Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Problem with "Abundance Consciousness"

For years, probably centuries, there's been a commonly held belief that scarcity is bad and abundance is good. Granted, we all agree that lack or not enough can be a real problem. Not enough food to survive, not enough money to pay the rent, not enough sleep to function properly, not enough clean water to drink---these are serious issues.

But what about too much? Is that a problem? Ours is a culture that values more-more-more, but then we turn around and complain about our cluttered homes and our overweight bodies. Most of us have too much stuff, and eat in excess. Some of us drink too much, or shop too much, or think too much. Or watch too much TV. We're crazy-busy because we do too much. We pack our days to overflowing, and then we walk around wishing that life or the universe would bring us more "abundance."

Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, takes a serious look at the poverty consciousness that makes us think that enough is never really enough. She advocates for sufficiency, or the idea that there actually is enough for everybody, and when we notice and are grateful for having enough, it unleashes a flood of (otherwise unavailable) energy that we could use to live better, more purposeful, socially responsible, and emotionally satisfying lives.

If scarcity means not enough and abundance means your cup runneth over, they are in effect opposite extremes. The overflowing cup sounds better to us, of course, but is this really in our (and the world's) best interest? The US probably throws away enough food everyday to feed a substantial portion of the impoverished world.

Somewhere between lack and overabundance lies that happy place of enough where our needs are met and we are grateful for what we have. We aren't striving to keep up with the Jones's, or calming our overdoing-related stress with too much food, alcohol, or material possessions/status symbols. We use that extra time and spaciousness to make the most of our lives and our important relationships. We make decisions based on what is best for us, our families and the world, and not on what others are doing or what they might think of us, or on our lack-consciousness.

This week, I invite you to examine your relationship with scarcity, sufficiency, and abundance. In what areas of your life is there truly not enough? In what areas is there too much? And where do you experience what Lynne Twist calls "the exquisite experience of sufficiency."?