your own feelings/themes of scarcity.
"Scarcity steals mental capacity wherever it occurs—from the hungry, to the lonely, to the time-strapped, to the poor. Poor financial decisions may in fact be the products of a pervasive feeling of scarcity. Scarcity thinking creates mindsets that rarely consider long-term best interests", state Mullainathan and Shafir , authors of the book 'Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much'.
On a collective level, we also hoard and don't share resources easily or haven't designed systems to do this very easily in our world - this creates an artificial sense of scarcity in the world -although we have an abundance of food, medicine and yet there is still a lot of inequality in the world.
Tips for nourishing abundance:
In the book, 'A Course in Miracles', there is a great reminder that to give is to receive. Generosity gets us viewing the world with a different lens, makes us feel more alive and connected with others. Do you remember moments after you have been generous, sometimes spontaneously generous... that rush of energy you received instantly. Even if it was something seemingly insignificant as giving up your seat in a bus...that feeling when giving joyfully is just the most wonderful reward.
A client recently told me about this site called Kiva that helps to connect people who need loans with those who can lend. He also encourages his family to spend their Christmas budgets on goodgifts, a refreshing alternative to conventional unwanted presents. I am also inspired when I hear of friends who encourage 'pay it forward' birthdays for their children, encouraging their children to think about and nominate a charity to foster this spirit of generosity, a key component in abundance.
Recently, I heard an inspiring story about a mother who invited 25 guests for her daughter's birthday party, encouraged 'blessings bag's' for the homeless (containing socks, basic toiletries,etc) and what was touching was how she described her daughter was as excited about opening these presents as she was her own.
2. Choose the abundance lens
Abundance to me really isn't just about money, it is about the flow of natural giving and receiving which humans beings naturally enjoy tapping into. We enjoy contributing to each other's lives. Therefore, abundance isn't to do with having cars or houses or a big cash pot or ownership of many possessions. It isn't to do with the external but the internal - it is abiding in this sense of enoughness, knowing we have the power to mobilise resources to meet our needs.
When you choose this viewpoint, it may make you feel safe, like you are being taken care of, like you know what you need to do to make your life wonderful, like you have the power to find the solutions you want.
3. Keep a daily gratitude journal:
Oprah Winfrey does it and actually kept a gratitude journal for a whole decade. Marshall Rosenberg, creator of NVC, had a gratitude practice and called it "Giraffe" fuel. A gratitude journal is a straightforward practice where you write 3 or 5 things that you are grateful for - it could be daily or less frequent, depends on you. It is important to really feel your way through the practise, to savour, to celebrate and enjoy what you noticed - if you do it as a mundane, mechanical diary entry, it probably won't have the effect you want of nourishing abundance.
There is real science to back up why gratitude works. Here is a video you may enjoy on the power of gratitude by Robert Emmons, a scientific expert on gratitude.
We are learning so much about the brain's neuro-plasticity. By constantly focusing on what you are grateful for, you are training your brain to look for things you appreciate and get fuelled by this with hopefully amazing results!
I have a long way to go with my own journey of abundance; I am excited to keep sharing with you as I learn. Please leave me a comment or drop me a line if this blog touched you in any way, I would love to connect with you too.