Do you live with a sense of abundance? Or are you more like me - living with fears of not having enough?
Recently, a friend mentioned how she used to keep all her favorite stationary items aside. She treasured them and never got around to using them. I did the same thing as a child. I loved my most beautiful stickers, notepads, and pencils, but I did not use them even though I would enjoy using them. Instead, I used the plain stationery. I safe kept them for so long that eventually, I have no use for them.
I find that my mind still operates in a similar way today. I live with a scarcity mindset and it impacts my ability to feel joyful. Money has taken the place of my favorite stationery. Small pings of discomfort arise when I am about to spend money. I'm afraid it will run out and I want to safe keep as much of it as possible. My scarcity mindset makes it difficult for me to give to myself as well as to others.
I don't want to wake up a few decades from now rich with money but poor in emotional and spiritual wealth.
I have always assumed my ability to feel abundant is dependent on how much money or resources I have. However, when I actually examine myself, I realize that my scarcity fears are not actually tied to how much I am making, spending, or how much I have in savings. Scarcity fears, like most other fears, are more irrational than practical. Scarcity mindset has become a habit, and I want to make living with abundance my choice.
My search for abundance led me to creating these charts below:
The insight from these graphs is the role generosity plays in feeling abundant. The key to feeling abundant has more to do with how generous I am than how much money I have or make. Similar to virtues like kindness and compassion, generosity is a virtue that can be cultivated.
This brought me to the question: How can I cultivate my generosity?
Scarcity can certainly be a barrier to giving. I can’t give what I don't have. I must take care of myself before I can provide for others. However, scarcity is not the main barrier to generosity. Buddha said, “It does not matter how much you give, what matters is your intention – your goodwill for others – when you give.” In other words, monetary wealth is not the impetus to giving; emotional or spiritual wealth is the actual fuel to giving.
So what inspires emotional wealth? In my opinion, gratitude is the starting recipe for generating emotional wealth. When we feel grateful for all that we have, we want to share our good fortune with others, which leads to acts of generosity. When we act generously, we feel abundant.
When I look at people who actively practice this mindset, such as those who open up their homes to couch surfers for free, they are people who are happy with less and hold little attachment to their possessions. They find true joy in a simple life, and in sharing what they are lucky enough to be given in life with others. They don’t hold on to their possessions or money as their property. They see the world as a small community where paying it forward and extending kindness is the natural way of being. The world is their family.
Money is a currency of love. It is my choice to choose to feel that there is never enough love, or to choose to feel grateful for the love that is in my life and share it with others. Money, like love, is something given and not to be hoarded. I know I have a long way to go in cultivating my gratitude. I can look to people like the hosts for couch surfers as my role models as I continue to practice acts of generosity.
On a related note on generosity, I’m inspired by this quote:
Give love to the ones who you think deserve it the least because they need it the most.
In the divisive American society today, where everyone seem to think they are a victim in one way or another, I often find myself resisting acts of aggression and exclusion regardless of ideology and sides.
Perhaps the solution is to create a world where everyone feels abundant. Everyone will feel abundant when each of us extend generosity towards those who we feel deserve it least. If all of us can focus on cultivating our own sense of gratitude, open our homes, hearts and minds like those who host couch surfers, the world will feel like a closer, friendlier, and a more loving place.