Less Abundance is Enough

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.”

Agave blossoms on a stem . . .

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.

. . . can be too abundant, too much of a good thing.

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.

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18 thoughts on “Less Abundance is Enough

  1. This echoes something I read the day before yesterday which struck me. It’s not a new thought but it struck me nonetheless, and here it is: people are not selling their products, they are selling fear. Fear of the lack they will feel if they don’t have this… or that.

    • There are few new thoughts, insight comes when you information you take in matches up with something you already know or are aware of. And you are right. We sell through fear. You lack X, Y will keep you safe, make you thin, some other need. That’s fact, I worked as a copywriter for many years, and the line was always “what is their pain point?”

  2. I lived and working in Thailand for a number of years, I travelled extensively around South East Asia and up through China, Tibet, Nepal and India and I know for certain that I have enough – and simply having enough is abundance. My daughter-in-law is fond if saying that she aims to live simply so others may simply live – I applaud her efforts. When did so many people get conned into thinking that a surfeit is abundance?

  3. In addition to my daily “I am enough” statements, I added “I have enough. I have all that I need.” Then I decided that wasn’t exactly right, I have way more than I need, and that has led me to a de-cluttering and then down-sizing plan. I found in the past year I am actually much happier with much less than with too much, and I now have an action plan to even things out.

  4. Made me smile reading Pete’s comment. I love “The Jerk”!

    This post is interesting as I have been waking up lately and feeling this overwhelming sense of too much to do and not enough time and not enough energy. And just the thinking about it seems to drain me. I reach a point sometimes where I have so much to do that I just don’t do anything. I go take a nap instead. But I was working in my Morning Pages today and I specifically wrote down that I did have enough time to get done what I needed to do and that I could find ways to delegate some things to others. That I was not going to be overwhelmed by it all. I’ll see how it goes.

  5. I’ve never seen abundance as a material thing at all. To me it has to do with a wealth of the mind and soul. Openmindedness helps. I mean that there is plenty of abundance as long as you are fascinated by things, develop ideas, and never loose your sense of wonder. With that kind of abundance you are never bored and can always delve into new things. I’m quite sure you have that sort of abundance yourself! Those things you carry around with you, no matter what you own.
    That being said: as a non morning person I am of the strong conviction that at 4:30 am there is no abundance to be had outside of that which I find fast asleep in my bed. 😉

    • The definition of abundance must also include curiosity about the world. And you are right, I have a bunch of that. I’m not a morning person, either. But I am a cat owner, and they love those hours right around dawn. And because it is summer, it’s my only chance at taking a walk. And I have come to appreciate the relative coolness of early morning. But I’m still not a morning person.

  6. I really appreciate this post. By the way, I woke up at 4:30 am PST, it is now 5am and I have had similar thoughts to yours. Anyway, I have been thinking this past couple of days about gratitude which is another buzz word these days and similar in some ways to abundance. I think that we are led down these paths of always looking for the positive and ignoring the negative and so we never get to the core of things. I had an interesting conversation with a woman yesterday, someone I have connected with in my search for connection – specifically to myself – and was so pleased that she actually ‘got’ what I was talking about and didn’t try to put a positive spin on what it is like to be retired. She didn’t tell me to be ‘grateful’ for all my spare time or look at the ‘abundance’ in my life she actually understood that when we retire our lives change. Often everything that has given our lives meaning and structure are no longer there and we are left with the question ‘now what’? Yes, I feel gratitude for what I do have and I have what I believe to be abundance in my simple life but I also have the core problem of not being ‘connected to myself’ and want to explore this not be jollied out of it and be made to feel ashamed for what I do feel. I believe that when we are connected to ourselves we will feel that we are enough and have enough. I hope I will find out if this is true.
    Thank you for your interesting, informative blog it is the first one I read every morning.

    • You have a big pile of important work in front of you. And (in my opinion, of course), you have put your finger on a stack of key thoughts. Gratitude and joy are completely different. Abundance is not something you can purchase. Change is unsettling. We cannot understand gratitude unless we also understand it’s opposite, fear. And yes, when we have identified with work for years, it is hard to grasp that we are not our work. This is hard work, but it is the best work of all–knowing who we are in any circumstance.

  7. “The only thing I need is this ashtray. And this paddle game. The ashtray and the paddle game and that’s all I need. And this remote control. And this remote control. And this lamp, and that’s all I need. And these matches. The ashtray, the paddle game, the remote control, the lamp, the matches, and that’s all I need. And this magazine. And the chair…”
    -Navin R. Johnson (Steve Martin)

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