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I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought those “law of attraction” and “manifest what you want” type of tricks were a little…well, hokey. Can you really make something happen by simply willing it from the universe? Can you tell the universe to “make it so” and then sit back and wait for the check in the mail? Can you really “name it and claim it?”
I don’t think so.
I’m not a person who’s going to wake up every morning making demands of the world and expecting everything I want to happen like magic. I’ve had enough challenges in my life to help me understand that desperation and demands don’t result in instant gratification.
That said I DO believe with all my heart that positive thinking, goal-setting and focusing on gratitude–in other words, cultivating an abundance mindset–can yield fast and tangible results. We in a world where our dreams are within our reach if we can just stay focused, positive, and on track to reach them. In fact, most of the time, it is doubt, indifference and complacency, not scarcity, that holds us back. The truth is that the world is big and there is room for all kinds of success, and that another person’s success and happiness does not mean there will be less for me.
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To live an abundant life, we must be feeding ourselves both spiritually and emotionally. We must be practicing self-care, as well as caring for those around us. We must believe we deserve to have the things we want and that it is within our power to get there. We must understand that there is room for everyone at the table. We must live with wonder and gratitude every day.
Abundance isn’t about excess. It’s not about having way more than you need. It’s not about stuff. Stuff doesn’t make us happy. Stuff doesn’t fulfill us or bring us closer to our families or to God. Stuff simply takes up the empty spaces in our hearts and minds and leaves us without room for the things that truly matter. On the contrary, abundance is about feeling deep satisfaction in our hearts, minds and souls.
So how do we do it? How do we learn to cultivate a mindset of abundance? Here are a few strategies that can help.
1. Stay Organized
One of biggest ways I maintain a mindset of abundance is by staying organized. When my life feels chaotic I don’t appreciate what I have. I end up running out to the store to buy something because I can’t find the something I already own. I feel overwhelmed and out of sorts. Just like airlines tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before you help those around you—I have to be organized and on top of my own household before I can start to help anyone else.
Taking control of your schedule and home can help you take control of your life. It’s easier to serve and give to others when you’re prepared to do so. Perhaps you’ve refrained from welcoming someone into your home because you felt it was messy, or perhaps you felt bad because you didn’t have a freezer meal to share or a gift on hand when a special occasion arose. Organization is the key to cultivating a sense of calmness and feeling confident about having a method for attacking your goals.
One amazing side effect of being organized? You might find you have much more than you thought you did! Suddenly, you find gift cards you forgot about. You might find toys and games your kids didn’t remember you own. You’ll recall a favorite outfit you haven’t worn in months. When you organize your home, it can be like uncovering buried treasure.
2. Focus on the Positive
As I said before, if you can read this article, chances are you’re better off than much of the world. We have access to electricity, water, food, shelter, and clothing. Sometimes life is very challenging, painful, frustrating and hard. It can be very easy to forget that on a fundamental level, our basic needs are usually being met.
Of course, no one’s perfectly positive all the time! (…thankfully!) It’s hard to think, “Oh, I’m so glad I have access to all this fresh clean water” as it’s gushing out of a pipe into your basement. Being positive isn’t easy, but almost like magic, it eases stress.
The next time a negative situation comes up, try to think of one positive thing you’re gaining from the experience. If you’re on your way to the ER, think of how blessed we are to have access to medical support. How lucky are we to have health insurance and to live in a country where emergency response is quick and available? Think of how much worse the situation could be.
A friend of mine was telling me about how her car wouldn’t start one winter morning. She couldn’t get ahold of her husband, so eventually she had to call in to work. She said, “God must have wanted me home for a reason, and who knows what I could have run into on the freeway.” It turned out there was a massive pileup that morning on her exit. Sometimes we have to realize that everything happens for a reason—even frustrating and inconvenient things.
3. Practice Gratitude
Each day, think of the things you’re grateful for and take time to practice appreciation to God and to those around you. It’s amazing how practicing gratitude can reframe your outlook and change your mindset about everything!
When my kids are upset about something or feeling particularly cranky, we often take a few moments and think of some of the things we’re happy about and grateful for. Acknowledging and “counting your blessings” can help you realize how much you have. It also goes a long way in cultivating more generosity.
Think about it: when you do something nice for someone else, you probably feel a warm glow just from the act…but when the person says thank you, you get another boost. Not only does it give you a lift, but chances are you’re probably more apt to help them again and again. Expressing thanks is not only good manners, it also keeps good things flowing your way.
Try to start by listing three things each day you’re really grateful for. (Try five if you’re feeling up for the challenge.) Save your list in a spot you can look at whenever you’re feeling not-so-thankful—it’ll help you get right back on track.
4. Give Generously
Giving to others doesn’t necessarily mean tangible, big, lavish gifts. In fact, the most meaningful gifts are often homemade or done in-kind. When we give of ourselves and perform acts of kindness and generosity, it resonates deeply with those around us.
If you have abundance, it means you have more than enough to share. This can be more than enough time, kindness, energy, and positivity (not just traditional gifts). To cultivate your abundance mindset, give, give, give. Give like you have plenty. Maybe you can’t write a $100,000 check to your favorite charity (who could?), but you can volunteer a few hours of your time.
When you see someone in need of a meal, a listening ear or a smile, give it to him or her willingly. Some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve received have been little things letting me know someone was thinking of me—a phone call out of the blue, a kind note, an extra cup of coffee, or a bouquet of flowers from a friend’s garden. These things brighten our day just as much as a big expensive gift, and in fact, can often be more meaningful.
5. Avoid Timewasters
People who live abundant lives make good use of their time. They understand time is one of our most precious and limited commodities—and it’s also finite. Of all the things you can bring into your life (money, friends, stuff), you can’t stretch time. It is what it is.
Rather than filling your time jar with things that make you “zone out” or don’t matter, instead, try filling it up with the things you find nurturing, fulfilling and beneficial. If this means you have a TV show you love or you really enjoy playing a game as a family, by all means, don’t skip out on it. But if you find yourself vegging out in front of the television every night in exhausted procrastination mode, maybe it’s time to work on a new hobby.
Use your time to do things that make you happy and enrich you mentally, spiritually or physically. Take time for yourself to work on your goals, to organize your schedule, and to achieve the things you hope to accomplish. Do the hard things first and knock them out of the way, then see how many small things you can do.
here is a time to work hard and a time to relax and do enjoyable things. When you have time to relax, fully engage in the activity. Turn off your phone, shut down your computer, burn your favorite candle, brew up a cup of tea, and get lost in your favorite book. Make the most of every minute.
6. Write It Down
Don’t lose sight of the forest for the trees. Sometimes when we’re in the midst of goal setting, organizing, achieving and working, we get lost in the hustle. Constantly bustling around all the time makes it hard to celebrate the victories and see just how far we’ve come and what we’ve received and achieved.
Write down the things you’re grateful for. Write down your goals. Write down the things you want and the criteria you have for “abundance.” What does your best, most fulfilling life look like to you? Write down your fitness goals. Write down your financial goals. If you’re a visual person, you can create a vision board with pictures of what you want or even set up a Pinterest board you can view for inspiration.
Some of us are visual learners, so the act of writing something down or looking at it in a picture can help us solidify it in our minds. It’s literally “keeping your eye on the prize.” Putting a visual example and reminder on paper makes things seem more real, closer and clearer.
Not only does writing things down help you achieve your goals, but when you revisit your lists in a few weeks, months or years, you’ll be amazed at all the things you can cross off and celebrate. It helps you see your progress as you move forward toward living the good life.
7. Believe You Deserve Good Things
Okay, full discloser: this one is hard for me. Sometimes I feel guilty or embarrassed about my own success. I don’t want to talk about it, and I certainly don’t want to be accused of thinking I deserve it. The truth is that much of my success can be attributed to the help I’ve gotten from others along the way. For that I am incredibly grateful. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t also worked hard along the way.
I think as women, we’re often taught not to want big things and that we should simply be happy with the status quo, that we should temper our success and not get too crazy. But I am here to tell you that it’s okay to dream big. In fact, dreaming big is the only way that big things will happen for you!
8. Opt for Quality over Quantity
Maybe you don’t have every pair of shoes or every outfit you want. Maybe you can’t afford a brand new dining table from Restoration Hardware or the latest cute kitchen accessories from Anthropologie. Abundance isn’t always about having the MOST and the biggest collection of “stuff.”
Instead, it’s about having quality items that fulfill your needs and the needs of your household. It’s about having what you need and opting for the things that last and are worth their price. Care for the things you have and be grateful for them. Treat them with respect and value.
When you have a coat you love or a dress you feel really flatters your figure, you treat it with respect and care. You also feel fulfilled by the item—more than the other 10 dresses in your closet that aren’t as flattering or fitted. Try to keep the items that bring you the most joy. Pare down to the necessities and the best of the best. It will feel far more abundant to have a few valued items than tons of things you don’t care about.
9. Let Go of FOMO
You know what makes us feel scarcity? Comparing ourselves to those around us. When we look at a friend’s amazing vacation pictures, beautiful house, or fabulous wardrobe, it’s easy to feel like we’re missing out—like we’re somehow losing. Like we don’t have as much as everyone else.
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS! It’s hard to do, but taking a step back and letting go of the social media comparison frenzy can work wonders for your mentality. We all post our best, most flattering, most amazing lives on social media. No one posts pictures of their messy house, their cat-hair covered pajama pants, or their tear-streaked daughter’s face as they’re untangling gum from her ponytail. Social media isn’t reality, and in fact, it creates a distance between the joyful moments in our lives and our ability to experience them fully.
Not to say it’s terrible to take pictures, so don’t run off and delete your Facebook and Instagram. It’s just healthy to let go of the comparisons and competition. If you find you’re constantly checking up on your social media life or you can’t put down your phone, it might be time to take a break. If it’s making you sad and upset every time you scroll through your newsfeed, turn it off and walk away.
10. Learn from Everything
People who live abundantly extract something from each and every experience. They learn from each and every moment. The learning is part of the journey and part of the reward.
When we look at our kids, we see that their every moment holds wonder and emotion, because every moment is about experiencing something new. They’re constantly discovering and uncovering new things. It’s exciting and fun. It’s joyful and interesting. It’s living abundantly.
We must learn to approach life with the same zest and exploration. Even if things are challenging and painful, we can extract lessons from every single day and apply those experiences later on down the road.
When I first started learning to budget and save money, I did it pretty much out of sheer desperation. I was stressed out and constantly worried. It was a big trial in my life. When I look back to that time, though, I do it with a little fondness. Learning to coupon, create an actual budget, make a rock-bottom price list, and save money? Well, I have to admit, it was a little bit fun. Really.
As I was going through each new experience, I was learning. I was learning how to be organized. I was learning how to budget and how to spend money wisely. I was learning how to get things under control. I shared my learning experiences with my readers and I learned from all of you when you shared your own experiences with me. In that time of great scarcity in my life, abundance grew because I was learning how to create and grow.
In our everyday lives, there are so many ways to practice growing a spirit of abundance. Yes, sometimes it can be hard to believe in ourselves and appreciate everything we have, especially when life gets difficult. Staying positive and trusting in a higher purpose isn’t easy sometimes, but when we make a point of expressing gratitude and love every day, the clouds begin to part and we begin to feel ourselves filling up with a generous spirit and a mindset of abundance. In each experience, there’s a lesson to extract, so each day we have new opportunities to grow as people and live our lives to the fullest.