The Law of Abundance has never really sat well with me.
There are people who invite abundant joy, creativity and love into their lives, which is beautiful and noble. But on any given day painful things happen which can set us up for failure if we’re so focused on feeling joy that we can’t handle the crappy stuff.
Plus, new research is bringing to light evidence that the endless pursuit of happiness is actually counterproductive. And that rather than pursuing abundant happiness, we would be better served in increasing emotional resilience.
That is to say, being able to feel both positive AND negative emotions; being flexible in tough situations and bouncing back quickly after a set back; and recognising when strong emotions are being triggered and moving through them in a healthy way.
But where I see The Law of Abundance most used is in wealth creation.
“Rich! Rich beyond your wildest dreams! You can have it all with this simple change in outlook!” they cry.
I’ve even heard of someone who teaches this, in reply to a question about people living in third world poverty, as “Well, that’s their story”.
No. It’s not “their story”. Poverty is an outcome from a construct of free trade and greed, and releasing people from their middle class guilt with that kind of description is freakin’ irresponsible.
Now, conversely, I don’t want to live or have others live in a scarcity mindset. That’s scary and awful.
People suffer without enough food, shelter, safety or money. People suffer when they don’t think they have a right to their needs, desires and dreams. People suffer when they believe they aren’t worthy.
But I don’t think an Abundance mindset really helps to shift that. In fact, I think the Abundance mindset and the Scarcity mindset are two extremes of the same coin.
- We live in a society that is DRIVEN by wanting more. But the way we currently use resources means that a lot of people still miss out. How can you have abundance in a planet of finite resources? Finite water, finite fossil fuels, finite time, finite arable land…
If you take those things abundantly for yourself, those resources become scarce for someone else. At its extreme, abundance becomes greed which leads to scarcity and abject poverty.
- Our economy is fuelled by growth. Any kind of deviation from this is considered a disaster. Bigger houses, better cars, smarter phones, more more MORE!!! But we aren’t any happier or healthier because of it. In fact, the money to happiness ratio is a bit like a bell curve. Money does make you happy to the point where you can provide for yourself and your loved ones comfortably. But more money doesn’t make you ‘more happy’.
- The drive to lose more weight, be more fit and toned can also play into these extremes. Lose the last 5 kilos, get a new personal best, go harder, toughen up. We need to be thinner, smarter, stronger, faster, better.
All these things begin with wanting more than you have or are. Scarcity says “I don’t have enough”. Abundance says “I want/need more”. The Abundance/Scarcity coin is really the ‘Not Enough’ coin.
Not thin enough, buff enough, rich enough, pretty enough, confident enough, promoted enough, recognised enough…
Now I’m not saying that having a goal to improve your fitness, or to create a better life for yourself, or even to lift the third world out of poverty aren’t worthy goals.
Of course they are. With the right intention.
People in developing countries need the same rights as we enjoy in the West. The right to independence, clean water, safety, enough food… But if everyone used resources in the same way we do, then we’d need 3.5 planets to sustain us.
Becoming fit and strong is a worthwhile pursuit, but not at the expense of your mental health and emotional wellbeing. Earning money is fine, but not at the expense of another’s freedom.
So how can we change the intention in order to have more sustainable progress?
I believe to really shift these paradigms we need to move from an Abundance mindset to an Enoughness mindset.
The opposite of scarcity isn’t abundance. The opposite of scarcity is enough. - click to tweet
Whilst scarcity is laden with fear and abundance can have a spirit of striving about it; enoughness has an essence of rest.
For me, enoughness is a huge sigh of relief. All the striving, guilt, fear are washed away and replaced by a deep sense of calm.
“We’re not invited towards contentment. We’re not invited towards saying “ah, this moment is enough”. If that happened, the economy would collapse” - Tara Brach
This quote from Tara Brach really solidifies my belief in the Law of Enoughness.
Enoughness says “Well done, great workout today”
Enoughness says “I love myself unconditionally”
Enoughness says “I’m so glad I listen to and respect my body”
Enoughness says “Rather than increasing the living standards of the world’s poor through pure economic growth (abundance) and decreasing the amount of Western consumerism (scarcity), we can share our resources sustainably”
Enoughness says “Let’s move to an economy where we also value connection, contentment and community.
Enoughness says “I was born worthy of love and belonging”
Enoughness says “Let’s stop designing products with planned obsolescence and create products that have minimal environmental impact and maximal social benefit”
You can see that Enoughness is inclusive, innovative and can drive what a very wise friend of mine calls “the aspirational cycle”. This is the design cycle of products that society aspires to have which is shifting from things like fancy cars and bling into upcycled bicycles and efficient solar panels.
A comfortable, worthwhile life doesn’t have to come at the cost of our planet or its people. And I really believe this is possible if we move to a sustainable mindset of The Law of Enoughness.
What do you think? Does the Law of Abundance work for you? Does having enough mean more to you than having a lot? Would you call Enoughness something else?