Monday, February 18, 2013

Abundance is a way of living

Abundance is so much more than material goods.  Abundance is a way of living.  It is feeling on the inside that today was worthwhile.  It is the happy feeling we experience being content with the richness of today’s experiences.

When you unwind at the end of the day and reflect on what you have accomplished, when you are satisfied that you met some of your goals for the day, then you retire with a feeling of abundance, "today was a good day".

On the other hand when your day was filled with disappointment, when things you did or said were met with disapproval, you finish the day with a feeling of regret or sadness.  A sense that today was not a good day.

Most of our lives we have both kinds of days and they are the ups and downs that create the tapestry of our memories.  Often we take the abundance of our lives for granted.  It is so familiar that we don’t take proper notice of the little things that fill us with joy.  Simple things like the contentment you feel after creating a great meal for a family event where everyone comes together to share the celebration.  Or the review at work that gives you positive feedback on your progress.  Or maybe you just completed that job or project and there is a feeling inside yourself, “I did it and it is good”.  These positive “report cards” of life fill our self-esteem bucket gradually one drop at a time.

On the other hand, negative or critical content knocks a hole into the bottom of the self-esteem bucket. When someone criticizes your efforts, they remove value from what you have accomplished.  For example if your dinner is greeted with critical or derogatory comments instead of compliments, or the boss tells you that your efforts were not up to their standard, or a neighbor comments that “they would have done it differently”.   On such days it is hard to feel valued and hence your life does not feel so abundant.

Life feels abundant as long as the positive days outweigh the negative.  Mostly we feel content with our lot in life. We do the things we need to do, in our jobs, in our homes, and for our family and friends and as well as for ourselves.  Each of the elements in our life fulfills certain needs that contribute to our sense of self-worth and wellbeing. We find balance and have a sense that “life is good”.

However, all it takes is one tragic or traumatizing event, one where everything you knew or believed to be true is violently torn from your life, for you to realize that your feelings of abundance are closely tied to your feelings of value and worth.  The vacuum this creates is almost overwhelming in its intensity.  Suddenly you are left to question your value as a person.  Are any of the functions of your life worthwhile? Survival requires that you fill the void with replacements.  We are creatures of purpose.  When our purpose is torn from us, doubt fills the empty space left behind.

To just exist is not enough.  We humans need more to function optimally. 

Having a goal and a purpose gives us a reason to get up in the morning and face the day with an optimistic outlook.  Working on, and occasionally achieving some of those goals, fills our life with abundance.

Purpose gives us a personal sense of intrinsic value.  A feeling that “what I do matters, what I accomplish has value”. Without purpose we lose sight of our value.  Without value we lose confidence. And without confidence, even getting up in the morning becomes a painful blur of “why bother”.

For a large part of our adult life that sense of value is tied up in what we do for others.  How we perform at school or work, as parents, what we do to raise our families, and in the community how we contribute to our neighbourhood or our social structure.

However, what happens when those stabilizing influences in our lives are shaken up?  Job loss or family disintegration or changes in our role in society all of these affect us on a much deeper level that at first seems apparent.

When a lot of our notions of self are tied up with what we accomplish that has value for others, then to lose that means an abrupt end to a sense of self-value as well. To be without self-worth is to feel lost; adrift in a sea of questions and doubts.  Who am I?  What is my purpose beyond my value to others?  How do I go on?  Where do I want to go? Who do I want to become? How will I get there?  What steps do I need to take to begin this journey? When do I begin?

Whatever the life changing event (retirement, grown children moving away, illness etc), the only road to recovery is to embark upon this challenging journey of self-discovery, redefining what brings you value in your own estimation.  Do something.  Learn new skills, take on new projects, and make new discoveries about yourself.  It is essential to make changes in your life to bring about changes in the sense of abundance that you feel.  It could be as simple as finding something you love to do, like a new hobby or craft or skill to learn.  The goal is to find something that gives you a new purpose and a new direction in your life.  Something that makes you wake up in the morning saying “I am glad to have another day to enjoy my passion”. 

However hard the journey may be, you deserve the end result, a renewed sense of self-worth, the feeling that you as a person have value beyond what you do for others.  And most importantly, beyond the value that others see in you.  It is important to find this feeling that today is abundant.  Abundant with joys and pleasures and good things.

Abundance is a way of living that fills your spirit with contentment and appreciation.

"Doing what you love is the cornerstone of
having abundance in your life."

   © photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello

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