Almost everyone in spiritual circles talks about abundance these days, with the result that a lot of people are striving to achieve it—and simultaneously wondering why their efforts appear to be failing. Maybe they aren’t “doing it right.” Maybe, secretly, God doesn’t think they really deserve it. Maybe they screwed up somehow. The truth is that there’s nothing wrong with you, but by striving for abundance, you are effectively blocking it.
When I was a kid, I lived in one of the nicest homes in our small, rural Texas town. It didn’t start out that way. When my parents bought the house, it was a tumble-down old crackerbox farmhouse, which my parents poured many thousands of dollars into. They put in insulation, new walls, new floors, new rooms, central heat and air, and added a new roof and brick siding. Inside the house, my mother kept the knick-knacks under glass and cleaned it so religiously that you’d think Jesus was coming for dinner. To those outside the family, this looked like wealth, and it was, although my parents would scoff at that because they didn’t feel like they made very much money. My dad was in the military (retired) and was then doing the same job as a civilian, and my mother was an administrative assistant. Neither one of them had a college education, so it’s true that they weren’t millionaires, but then again, they managed to find plenty of money to spend on the house.
When I was in high school, I was good friends with a girl who lived in a humble home with humble furnishings, and housecleaning was clearly not the family priority. Her parents and her older sister worked in the local factory, and she also expected to work there, too. The two of us came from very different backgrounds and lifestyles, but I loved to be in her home. In many ways, I preferred it to my own. Why? Her home was warmer, more loving, and above all, they simply appreciated one another and what they had. My home was oh-so-neat, but it was cold, and my parents were always complaining about what they did not have.
At the time, however, I was genuinely perplexed by my friend’s lack of ambition. She was smart. She was talented. Why would she go to work at the factory? Didn’t she want a bigger house? Didn’t she want more money? My friend would just smile at me gently and let me know that she was happy as she was. She got married after graduation, and they bought a small manufactured home, which was placed next to her parents’ house. Her husband had to commute nearly two hours one way to work, but she was where she wanted to be and had the life she wanted to live.
The moral of my story is not that you should never have ambitions or goals. Without those things, nothing would ever happen. But there is an art to understanding when the goal has been achieved, even if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would. My parents were never content to remodel a house once. If they lived there long enough, the house would go through at least two significant changes. They were never “finished.” The house was never “good enough.” So they could not experience their gratitude for what they had.
So if you’re striving for abundance and frustrated that it doesn’t magically appear in your bank account, please understand that you are not seeing your abundance. You are abundant right now. In our consumer economy, we are so trained to believe that abundance manifests in the form of pretty things and large things and lots of zeros at the end of a number, but those things don’t really have anything to do with it. The money in your bank is largely vapor, anyway—you shovel some numbers over there, some get shoveled back to you, some get shoveled into that pile… If you’ve ever played Monopoly, then you know. Life really isn’t any different. That’s just stuff. You can enjoy the stuff. You can appreciate the stuff. You can be absolutely grateful for that new pair of shoes you needed. But it’s still just stuff.
Abundance is first and foremost a state of mind. When I first went to my friend’s house, I saw poverty. As I came to appreciate what they had, however, I saw abundance. The phrase “poverty of spirit” did not apply to that home. It did, however, apply to mine. This is what she taught me.
It does not matter how much you have or what it looks like. Gratitude is the emotion that will lead to an abundant state of mind, which will help you get into the flow, and then as you learn to trust this beautiful thing you cannot control, you will always have what you need when you need it. You have a Divine mission on this Earth, and Spirit will give you everything you need to achieve that mission—if you’re open to it. It may look like a million-dollar house in Malibu. It may also look like a cabin in the woods. It may not look at all like you hoped it would. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you fulfill your mission to the best of your ability, and when you are on that path, you will experience your Joy.
Everyone has something that they can be grateful for. Everyone can experience abundance, even if the only thing they truly have is the breath in their body. If nothing else, be grateful for that.