How to quit ignoring the abundance you have


That’s what I noticed today on my morning walk, after we got past the tiny shih tzu that terrifies my much larger dog and slowed back to a reasonable pace.

I’ve been seeing them in the stores and at the produce stands, of course. All the varieties. And on our way home, I see them in bunches, dangling from the trees.

And they’re on the road, in the ditches. Some smashed and rotten, some unripe, some perfect.

Today there were around fifty mangos on each side of the narrow road I walked. A giant tree loomed over the road, dropping mangos for anyone who walked by. These were good mangos; medium sized, red-tinted, whole. The kind they used to sell in the grocery stores in Missouri for $5 each.

Here they are, laying on the ground. Waiting for someone to notice them. Free for the taking. Abundant. Available.

A few days ago I overheard a few people discussing lack: lack of resources, in particular, lack of food resources. How difficult it is to find what you want. How you have to grocery shop in several stores to get everything. How inconvenient it is.

And here are the mangos, waiting. Pick one up. It’s yours. Eat it for breakfast. Chop it up and put it on your salad for lunch. Dice it with red onions, peppers, cilantro and put it on anything: tacos, stir-fry, curry, grilled chicken, fish, rice and beans. Or spoon it straight into your mouth.

Abundance is everywhere, but we don’t see it.

We do the same thing with other resources. We focus on what’s lacking and overlook what is abundant, prolific, pouring itself into our waiting hands.

The result?

We operate in a victimized mindset, struggle to find inspiration, rage against the limitations, see our situations through a stilted viewpoint that present obstacles instead of opportunities.

Why we have resource blindness

We fixate on what we’re missing–rather than seeing what we have, in abundance–for these reasons:

  1. We’re stuck in the past. We want to accomplish a purpose, and we’ve done it in a particular way with particular methods and tools and materials; we falsely believe that we have to repeat the same approach in order to accomplish the same or a similar purpose.
  2. We cling to what is familiar. It’s easier to follow set patterns and trusted recipes—for dinner or for any creative output—than it is to forge a new path. We may be okay with trying new things for fun, but trusting them in our creative work is a scary step. Especially if we don’t quite feel qualified, if we distrust our own skill and sight.
  3. We don’t see what’s possible. We focus too much on the details and lose the big picture. We compare the way other people do things, and feel that we have to match it, exactly, in order to achieve similar goals.

We don’t ignore abundant resources on purpose, necessarily; it’s more that our mindset doesn’t allow us to see what is there.

The results of resource blindness

It prevents a sense of gratitude and supply.

There is comfort and freedom in trusting that you are supported by a benevolent, generous universe; that there are options; that new resources are available; that having enough is the default.

It prevents efficiency.

You can waste an enormous amount of time and energy procuring what is difficult to get. When you have a plethora of something, freely and easily available, it’s much more efficient to find a way to use it. Adjust the means, and achieve the same end.

It limits your creativity.

When the resources you need are in limited supply, you become miserly with them. It’s a normal response to scarcity, but it’s not helpful for creative flow.

Creativity requires a kind of recklessness, a trust that there is more, always more; even within boundaries, you need to work with a sense of ongoing supply. Anxiety over provision will shut your creativity down.

How to see the abundance

You can shift your mindset to see what’s abundant and available rather than to focus on what might be scarce for you.

Step 1: Make a list of what seems to be in short supply.

Remember that there are many types of resources, tangible and intangible:

  • time
  • solitude
  • community
  • space
  • tools
  • inspiration
  • energy
  • beauty
  • privacy
  • raw materials
  • feedback

I’m sure you can think of more.

But what we’re concerned with are the resources you’re missing.

For me, as a mother of four who primarily works from home, solitude and privacy and focused time for work have long been a scarce resource. I wasted so much energy trying to create a routine that would allow me hours of uninterrupted work time.

I felt that’s what I needed; after all, isn’t that what writers and creatives do? Get up and write until lunch time? Or spend long unbroken blocks of time on creative work every afternoon? Or stay focused on one project until so many words or pages are completed? I was comparing my life with someone else’s, thinking I needed to imitate their methodology in order to achieve similar goals.

The means are not the ends.

And the process—putting words down, on a page—may be the same, but the way you incorporate that process into your life can vary.

I discovered that I had a few things in abundance:

  • early morning hours, after I’d nursed a baby back to sleep
  • in-between time, in short little blocks… sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes 30, often interrupted, but available. Readily available.

In order to use that time, I had to see it and recognize its potential. I had to see it as a welcome and suitable resource, not as a reject or impossibility.

I didn’t see it for a long time because it didn’t match my expectation. It didn’t line up, detail for detail, with the way I thought it should look.

Desperation will help you see resources you’ve been ignoring. So if you’re feeling desperate about something, take heart. You’ll find your resource soon.

Do this: make a list of needs, those resources you feel like you can never get enough of. Beside each one, list what you want it to do for you, provide for you. When you see what you get from a resource—the benefit or ability you’re missing—you can expand out and see other ways to receive that benefit or ability.

Step 2: Make a list of what you have in abundance.

You’ll need to start noticing for this.

Notice what comes to you without any effort at all. Notice what appears.

Don’t ignore the things that seem negative, like interruptions. A negative is the single-perspective vision of a bigger thing. It’s one side of the coin. If you have something ‘negative’ in abundance, like interruptions, it means you have the inverse, or positive, of that thing in abundance, too.

You just have to see it.

For me, interruptions to work are very frustrating. Once I get my head in the research or the draft, it’s jarring to have to leave it to explain the snack options to a small child, for the fiftieth time that day.

But the interruptions mean that I have affection, support, and love. Seeing both sides of what you have in abundance can help you recognize the riches offered in it.

No, that doesn’t mean you have to tolerate things as they are. It’s good to ask people to respect your work, to find ways to minimize interruptions, etc.

Set boundaries, but see the abundance first. Then you can set boundaries with a sense of gratitude, rather than rage or defensiveness.

Asking for change from a perspective of gratitude is better:

  • you’ll see new paths forward,
  • you’ll get what you want with much less work, and
  • you’ll reduce the amount of conflict you experience.

(Because what I’m not exactly saying but kind of implying is that you are generally the source of all the conflict you experience. Change your self, adjust your perspective, reduce the inner conflict, and a lot of external conflict will disappear. But that’s another post for another day.)

Do this: keep a log of what comes to you, unbidden, effortlessly, all of it. The negative, the positive, the enjoyable, the frustrating. Try not to label it or reject it, simply become aware of it and note it. Once you have a list (give yourself a couple of days to do this, or even a week, so you have time to get a complete picture), continue to the next step.

Step 3: Look for points of connection between the needs and the abundance.

This is the thinking part of the process. Before this, you’ve just made two lists: what you need, and what you have.

Now it’s time to compare these two lists.

What you lack—your scarce supply—isn’t important. Look instead at what you want to get from each thing you lack. If you lack time alone, for example, what is it you want from that time alone? Is it a chance to work with focus? Is it time to get inspired? Is it to feel more yourself? Solitude? What do you want, what benefit or ability would that time alone provide?

With the specific benefit of that resource in mind, look at your list of abundance. Look at the positive hiding behind each negative, and ask yourself to find the matches.

This is like those worksheets my 7-year-old does, when there was a picture on one side of the sheet and the printed word on the other. You have to match them up correctly: cute kitten photo with the word “C A T.”

This is the creative resource version of that. Match up your needs and your abundance. There will be a match.

If there isn’t, dive deeper into your need.

How to dive deeper

Are you sure you know what you’re looking for?

Are you sure you know what you need, what the ultimate craving is beneath each stated desire, each seeming lack?

Focus on the present

I operate from a belief that has made my life much simpler and richer: what I have, right now, is exactly what I need.

What I am receiving—in any form, painful or pleasant—is a gift. My job is not to judge the gift, but to unwrap it. To open it, to receive it. To accept it. To see its value, and if I can’t see the value to trust that it’s in there, somewhere.

That’s what you’re doing, right now: training yourself to see what you already have rather than to focus on what you think you’re missing.

What you have, right now, is precisely what you need. If there seems to be a lack, it’s because of your limited understanding, not due to an actual limitation of resource.

You may think that’s crazy. I get it. But how much do you truly need right now, for this moment? Not that much. What throw us off is our refusal to keep our attention on the present. We get panicky. We’re afraid of contingencies. We want to have our hot little hands on everything we might need for the present and the foreseeable future.

But the future isn’t real. It doesn’t exist. It never will. All you will ever have is this present moment. If you want to put your precious energy into solving an invented scarcity for a pretend lack in your imaginary future existence, go for it.

Me, I have other things to do.

Rethink your goals

We think we know what we need and want, but often we don’t.

We compare with others, take on their achievements or appearances as our desires, and strive for something that doesn’t come from the heart.

If you can’t find what you need to accomplish some goal, stop and ask the bigger question: why can’t I do this thing?

Maybe the answer is simpler than you think.

Maybe you don’t really want to do the thing. Maybe it’s not your goal. Maybe the universe is trying to stop you from a colossal waste of time. Maybe you’re stopping yourself because you know your heart’s not in it.

Rethink your supply

We think we know what we have. But truly, we miss what is in front of us all the time.

Nothing in this universe is one-sided.

If you think you’ve getting only negative—angry boss, boring projects, endless interruptions, mundane coworkers—it’s up to you to look at it long enough to find the other side.

Find the inverse of each negative. Look for the positive. It’s there.

Find the gift. Find the abundant resource hidden, the one that’s been there all this time.

That angry boss might give the best, most valuable feedback you’ve ever had if you ask. Those boring projects may provide you with the day-dreaming time you need to plot your novel while you tick checkmarks off the spreadsheet at work. The mundane coworkers may b the dependable support system you’ve never had from your hip, interesting, flaky friends.

And if everything in your life is negative, if the thread that flows from the beginning to the end of your day is a painful one, here is an important thing to think about: it’s coming from you.

Suffering, ultimately, has nothing to do with your situation (external reality) and everything to do with your internal reality: your mindset, your choices, your way of viewing the world.

If that’s where you are, lost in pain and feeding on negativity, what the universe is giving you is precious. Do not reject it. Do not ignore it. It is the gift of desperation, of loss, of hopelessness, of frustration.

The gift of pain.

The gift of dissatisfaction, a gift which will cause you to look at your life hard and long and objectively enough to realize you are the common denominator.

You are the cause, you are the catalyst, you are the responsible party.

What a gift.

Now you know you have the power to change it. Now you have the resources you needed all along, which were nothing more than the understanding that you create your own reality with each choice you make.

Enjoy your abundant world.

Photo by HOTCHICKSING on Unsplash