Here then are a few tips to create an increased sense of abundance, as a reminder that even when resources are limited, there are always ways to increase our sense of bounty. I’d be curious to hear your tips as well, so please post a comment if you have ideas to add!
Remember often bounty is a state of mind
In a recent New Yorker article, Elizabeth Kolbert, reporting on books about happiness, cites that the citizens of wealthier nations are no happier than those in poor nations, and that some Americans might only enjoy their riches if they know they have more money than others. These examples suggest that once our basic needs are met, our sense of bounty has more to do with our states of mind than the size of our bank accounts.
Make a donation to charity, however tiny
Happiness studies show that philanthropy improves the moods of the givers. Spending time volunteering for a cause that is meaningful, or giving even a small donation to charity connects us to what is important to us instead of what is lacking in our lives. We also don’t need a lot of discretionary income to make a difference. After the Haiti earthquake, the Red Cross received in seven days over $24 million in $10 text donations.
Treat yourself to small luxuries
As we become more budget-minded, it’s important that we don’t become so extreme that we stop the energy flow of money altogether. In addition to making small charitable donations, we can find creative ways to treat ourselves inexpensively so we are less focused on deprivation and more focused on bounty (budgeting can be like dieting in this way). Even if we can’t afford all the luxurious we would like, most of us can manage to treat ourselves every now and then even in small ways. So if we have decided to cut out our daily Starbucks, perhaps we can indulge once a week or once a month rather than not at all. If we can’t make that vacation to France, perhaps we can afford an overnight more locally, or at least enjoy a croissant while listening to Edith Piaf! A “small luxury fund” for weekly treats even in very small amounts will feel like a small nurturance.
Do things that are fun and nurturing that are free
I recently took a class in which we were asked to write a list of what makes us happy. To my wonderment, when I looked back on my list I noticed none of them cost much money. The list included such items as connecting with good friends and family, spending time in nature, listening to music, and playing with puppies. What would be on your list? When we want to nurture our sense of abundance, we can look to this list and be mindful of taking part in things that bring us joy. Perhaps explore a part of town you’ve never seen, or learn a new skill. For those who enjoy cultural events, here in LA there are many summer free concerts, free museum days, and of course the local libraries.
Appreciate what we do have
In a recent community presentation I gave on the psychology of financial stress, one participant reminded us that we could manage financial stress by counting our blessings rather than our deficits. This may sound basic, but in the throes of financial unease, it’s amazing how easily we can forget. I personally find it helpful to make a practice of this (so I remember to do it) by making a daily gratitude list of things I’m grateful for. What does work in your life? What are you grateful for that cannot be taken away regardless of economic circumstances?
Once we meet our basic needs, given any particular set of economic circumstances, we can choose to adopt a poverty mindset or a prosperity mindset by focusing on our bounty rather than our deficits and by being open to connect with this bounty. Please share with me your ideas of how you create abundance in your life.