The negative self-talk gremlin was in full voice before dawn. I got up because the animals needed out, and my first thought was “It’s 4:45 a.m., and I did not get enough sleep.” Feeling sorry for myself before 5 a.m. isn’t a sign of a full-energy day. I fed the beasts and let them out, and while I waited for them to come back in, I staggered to the computer. it was not quite 5 a.m. and after looking at my to-do list for today, I thought, “I don’t have enough time to get all this done today.”
And then I stopped. I had been up less than half an hour and I was already focusing on what wasn’t there, what I didn’t have, what wasn’t enough. The gremlin was in full voice, singing opera.
One of the emails on my laptop was a seminar on abundance. It promised increased money, respect, happiness, sexual pleasure and satisfaction in life. Not a lot was left out. They were targeting people like me, who wake up and are unhappy before they get dressed. And the word “abundance” seems like the answer to everything you lack.
“Abundance” has become a commodity–something we need to buy and own to make a good life. It’s dangled in front of us like a sale on shoes. Abundance is the new bag or car or something you are missing and you have to pay a speaker so you can get your abundance from someone else.
And although I am not the sharpest tool in the shed at that hour of the morning, I had two really sharp ideas.
First: No one can sell me abundance. I have to make my own abundance. All by my ownself, as my boy used to say when he was three.
Second: Abundance isn’t a fixed amount of money, or a set salary. It’s not measured in cups, pounds, or bushels. If you ask just about anyone what amount of money it would take to make them feel they have “abundance,” they will pick a number far above the amount they have. Because “having abundance” translates to “more than I have now,” or “I don’t have enough.” Abundance is now seen as lack. And that’s the gremlin’s territory.
I looked at my to-do list. “I have enough time to do what I need if I choose the most important things to do,” I said. Then I made a list of all the things I needed to do so it was clear. Next, I made a list of the three most important things to do. That was my new to-do-now list. Until they were complete, no other work would get done.
And about that lack of sleep? The beasts had come back in, I closed the door, re-set the alarm clock and got another hour of sleep. Still plenty of time to take the morning walk and then get down to work.
When we allow ourselves to classify abundance as what we lack, what we don’t have, what we are missing, we will never have it. We strive for what we don’t have, measure ourselves by what we lack. The gremlin owns us, we are miserable.
When we define abundance as what we already have, and thrive in that standard, then the world shifts. We don’t strive for what we can’t reach, we suddenly have the time we thought we didn’t. When I woke up again at 6:30 a.m., I felt better. I had enough time to achieve the high-priority items. I felt better, calmer, and grateful that I’d had another chance at abundance. Because this time I had it.
––Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who has enough and is enough. At least for this one day.