One of the big things we like to do here at the Abundant Home is to help everyone to make the most of what they have. That might mean making your dollars go as far as they can, making the most of your wardrobe or furnishings, or making enjoyable meals on a tight budget. And all of these things are important; after all, everyone has limited resources. Even millionaires have a budget, and some live quite frugally. But this aspect of abundance is all about stuff, and there’s so much more to abundance than that.
An abundant life means that your needs are met. You have shelter, clothing, warmth, and food. Not everyone has that, either, so if you do, be very grateful. Once your basic needs are met, however, the primary requirement for an abundant life is JOY. And contrary to popular belief, you cannot find joy in things. You can only find it in yourself. Does that sound impossible? Well, Rome was not built in a day, and adjusting your mindset won’t happen in a day, either, but bit by bit, you can make changes that will increase your joy. Here are a few to start with.
Your mood reflects itself in your physical body—sadness or joy shows on your face and in the way you carry yourself. But this feedback system works the other way around, too. If you adopt the body language of a happy person, it can literally make you feel happy. So, hold yourself up and smile more often.
It’s true that you won’t always feel like smiling, of course. There is nothing wrong with sad feelings, and you shouldn’t plaster a false smile on your face just to make everyone around you comfortable. The point is not to wear a mask, but to genuinely feel joy in your body. So smile when you think to, smile when it’s appropriate, and smile at the people around you.
Even if you’re having a bad day, find something to laugh about. Watch a silly movie (Mel Brooks and Monty Python do it for me), listen to a comedian, find a joke-of-the-day website, or just be silly. Laughter clears the air and the lungs, and it just makes you feel better. Make it a point of every day to have a really good laugh. And remember… laughter is contagious!
Act Like a Child
Speaking of being silly… Unless they’ve been abused, children know instinctively how to be happy and create joy. They are the most brilliant beings in the universe, really, because they can find a universe of interest and joy in a mud hole. Or in an ant crawling on the sidewalk. Or in the contents of mommy’s purse (oooh, lipstick). It’s well known among parents that if you give your toddler an expensive toy, the toy will not be nearly as interesting as the cardboard box that it came in. A box! Omigosh, it’s a starship/horse/Noah’s ark! Get the stuffed animals!
Children don’t really need fancy toys, but they learn to want them. We were all taught to want things, and we all learned that getting these things would bring us joy. But there’s always a letdown after the big shopping trip. Things are diverting for awhile, and then we are left with ourselves. It always comes back to us. We can find joy in a leaf on a tree if we want to. We can find joy in doing the things we love. Which brings me to…
Find Joy in Your Daily Activities
I believe that every person has a sacred person on this earth that only they can fulfill. Conveniently, that sacred purpose is the very thing that gives us the most joy. Our only job is to figure out what that is and do it to the best of our abilities.
The way to find that purpose is to make the choices each and every day that will bring you the most joy and that make you the most excited. By consistently choosing the things that bring you joy, you will ultimately travel the path that fulfills you and makes you happy. This does not mean that you will necessarily get your dream job tomorrow (although it could happen). It does mean that if you live in this understanding, you will eventually find yourself living your dream, whatever that looks like. And even if you aren’t sure what that is yet!
Choosing joy every day does not have to have cosmic implications, either. It may be as simple as choosing to have a cup of coffee in the morning, because you love it. Or calling up an old friend, just because you want to. Or saying “No” to something you don’t really want to do. Or saying “Yes!” to something you’ve always wanted to do. When presented with any opportunity, ask yourself, “What excites me the most?” Here is a link to a video that explains this very well.
Forgive Yourself at Every Opportunity
Nothing eats up your joy like self-punishment and criticism. When was the last time you said something kind to yourself? I’m guessing it was too long ago. In my book, I wrote that (hopefully) you wouldn’t yell at or berate a little kid for every little thing they do, so why do it to yourself? Stop inner child abuse! You deserve better. Really.
Perfection doesn’t exist, so don’t decide that you suck because you have failed to achieve it. No one does. In real life, supermodels don’t look like they do in magazines. In real life, people make mistakes (sometimes big ones). In real life, people have feelings that don’t always make sense. In real life, everyone has doubts about themselves.
The important thing is not that you don’t look a certain way, or that you made mistakes, or that you feel sad sometimes, or that you think you can’t achieve your dreams. What really matters is that you can forgive these things. Sound impossible? I know a secret: simply deciding that you are going to forgive yourself is immensely powerful. It doesn’t matter if you don’t do it perfectly! Choose forgiveness, and when you find forgiving hard to do, forgive that, too.
Ultimately, lack of self-forgiveness is everyone’s biggest prison, but you do hold the key. Because when you start learning how to forgive yourself, an amazing thing occurs: you begin to have compassion for yourself, too. And therein lies an infinite space for joy.