I’ve been beating my head on the wall I’ve made using the flood of abundance-mindset and positive-thinking books – past and present – that populate my shelves as well as articles and posts and audio tapes and video thingummies and podcasts that lurk in the spaces my computer can reach.
It all sounds so good. It’s all warm and fuzzy and smiley-face cool.
It’s also cotton-candy unsatisfactory. I’ve got a really bad sugar-high going and the crash is imminent, looming, and certain.
THERE IS PLENTY – INSIDE AND OUT
It’s a truth, you know. It really does feel better to understand that, for real, there is plenty for everybody and that we live in a spectacularly abundant natural world.
Understanding that there really is enough for you and yours is a marvelous thing to carry around with you in your head and in your heart.
As a wise old guy I knew once said, “You live most of your life inside your own head, so it makes sense to make sure it’s a good space.”
I’ve always liked that one. It’s been one of my guiding lights as I wander around in this old world.
No matter what’s going on outside, if my inside is together and is what Hawaiians call “pono” – righteous and balanced between myself and others – then I can keep on walking and keep on getting to where I want to go and I can walk lightly instead of stomping around like some cut-rate T. rex. (Dinosaurs are so yesterday, ya know.)
Building up our internal abundance, as Marianne Williamson points out in her book, EVERYDAY GRACE: Having Hope, Finding Forgiveness and Making Miracles, does, indeed, work to mitigate external lack and turn it around.
She says, “As long as we remain vigilant at building our internal abundance – an abundance of forgiveness, an abundance of service, an abundance of love – then external lack is bound to be temporary.” She’s right too.
Teacher, speaker, and author Charles Eisenstein has spent a lifetime looking at the Big Questions (Where do I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?) and fiercely focuses on themes like civilization as we know it, human consciousness, money, and cultural evolution.
His is one of the best explanations of the effects of so-called “scarcity thinking” I’ve ever come across.
In his book, THE MORE BEAUTIFUL WORLD OUR HEARTS KNOW IS POSSIBLE, he lays it out:
“From our immersion in scarcity arise the habits of scarcity. From the scarcity of time arises the habit of hurrying. From the scarcity of money comes the habit of greed. From the scarcity of attention comes the habit of showing off. From the scarcity of meaningful labor comes the habit of laziness. From the scarcity of unconditional acceptance comes the habit of manipulation.”
And that’s another truth.
ABUNDANCE IS NOT ALL THERE IS
The thing is, I do sort of agree with Richelle E. Goodrich, a poet and novelist who does epic young adult fantasy books and has published a couple of collections of musings about life as well.
In one of her books, SMILE ANYWAY, she says, “You can add up your blessings or add up your troubles. Either way you’ll find you have an abundance.”
The whole abundance thing can easily get to be…well…sort of dogmatic.
It’s easy to maintain the mindset when you’re surrounded by supportive group-think folks. It’s like being in the middle of a wonderful group hug. It feels really good.
But, the whole abundance movement thing can get hairy when you’re not surrounded by like-minded people and affirmations are a really crummy shield when there are guys gunning for you and acting out of their own sense of scarcity and not-enough.
There are predators in the world. There are manipulators. There are bad breaks and you can get blindsided by factors and conditions you haven’t noticed or considered. At any given time, there are resources that you want and need which are not available to you when you want or need them.
While it is a truth that you create your own world, it is also a truth that everybody else creates their own worlds as well…and together we make the world we all have to live in.
The one thing about being human is that nobody is the sole creator of this consensus world of ours nor are we the progenitors of Life-Its-Own-Self. Humbling, I know, but there it is.
Some parts of our consensus world are not so good. It’s a work in progress, after all, and the builders often disagree on what goes where and what happens next.
An old proverb (probably German) tells us, “God gives us everything we need, but he doesn’t throw it into the nest.”
That one’s been around a long time. Another truth. It’s all out there, but you have to notice it. Then you have to get up and go get it.
I find that I’m leery of the idea that I’m a magnet à la that Law-of-Attraction thing. I keep seeing images of stuff flying through the air and hitting me upside the head. Ouch!
MY OWN THOUGHTS
My own thought is that abundance-thinking is just a part of your Living Life toolbox.
What the abundance-thinking mindset helps with is figuring out a way to go for it which does not cause a lot of collateral damage that comes back to bite you or that haunts you until the end of your days.
This, I think, is a very good thing.
Maybe the positivity thing is like vitamins and minerals. You need a minimum daily dose of the things for your body’s optimal performance and you can take supplement pills to make sure you get them all, but you do have to stay aware that even stuff that’s good for you can kill you if you overdo it.
THE ANTIDOTE TO THE PARADOX
Perhaps the only antidote to this paradox is developing receptivity and looking at the appropriateness of any given action.
“Receptivity” is all about noticing. You see and accept what’s in front of you. “Appropriateness” is doing just enough to move something in a certain direction and nothing more.
It’s like an aikido of the mind. The whole point in aikido is to notice the direction your partner-in-play is making and to help them go in that direction (perhaps more definitely than they want) and, thus, to move them out of your own way.
Then you’re free to go do what you want to do.
ALWAYS MORE QUESTIONS
Here are some questions to consider before you go off loaded for bear or walk through an outlaw town as the guy or gal without a gun:
- Is the action you’re planning to take an appropriate response to whatever circumstance you are facing?
- Are you receptive to the world around you? Are there conditions or factors in a situation that could have an impact on what you are trying to do? What can you do about them?
- Are you noticing things that are wonky in another person’s walk? What can you do to mitigate the effects of that?
- Are you noticing things that you are doing that just don’t work? Can you do something different that might work better?
One of my favorite quotes is from poet Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
That last may be the biggest test to run on any action before you take it: How will it make other people feel? Are you good with that?
Here’s a poem:
I WILL KEEP WALKING
I guess it’s confusing for
Some people in my life.
They’re never quite sure
Whether I am a grizzly
Pretending to be a chipmunk
Or a chipmunk
Pretending I’m a bear.
I figure that’s cool.
I think that’s fair.
The ones who care about me
Apparently don’t mind:
That creature-feature’s just me,
And the ones who love me embrace it,
Knowing that just as they walk their way
I am walking mine.
I figure that’s great.
I think that’s fine.
The ones who have agendas
And shoulds and oughts and want
Their opinions to have dominion
Are likely to think twice
‘Bout coming at me sideways,
May think the cost of doing that
Might not be worth the price.
I figure that’s cool too.
I think that’s nice.
by Netta Kanoho
Header photo credit: “Making Cotton Candy” by Steven Depolo via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
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