Amazing at it sounds, my inner critic got up with me and started yammering before I was fully awake. I got up because the cats needed out, but my first thought was “It’s 4:45 a.m., and I did not get enough sleep.” Feeling cranky before dawn is pretty much the start of a bad day. I fed the beasts and let them out, and while I waited for them to come back in, I staggered to the computer. It was Sunday morning and I was looking at a to-do list. My thought? “I don’t have enough time to get all this done today.”
Less than half an hour after getting up, my focus was already on what wasn’t there, what I didn’t have, what wasn’t enough. The inner critic had found his full, operatic voice.
One of the emails on my laptop was an ad for a seminar on abundance. It promised increased money, respect, happiness, sexual pleasure and satisfaction in life. That pretty much covers it. As the target audience, it was a perfect match. Awake and unhappy before breakfast. The timing was perfect to make the word “abundance” seems like the answer to everything.
“Abundance” has become a commodity–something we need to own to be assured of a good life. Abundance is the new bag or car or something you are missing and need and have to pay for. Abundance, in this case, comes from someone else so you can have it.
And although I am not the sharpest tool in the shed at that hour of the morning, I had two really sharp ideas.
First: No one can sell me abundance. I have to make my own abundance. All by my ownself, as my son used to say when he was three.
Second: Abundance isn’t a fixed amount of money, or a set salary. It’s not measured in cup size, dress size, or bank balance. If you ask people what amount of money it would take to make them feel they have “abundance,” they will pick a number far above the amount they have. Because “having abundance” means “more than I have now,” or “I don’t have enough.” Abundance is measured as lack. And most of us come up short.
Imagine telling a friend, “I am satisfied. I have enough. I am enough. I don’t want a raise or a new car.” Your friend may
take your temperature, sure you are delirious. More likely, you won’t have a friend anymore.
I closed my computer. I needed more sleep. The cats were back in. I closed the door, re-set the alarm clock and got another hour of sleep. Still plenty of time to take the morning walk and then get to work.
When we allow ourselves to classify abundance as what we lack, what we don’t have, what we are missing, we will never have it. We strive for what we don’t have, hoping to catch it, we make ourselves miserable.
When we define abundance as what we already have, and thrive in that standard, then the world shifts. We don’t strive for what we can’t reach, we suddenly have the time we thought we didn’t. When I woke up again at 6:30 a.m., I felt better. I had enough time to get the most important thing done before I left for the airport. I felt better, calmer, and grateful that I’d had another chance at abundance. Because this time I had it.
—Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who has enough and is enough. At least for this one day.