I don’t think there are many people out there (aside from monks and nuns who take vows of poverty) who choose to live in a state of lack.
Just about everyone strives for abundance in their lives, though the forms in which abundance will manifest will differ from one person to another.
If you’ve been feeling like you need or want a more abundant life, but you aren’t sure how to go about making that happen—or even what it would look like for you—read on.
We’ll take a look at what abundance really means, as well as how to shift your perspective and what action to take to make it more of a reality for yourself.
What is an abundant life?
A person could live in a mansion, surrounded by opulent wealth and luxury in every direction, and not have an abundant life. This is because true abundance is measured by personal fulfillment rather than the “stuff” we have around us.
It may be easy to dismiss this mindset, especially if one has struggled financially for a really long time. After all, it’s easy for wealthy people to tell others to be grateful for what they have: these folks aren’t the ones fishing through couch cushions for enough change to buy a loaf of bread for the week.
That said, you may be far more fortunate than that wealthy person in ways you can’t even imagine—it’s just difficult to see through the veil of perceived lack or stop focusing on what you don’t have (and possibly never will, for one reason or another).
Abundance is generally measured by our own perception. This in turn is shaped by our wants and desires, which are likely to be influenced by what we see and hear on a daily basis.
How many adverts do you think you see on any given day? Marketing gurus are skilled at prodding people’s insecurities and making them think that they need different items/products in order to be happy or considered affluent by their peers.
Here’s the thing: every person’s perspective of abundance will change in accordance with their circumstances.
For example, have you ever gone any length of time absolutely parched with thirst? Someone who hasn’t had anything to drink for a couple of days—and is thus suffering from intense dehydration—will be immensely grateful if they come across a bottle of water.
After having that experience, they’ll consider themselves to have an abundant life if they have a steady supply of clean water for as long as they live.
In contrast, a person who has a clean well but has never experienced thirst will not consider themselves as having abundance. Instead, they take the water for granted as something that has always been there and always will be.
The same goes for people who’ve always been healthy and suddenly deal with a severe illness, versus those who have been seriously ill and suddenly feel well again.
Those who have fasted for Ramadan develop an extraordinary amount of appreciation for the first sip of water or bite of food they get to have at Iftar. Similarly, those who have camped out on hard soil for weeks might weep at the joy of a hot bath or a soft mattress.
In contrast, those who haven’t gone without might never develop that kind of appreciation for anything.
Abundance really is all about perception.
How To Live In Abundance
Abundance will mean different things to different people. This is because every individual has varying priorities and preferences. What’s absolutely essential to one person will be inconsequential to another.
The tips below are simply some of the ways you can shift your mindset to live a more abundant life. If they don’t all apply to you, that’s okay. Focus on the ones that resonate with you, and adjust whatever you feel is needed.
1. Determine what abundance means to you.
As mentioned above, abundance is going to mean something different to me than it does to you. I feel immensely grateful that I live in a place where I have clean water and good soil in which to grow food.
In contrast, you might think that true abundance and happiness are associated with a bustling city where you can befriend numerous neighbors, cultivate a thriving and diverse social circle, and order different cultures’ cuisines for dinner every night.
If it’s helpful, grab a notepad and write down all the things you feel are truly important to you, as well as things that don’t matter all that much to you. Once you’ve determined your priorities, you’ll know what to focus on as far as your gratitude and abundance practice.
For instance, if you feel that overall health and wellbeing are most important, then you can prioritize eating a rainbow of healthy food and getting plenty of exercise.
Alternatively, if you feel that having a lot of free time for creative pursuits is of utmost importance, adjust your work and responsibility schedule to make more time to explore your creativity.
If you find that you’re in a situation where the items or experiences you yearn for are unavailable to you, then consider changing your location or your perspective. It’s difficult to live an abundant life if you feel that you’re trapped somewhere. Should you find yourself in this position, you can either move somewhere else or change how you feel about where you are.
If you’re stuck in a place for now and can’t move away from it for one reason or another, see what you can change in order to feel more personal sovereignty.
2. Place greater priority on the things you have, rather than what you think you lack.
If you’re fixated on all the things you don’t have, you’re going to exist in what you perceive as a state of lack. You might not appreciate all the amazing things you have around you on the daily, but instead are obsessed with the idea that everything would be perfect if you just had that skill, that job, that toy, that car, that partner…you get the idea.
Meanwhile, just about everything you own was once something that you dreamed of having. How many times have you fixated on an item that you really wanted for months, only to forget about it shortly after you got your hands on it?
You perceived that item to be of great value because you didn’t have it, but as soon as it was in your possession, it became simply one more item for you to drop into a drawer and forget about.
Shift your perspective to appreciate all the things money can’t buy, such as personal health, happy relationships, fresh air, clean water and food, hobbies you enjoy, and so on.
Additionally, learn to truly treasure the items you have—the ones you love dearly and would miss if you didn’t have them anymore.
This involves treating your belongings with reverence and care rather than flippancy and neglect. Some people only treat their most valuable possessions with this kind of diligent care, not realizing that there is no hierarchy when it comes to the items that serve them well.
If you keep a sword sharpened and oiled, or a crystal goblet polished to perfection, treat your other possessions the same way. Appreciate your cooking knives and the earthenware mug that’s holding your coffee for you right now.
3. Focus on your strengths rather than your perceived shortcomings.
How often do you find that you berate yourself for things you can’t do, rather than appreciating everything you’re capable of?
This trait is common in people who had very demanding, critical parents for whom nothing was ever good enough. As a result, their kids grew up having low self-esteem and possibly even “impostor syndrome.”
Their attention is always focused on the things they feel they aren’t able to do, completely ignoring the fact that they’re really great at the things they can do well.
Grab that notepad we mentioned earlier and create three columns:
- Things you know that you do well
- Things you feel you have little skill at
- Things you enjoy doing
Determine which of the items on your list are things that you both enjoy doing, and do well. Those are the pursuits that are best for you to pour your time and energy into.
Life is too short to spend doing things that you don’t enjoy. That doesn’t mean that you should let your home become a pigsty because you don’t like cleaning, as that’s simply a basic adult responsibility. Instead, it means that you prioritize pursuits that bring you peace and joy, rather than making you feel self-loathing or resentment.
If you find that you have a pastime that makes you feel inept, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Do you feel like you “should” because that’s what other people are doing? If you know that you’re good at something, and feel joy whenever you achieve a new goal, then you know where you should be putting your time and effort.
4. Don’t worry about what other people think.
So many people hold back from living authentically and abundantly because they’re afraid of what others might think of them.
For instance, I’ve known people who would have loved to cultivate thriving vegetable gardens in their yards (with the HOA’s permission), but they were too afraid of what the neighbors might think to go ahead and do that. Instead, they kept on mowing their lawns and planting tulips with absolutely no joy whatsoever.
They literally held themselves back from potential joy because they thought others might think badly of them. How does that make sense? It might not even be true. Their anxieties may have been based on their presumptions about others’ thoughts, rather than any reality.
It’s possible that everyone else on the street would have loved to grow tomatoes on their lawn as well, but they all shared the same fears.
If you can change the way you think and feel about other people’s opinions, you’ll change your entire world. Furthermore, you might change others’ lives as well.
Those neighbors who were too insecure about growing food in their yards might follow your lead. If you get the ball rolling and show them what’s possible, they’ll have the chance to break free from their own fears and follow their truths instead.
Before you know it, you’ll all be exchanging seeds and throwing street parties where you can share in the abundance of healthy, homegrown food and medicine.
5. Nurture the relationships you have with others.
Are there people in your life whom you’re very fond of? Do you ever feel that you take for granted the idea that they’ll always be there?
A lot of people fall into ruts when it comes to their personal lives. Instead of truly cherishing their partners and friends, they can end up treating them like furniture: they’re always around in the periphery to interact with as desired but don’t seem to need much care and attention.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
When we don’t pour intentional care into our relationships, they can wither away until they finally die.
Anais Nin once wrote, “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
Ask yourself whether you’re guilty of taking these relationships for granted, and then take some time to consider how you’d feel without these people in your life. Each and every one of them is a treasure, and it can only benefit all of you to appreciate one another’s company while you still can.
We never know how much time any of us have here, and countless people feel immense regret about neglecting friends and family members after they’ve gone.
Treat the ones you love like cherished plants in a garden: tend them with love and care, and all of you will end up thriving symbiotically.
6. Pare down to essentials.
Most of us have far more “stuff” than we need. If you’re at home right now, look around and take stock of everything that’s in your immediate vicinity. Should a fire break out and you only had a few minutes to grab everything and go, would you be grabbing armfuls of everything you can see? Or are there simply a few items that truly matter to you?
Remember that abundance has very little to do with physical items and everything to do with how you feel about what you have.
I don’t know about you, but I feel great when I have a few books, craft materials, and exercise gear that I truly enjoy. I don’t need to be surrounded by volumes I’ve already read and will never look at again or useless clutter that’s simply taking up space.
If you’ve been holding on to a ton of things simply because you feel that you should or because someone else expects you to do so, reconsider that. It’s far better (and easier) to focus on things you actually love than to cram your space full of items you haven’t used in years.
If you’ve already read that book a few times, trade it for another or donate it to someone else who’ll enjoy it. Are your cupboards full of utensils you never use? Pop them in a “FREE STUFF” box on the sidewalk and let those who actually need them get some use out of them.
7. Don’t waste time.
One of the main reasons why I’ve pared down my belongings to the bare essentials is that it doesn’t take much time to care for them. Dishes don’t pile up when you just have one set to wash for every meal.
We only have so much time left to work with, and it’s best not to waste it.
This doesn’t mean that you need to fill every unforgiving minute with 60 seconds’ worth of toil, but rather that you try to make your time count with whatever it is you’re focused on.
If you’re luxuriating in a bath in order to relax tense muscles after a hard day’s work then be entirely present as you do so. Don’t spend those valuable minutes worrying about what’s due the next morning or fretting over something you saw on social media. Instead, make every moment count in a way that’s meaningful to you.
Of course, if you want to try to do as much as you can on any given day, then align yourself with your body’s natural circadian rhythm. Determine when it is that you wake naturally, and start setting an alarm for that time.
Write down everything you’d like to achieve that day—including chores and assignments as well as downtime, play, exercise, or what have you—and determine whether you’re taking on too much, just enough, or if you can squeeze a bit more in there.
If you can go to bed content with the fact that the day has been well spent, contentment and fulfillment are sure to follow.
8. Let go of whatever doesn’t serve you anymore.
We touched upon discarding items that don’t have true value to you, so this is more about letting go of ideas or perspectives that no longer fit with who you really are.
For example, you may have been holding onto the idea that you’re only of worth if you get a PhD or if you finally win a gold medal in your sport of choice.
Alternatively, you may be holding onto old grudges or grievances from the past, but rather than providing you with any measure of fuel for current or future endeavors, they’re simply weighing you down.
Examine the different ideas and perceptions that you’ve been carrying around with you for years, as well as old wounds or memories of embarrassing situations.
If these thoughts and ideas aren’t enhancing your life or helping you become the person you want to be, let them go.
Think of this like cleaning out an old closet: when you get rid of stuff that you aren’t going to use again, it frees up a ton of space for new things.
The same goes for mindsets or ideologies that were foisted upon you, rather than cultivated over time. Many people grew up with families that tried to inundate them with their own perspectives and biases, but that doesn’t mean that those perspectives were a good fit.
Don’t feel obligated to hold onto someone else’s beliefs if they don’t resonate with you. It’s your life, and you can choose to believe, support, or worship whatever feels right to you.
9. Avoid chasing ideals and simply let things occur naturally.
I’ve often come across people who put a startling amount of energy into “working on their relationship.” They’re so utterly focused on picking apart any perceived miscommunication or scheduling date nights that they don’t spend any time simply being in a relationship.
It’s almost as though they’re so fixated on the idea of having an ideal marriage or partnership that they fuss over it until it falls apart.
The same can go for people who are fiercely striving toward happiness and healing but rarely achieve it. This is because the goal post keeps getting moved.
It’s very similar to the people who think that they’ll finally be happy once they’re able to buy that Ferrari or they achieve the exact body shape they’re looking for.
Yeah, there’s an endorphin rush when that goal is met, but the rush doesn’t last. All the energy that had been put toward meeting that goal suddenly fizzles out with the realization that the thing they thought would make them happy or bring them peace didn’t actually do that. Suddenly they need a new goal to strive toward, and the process begins again.
Instead of running on this perpetual hamster wheel, stop and step off. Maybe spend some time sitting beneath a tree you really like, enjoying a sunset, or hugging your dog.
When you’re ready for peace, contentment, a great relationship, or a perfect job opportunity, they will come to you. Like a skittish horse out in a paddock, it’ll come and lie down next to you when it realizes that you’re calm and receptive, rather than chasing it maniacally.
10. Stay present.
We mention this tip a lot in our articles, but there’s a good reason for it. Living life in the present moment allows us to fully inhabit the time we have left to us, rather than wasting valuable hours fretting over the past or worrying about the future.
A lot of people have experienced great frustration at wanting to do something they feel passionately about, but one thing or another has prevented them from doing so.
For example, they might really want to take up a favorite type of exercise after getting injured, and they’re chomping at the bit to get back to it even though they need extra time to heal.
Or perhaps some unexpected life circumstances have pushed pursuits further away from them than anticipated. This can all create immense frustration, which can manifest in anger and even self-destructive tendencies.
If you’re feeling pent up and restless from a life objective that you’re currently unable to pursue then redirect it. Bring your attention back to where you are right now, and figure out what you are able to do at this moment.
If one of your legs hurts and you’re unable to do squats, focus on pushups and abdominal exercises instead! Or if you don’t have the ingredients to bake a cake, whip up an amazing pot of soup from leftovers in your fridge.
Redirect your inner fire and work with what you can do at this particular moment and with what you have available. You’ll feel a lot more fulfilled than you would if you spent all that time growling about what you can’t do or don’t have.
11. Focus on your own pursuits rather than envying others.
Keep your eyes on what you’re doing rather than scoping out what other people are up to. Stop assuming that the grass is greener where they are. More often than not, what we think is better turns out not to be so at all.
If you take a group of kids out for ice cream and let them choose the flavors they like best, everyone’s going to end up in tears. You know why? Because if the kids see that the others are eating flavors that they aren’t, and are enjoying themselves immensely, they’ll get jealous.
They might think that the kid next to them is enjoying their ice cream more. Then, not only are they disappointed with their own dessert, they want what the other is having.
In fact, kid A might have a fit because they’ve decided that they want kid B’s flavor instead, but if and when they get what kid B was having, they cry even harder.
This is because kid B loved that flavor, but it turns out that kid A actually hates it. As such, A gave up their own potential happiness and fulfillment for the illusion that someone else’s joy was greater than their own.
Don’t be kid A-hole. Stop being envious about what you think other people are doing or enjoying, and follow your own pursuits instead.
You might be frothing with envy that someone you know is vacationing under the Aurora Borealis in Norway while you’re doing a “staycation” at home. What you don’t realize is that they’re freezing and depressed and all they truly want is to get back to their own cozy bed as soon as humanly possible.
Additionally, keep in mind that your perceptions of other people are likely both unrealistic and rather biased. You might be projecting your own narratives if you assume that the person you’re envying or trying to one-up has it so much better than you do. Unless you’ve lived with someone 24/7 for years, you’ll have a very narrow idea of what their life is really like.
Instead of envying someone or trying to outdo them, try to adopt what you feel are their approaches to success. For example, if someone’s working on a project differently than you are and is more successful at it, try your hand at a technique that’s similar to theirs.
You don’t have to discard your own methods, but rather expand your repertoire so you have more skills at your disposal. By taking this approach, you’ll reap the dual rewards of learning how to be less competitive while also improving your chances of success by broadening your skillset.
Your life is already far more abundant than you realize, and it will become even more so when you change certain perspectives you’ve been carrying. Stay present, truly appreciate everything—and everyone—you have in your life, and take the time to cherish every experience.
It’s very likely that in less time than you might expect, your internal dialog will shift from focusing on all the things you feel you don’t have to immense gratitude for every single thing you do have.
If you find that you absolutely cannot shift into a positive, more abundant mindset no matter what you do, and you’re struggling with intrusive thoughts and feelings of lack or inadequacy, consider booking some time with a therapist.
There may be subconscious blocks that you aren’t aware of that are preventing you from living the abundant life that’s best for you. As such, you may benefit from a bit of help unearthing those blockages and breaking through them.