Depending upon our life experiences, each one of us has a different definition of abundance, much of which is learned during childhood. We are taught at an early age to either want for nothing or yearn for more. We learn how to react to those who have much more than us, and we develop our thoughts and attitudes about sharing with the less fortunate. We decide which things we hunger for the most, many times based upon those things that we lacked early in life.
As we grow and develop, we are constantly bombarded by messages regarding wealth, power, money, and greed. Magazines, newspapers, television, and movies all express society’s thoughts regarding such matters, and as time has progressed, we have developed into a more materialistic society. More emphasis has been placed on the ownership of elaborate possessions and such things as spirituality and family values seem to have been cast aside.
This sets us up for great disappointments, since we are taught that we can never have enough. It leaves us striving to reach an ambiguous and unattainable goal – to have “enough.” Yet there is never any definition of what enough truly is.
Happiness in life and an internal feeling of fulfillment come with the achievement of intangible goals, and sometimes we receive the greatest enjoyment out of those actions which help others in need. When we accumulate so much in life in the way of money or personal possessions, it makes it difficult to appreciate those things. However, when we live by more modest means and experience abundance only occasionally, it makes the experience so much sweeter and the enjoyment so much greater. For this reason, our goals of personal development should direct us to a modest lifestyle that allows for true appreciation of our successes, rather than establishing an unfulfilling expectation of constant abundance.
Find Your Definition of Abundance
To help you accomplish this, look to your childhood. What things did you have during your childhood, and what things did you lack? Are your goals for attaining personal possessions or power right now based upon those things you did not have as a child? What feelings do those possessions evoke? Determine which feelings regarding materialistic possessions you still carry with you, which ones have transformed, and why certain feelings have changed. By understanding the origins of your feelings regarding possessions, you will be able to make necessary changes that will restore your life to greater balance.
Determine the Cost of Abundance
Having an abundant supply of personal possessions comes at a great cost, and you need to evaluate whether that cost is really worth ownership of such belongings. Cost involves much more than the monetary aspect of owning personal possessions. Time away from the family, missing your children’s milestones as they grow, loss of sleep, and deteriorating health are all costs associated with maintaining personal possessions.
There is no doubt we must all provide for our basic needs and the needs of our families, but when the importance of owning possessions eclipses the importance of our own personal health and the well-being of our relationships, it is time to reevaluate our values and bring them more in line with reasonable expectations.
Balancing Your Needs with Your Desires
As with most things in life, the best way to achieve happiness is to find a healthy balance. Determine those things you need in life in order to have a comfortable and fulfilled life with your family. Then make a list of your desires – those things above and beyond your basic needs that make your life more comfortable and more enjoyable.
Determine what it would take for you to achieve your basic needs, then determine what you would need to do in order to obtain your desires. Look at the consequences to your personal and emotional well being as a result of attempting to achieve all of your desires.
Finally, balance your lists. When you are setting your goals, ensure all of your family’s needs are met. Then allow for the addition of some of the extras. Ensure you leave yourself personal time for sleep, exercise, and family interaction.
By allowing yourself to experience abundance occasionally rather than pushing to perpetually achieve it, your life will have a greater work life balance. You and your family will have a much greater appreciation for those times when you do get to enjoy life’s little extras, but you will have the proper emotional support and family network to provide you with the greatest satisfactions life has to offer.
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