Have you ever paused to consider how much abundance you have in your life? And if so, have you considered what that might lead to?
a · bun · dance
A very large quantity of something.
The timing for this post is apropos given that we’re in the middle of the 2020 holiday season. There is abundance everywhere, from gifts and gadgets to record breaking amounts of stress and anxiety.
However, this post was inspired a couple months ago by a new family member on my wife’s side. Our nephew married a wonderful gal originally from Venezuela. She shared some detail around the recent economic hardship that families in Venezuela face, including her own. The piece that stuck out to me was a monthly stipend (minimum wage) of roughly $2.
In other words, most families are currently living off $2 USD per month.
Please stop what you’re doing right now and absorb that.
Realize that the phone you’re reading this on would take roughly 500 months to save up for. You would likely be dead before getting your iPhone 12.
Sure, Venezuela’s situation is complicated… but it’s also real.
Those of us who live in 1st world countries live in abundance. Period. We have a lot of things, from both physical and mental context.
- We have apartments and houses with lots of un-used space.
- We have cars to help us go to places any time when we want.
- We have many different clothes to change our appearance each day.
- We have kitchens full of food to last us for weeks at a time.
- Our kids have tons of toys that sit around and entertain them all day long.
We have all these things…
- We have decisions to make about “what we should do with our days?”
- We have friends and family that offer and ask about “what’s new?”
- We have jobs that constantly require decision making and brain power.
- We have social relationships that create drama and emotional burden.
We have all these thoughts…
And so, we are constantly living in abundance. All. Day. Long.
The things and thoughts pile up, and instead of getting rid of them, we continue adding to the pile. We move some things around every now and then, but most of us don’t get rid of things. We just keep striving for abundance.
Let me give you some examples –
I have a nice house with plenty of space, but that bigger house with more space would be better.
I want that.
I have a good car that gets me around, but that newer car with the extra thing-a-ma-jigs would be better.
I want that.
I have so many clothes to choose from in my closet, but that pair of pants would really look good on me.
I want that.
The dinner we had last night was tasty and nutritious, but that new dish looks amazing.
I want that.
Do you see what’s happening here? When you start to live in abundance there is no end. It’s a game that keeps going because there will always be something else. Nobody can have everything in this world if they play this game.
Unless… they remove what they want. That’s the trap.
If you continue to WANT, you will stay in abundance and play this game forever. It will never be enough. You will always find something else to strive for or accumulate.
I’ve found myself falling into this trap a lot recently.
- I want the change of environment with a new home.
- I want the change of scenery with a new vacation.
- I want the change of diet with a new meal every night.
- Even at the intellectual level I want new information and knowledge.
I find myself never being content.
And in the process, I’m starting to question the WHY behind it. This leads to a deep cycle of introspection if you go far enough.
Let’s play this out for a minute…
Why do I want these things?
My current life is lacking something. The attainment of more things, both physically and mentally, will bring me [that] something I’m currently missing.
Got it. Next question.
What do I expect to feel when I get these things?
Happiness and fulfillment.
Great. Next question.
How will these new things make me a happier and more fulfilled person?
They will provide new ways to entertain myself, pleasure myself, and perhaps find personal growth.
Okay. Next question.
When will I realize true happiness and fulfillment?
I’m not sure… that’s why I want more things. Maybe I’ll know if and when something specific occurs?
So here we find ourselves in a state of wanting without any true end in sight. We want some thing today and we’ll find some new thing to want tomorrow. Each time we find something new the contentment is temporary until we want the next thing. As I said, this game never ends.
How did this happen?
Well, for starters we’ve cultivated this habit in 1st world countries. We live in societies that promote and encourage abundance. Look around you. There are advertisements everywhere. From the branded things you use every day to the annoying popups that get in your face on the internet. We are constantly trying to push “more” onto each other, and in return, we feel the need to constantly want more.
As a result, we’ve evolved into restless beings that experiences high amounts of stress and conflict. The perpetual need for more is slowly killing us. We have therapists to help us talk through our feelings. We have medication to help us calm our brains. We have credit cards so we can attain even more things we can’t currently afford!
We have a serious problem.
Going back to Venezuela, the majority of people in that country don’t have this problem. They live simple lives with basic essentials. Abundance comes in rare form for them, and is the exception instead of the standard. They don’t know what they don’t have because there is no abundance to influence the desire for more.
They are content.
You don’t have to be content though…
Now I know what most of you are thinking at this point, “Life is more beautiful with color.” Or stated otherwise, life is more interesting with variety and progression.
I cannot disagree with that. As someone who values continuous education and new experiences, I’m certainly guilty of living in abundance myself. I’m not at a phase of life where I’m ready to become content.
So instead, I think the healthy compromise is limiting abundance. Here’s what I mean by that.
Find balance in your needs vs desires.
Do you really need that new thing or experience? Or do you simply want it to feed the abundance trap? Sometimes we truly need things, but more often than not we’re giving in to desire.
Find ways to share or give instead of receiving all the time.
It’s easy to buy things for yourself and that keeps you in the trap. Focus on how your energy can be used for others. That will keep your mind off of wanting all the time, and you’ll likely experience greater fulfillment in serving others.
Find gratitude in what you already have.
This is the important one that keeps you out of the trap regularly. Do a quick audit of your belongings. Take note of how much you truly have and then remind yourself how little most of the world has. Your ability to cherish existing belongings will help you avoid constantly wanting more.
Less = More
The underlying theme is being happy with less, not more. While it’s easy to think that more things will equal more happiness and fulfillment, I’ve often experienced the opposite. A simple life with fewer things can be so rewarding.
What I’m describing here is the starting point for living a minimalist lifestyle. But that’s a post for another day! For now, I hope you see some value in limiting your abundance.
Ali is a father, husband and serial entrepreneur with a deep drive to create. He writes, records, codes and builds things to inspire the artist in all of us.