There has to be a better answer. At least that is what I keep telling myself. For the longest time I have asked myself why there is so much misery in the world and what can be done to change it. Why is it that we have so much and so little at the same time? The feeling of exhaustion and depletion seem to be everywhere. Certainly nature is providing us with that feedback.
History and popular thinking offers us a variety of strategies in terms of material abundance. They usually fall into one of three categories:
- do without and learn to like it (stoicism)
- indulge yourself (hedonism)
- consume moderately which is a little of everything, no extremes of self denial or self indulgence. (sensible but hard to do)
I am not pointing in a spiritual direction with this post. I am raising practical considerations regarding material existence and human quality of life. Would it be fair to suggest that we do not know how to do abundance?
It seems that a lot of our attitudes about abundance derive from a desire to end restriction. Limitation in the material world has to do with the need to continually recharge and rejuvenate. There is a process to abundance – it is not just a goal or objective. It is much more than pretty throughts about gratitude.
You may have heard people say, ” I will sleep when I am dead.” That is the greed mindset. The reality is that:
- there are only so many hours in the day. Pretending that we do not need sleep does not change the number of hours in the day.
- you can only really focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking does not change that. It just makes for sloppier work.
- increased quantity of anything does not necessarily improve quality of life. A larger quantity of poor quality food just makes you sicker.
- taking more than you need now reduces your ability to take care of yourself in the future because all material supplies takes time to replace.
Unfortunately, all of our “conventional” wisdom comes from times when there was an abundance of natural material for us to use and consume. Now we have to deal with insatiable appetites at a time when there are over 7 billion of us, many of whom have had few material needs met.
Abundance does exist, but it is not fixed, permanent or immutable. We can destroy it. We can also nurture it. Perhaps that needs to become our new skill.
You can distinguish abundance from greed by how it feels. Greed feels heavy, closed, and depleting. Abundance feels light, energizing, and opens us to life and each other. So how do we nurture abundance in a way that is sustainable and meets the needs of everyone and enriches us in every way?