07/21/2010 05:21 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

5 Keys to a 'New' Abundance for Lean Times

Many thanks to readers and those who left comments on last week's article, "Are You Playing The Scarcity Game?"

Blue Ruffian's response was typical of several readers:

How do you implement an anti scarcity campaign when it seems all around is just that. I personally am seeing a reduction in my work and in my work day, I see so much increased poverty, lack of funds/person power, and people falling through the cracks. In the past months, I find myself going numb though my anxiety level is pushed as I feel that there really isn't enough for all people that I see (professionally and personally). I would so appreciate any insight you may have ...

What a perfect question to launch into exploring a conversation about this question: what does it mean to be abundant when so much of the world is suffering from not enough? Is it even possible?

How can one be abundant if they've lost their job and have no money? How can anyone feel abundant when we're awash in media messages 24/7 reminding us to be very afraid, the sky is falling?

I consider this to be a topic of critical importance for our time, as where each of us individually and collectively comes down on this subject will determine how we're going to experience this period of human history and our own individual story within it.

So first, what do we mean by the term, "abundance?" The dictionary defines it as:

  1. An extremely plentiful or over sufficient quantity or supply:
  2. Over flowing fullness

The image of abundance that comes to mind is a cornucopia, a "horn of plenty," overflowing with the harvest. Consider the invitation being extended through this image: "The bounty is plentiful, there is enough for all." Let that message sink in for a moment. There is plenty.

Consider where, in your life, you have the experience of plenty. Can you easily come up with something or is it difficult? Is your day-to-day consciousness focused on what you have or on what you don't have? Just notice.

Let's use time as an example. Often people feel like there's never enough time to meet the demands of their life. Do you have enough time? If not, how come?

Every day, you have the same amount of time available to use as you choose. I know, you're going to say "But I don't have much choice about how I use my time. I have to work eight or more hours a day and that only leaves me 16 left. And I have to sleep eight hours a night, so that only leaves me eight hours left to get everything else done. And I spend an hour commuting to and from work and two hours shopping for food and preparing it, and then there's helping the kids with their homework, doing laundry, etc. So when it gets right down to it, I only have one hour/day maximum to catch my breath before doing it all over again the next day. It's never feels like enough! "

And the feeling of "there's never enough" has the body in constant "fight or flight" mode, resulting in elevated cortisol levels and blood pressure, increased heart rate, insomnia, weight gain and the whole package that spells s-t-r-e-s-s. Inside the "not enough" consciousness, you are not having a good time. Neither is your body, mind or spirit.

But what if exactly what you have is enough? What if you could change your mind and choose to regard your current life circumstances as enough? If you don't have a job and you're living in fear, could you change your mind on the very next breath and bring kindness, love and compassion to yourself in the midst of your fear? Do you have enough kindness and love to nurture yourself just on this one breath? If not, what would it take for you to open yourself enough to receive your own loving kindness?

I admit, it's challenging these days to find our inner abundant resources, much less draw from them when the external world is awash in scarcity. But maybe that's the point. Maybe these times are the way they are exactly so we'll ultimately discover, there is nowhere else to turn but within to find what really matters, and in so doing, discover that you already are and already have enough. Or as Lynne Twist, founder of the Hunger Project, global activist, and author of the best selling book, The Soul of Money, calls it, "sufficiency".

When the external resources have disappeared, can you count on you to be there for you or do you abandon yourself and give your power away to fear? Do you have sufficient courage to face difficulties when they arise or are you lacking faith in yourself?

In the end, it's not about how many "toys" we have when we die or how many vacations we take, or how many pairs of shoes we have in our closet. It's not about the "things" we amass, even though there are those whose entire lives are devoted to accumulating more "things."

But you and I know that the thrill of having more "things" is short-lived. There will never be enough "stuff" to fill the hole of lack when we think that something outside of ourselves is the source of what we're ultimately seeking.

These times call for a new conversation about what it means to be abundant. We are living in the aftermath of our collective binge on excess. We see where that road has led. We can no longer pretend we don't know that this way of life is not sustainable. It's irresponsible to think only of ourselves and pay no mind to the impact of our choices on future generations.

The day of reckoning is already at hand. Look no further than right here, right now for the invitation to shift your way of thinking. Lynne Twist, on the times in which we live:

It's a difficult time. I don't deny that.

But it can also be a beautiful time. Because we can move towards thrift rather than accumulation; we can move toward appreciating what we love rather than being afraid of what we've lost. We can focus our attention and intention not on what we're losing, but on what we already have that's so valuable and nourishing to us. And we can stop clamoring for more of what we don't really need and take care of what we have.

This is a time that I think history will look back on and say,

"These are the people, this is the generation of humankind, that made the changes that went through a transformation that made the future of life possible. These are the people who had the courage to make profound changes in the way they were thinking -- as well as in the way that they were behaving -- that gave the future to life itself."

So, I'm privileged to be living at this time. I'm excited about being the generation that goes through this courageous period.

It's a gift, it's a blessing; a tough one, but something that will create the profound transformational change that's absolutely necessary and required for us to have a future on this planet.

So in answer to Blue Ruffian's opening question: This is not an "anti-scarcity campaign." If our focus is on combating scarcity, we'll just produce more of it, since the Law of Increase brings us more of what we focus on. This is about re-defining what it means to be abundant in the 21st century. It's not about lack and limitation, nor is it about greed and excess. It's about each person taking responsibility to define what is sufficient for their needs, being conscious of the needs of all, including future generations.

Gary Hart's article, "When Do I Prosper?" reminds us of a time in our country's history when people lived within their means, didn't go into debt, didn't buy things they didn't need and couldn't afford. We hadn't yet become the consumer-driven society with the insatiable demands that we have today.

Few of us are immune to the indictment of living beyond our means in some form or fashion. If you count yourself among the ones who thought the party of excess would go on forever and there would always be "more" where that came from, take a look in the mirror and be willing to redefine what "enough" is today.

Perhaps your standard of living has been drastically altered by the current economic conditions. Maybe you're unemployed, or your hours have been cut back and you're having to "make do" with less. How can you organize your thinking and thus your life, so that what you have is "enough"?

Five Keys To A "New" Abundance For Lean Times

  1. Count your blessings

    It all begins with gratitude for what you have. Meister Eckhart said, "If the only prayer you said in your whole life was "thank you", that would be enough." Gratitude expands your experience of that which you're grateful for, so count your blessings every day. It's impossible to be fearful or depressed while contemplating what you are grateful for.

    Read Anne Naylor's post on "Learning To Treasure Yourself" and be sure to include yourself in your gratitude list.

  2. Live Within Your Means

    This might be easier said than done, but begin. Start by cutting up your credit cards and vow to pay off all credit card debt. It's too easy to buy things you can't afford and don't need by putting it on the card. Remove the temptation completely. Be creative. Choose to use this time as an opportunity to return to or begin a simpler lifestyle. Re-evaluate what truly matters and design your life accordingly. Do you really need all those premium cable channels? Trim the fat and then trim some more. And then ...

  3. Choose what you have

    No matter what it is, you might as well choose it because you already have it. Lost your job? Choose it. Don't have any money? Choose it. I know, it sounds completely counter-intuitive, but there's an important lesson to be learned within this key. Choosing what you have breaks the hold of your resistance and allows you to move out of paralysis and fear and into creative action. And then, declare yourself enough. Declare your life enough. Declare yourself as creative, resourceful and courageous enough to come through these times with flying colors, not in spite of your circumstances, but because of them.

  4. Fill Your Own Cup

    No one or thing outside you can fill your cup, so fill it yourself. Declare yourself abundant. You are because you say so. In truth, abundance is who you are. Claim it. You are an infinite possibility unfolding every moment and there is always enough of what you need on every breath. On this breath; know that nothing is missing. On the next breath; know that all is well. On the next breath, know that you are loved. On the next breath, know; and know that you know, that you are enough. Know that the source of your supply is infinite and that you always have access to it. Know there is nothing to fear.

  5. Be A Blessing

    Who would you be in the world if you knew you were a blessing to everyone and everything you encountered? Would you hide and hoard your gifts or would you naturally want to share them? What we share multiplies in the giving, what we hoard shrivels and dies. What would the world be like if we were less about getting and more about giving? Seriously, if we were all breathing in love instead of fear, no matter what the world says, we'd have this thing licked. Those who are afraid are simply reflecting your own fear. Bless them and in so doing, you'll be blessing yourself.

    Know that, as Lynne Twist brilliantly reminds us; today, right where you are, you can be part of a critical mass of human beings, transforming the collective consciousness from fear and limitation, to being abundant; living in the flow of enough.

    Know that your time here is short, so make the most of it. Know that you matter. Know that what you think matters and the actions you take matter. Live from this knowing and you'll be living in abundance, no matter what the world may say.

    Be the beginning of your own Abundance Revolution, starting now, right where you are. Can your one person's actions matter? Are you enough to inspire someone else to declare a moratorium on their scarcity-based thinking? You are if you say so. So let's get busy!

How does this resonate with you? I'm listening. Please drop by the comment section and share your thoughts and/or visit my personal blog and website: Rx For The Soul . I love hearing from you and endeavor to reply to your comments.

Stay tuned for information about my new upcoming tele-seminar, Camp Abundance, coming this fall. Join me in a journey of deepening this awareness of how to live in abundance in times of scarcity. I'm still working out the details, but you'll be the first to know when we're ready to launch. For personal contact, I can be reached at judith@judithrich(dot)com.

Abundant blessings!