Abundance 4: Giving and Getting

I completely forgot two more things from my series of cultivating abundance – some really important parts too (so I guess it’s good that this blog doesn’t have a big following, phew!).

Counterintuitively, giving is a key part of feeling abundant. I’m currently reading The Broken Ladder and it starts off by saying that feeling poor can have debilitating effects whether or not you’re actually poor. And of course the problem with this is that numerically there is a limit on the number of people who can be poor. (Technically, this could be a large percentage depending on how you define it, but if we’re assuming that some people have to fall under “rich” and some people have to be “poor”, I guess we’d understand probably the bottom third to be poor). Technically anyone can “feel” poor even if they’re the richest person in the world, because feelings don’t have to be tethered to facts.

The way we feel poor is to look at people who have more. Thus, to feel rich, we should look at people who have less. Obviously, that sounds really condescending. I mean, don’t criticize those with less. I mean, give to those with less.

There’s a wealth of research that shows giving activates a part of the brain that is typically associated with rewards (food, sex, drugs, money). Giving has also been linked with better health outcomes, promotes social connectivity, and increased feelings of gratitude. It also just changes your worldview from inward facing to outward facing, increasing our humility and empathy. Better health, more connections, a decrease in pride and an in crease in gratitude would all seem to help decrease your feelings of relative poverty and increase your feelings of abundance.

But while it’s important to give, it’s also crucial that we be able to receive (or getting, as in, the name of this blog =D). And I’m not saying you should give because you expect to receive anything tangible in return. First, I just don’t think life works like that so you’ll be mad at me for telling you a lie (although some research shows that giving is contagious, it doesn’t necessarily mean the contagion will come back to you). Second, there are perfectly good intangible reasons to give, as listed above.

But I don’t want to only say that giving alone is key to abundance. You’ll quickly be worn out. Receiving is also key to feeling abundance. I heard something on an episode of Rob Bell‘s podcast that really resonated with me: “You don’t take good care of yourself and you wonder why you have less and less to give.”

There’s all this talk about “self-care” and it sounds really mystical and self-indulgent. I’m not saying it is, but it just seems that way. I just don’t like the terminology. But I understand the concept. There’s so much pressure to be masochists – to get by on little sleep, to be as productive as a factory-farmed animal, to give and give and give. And I don’t want to advocate that. I want you to take good care of yourself. I want to take good care of myself. Microsoft’s Satya Nadella noted: “With all the abundance we have of computers and computing, what is scarce is human attention and time.”

We have no shortage of electronics or social media accounts or advertising. We have a scarcity of care, attention and time. And part of this will take some time to remedy by finding friends and family that will fill those needs but it starts with giving the attention to ourselves and being able to receive care and love from ourselves and others.

I think there is no better picture of a life of abundance than someone who realizes and receives love and attention from friends and family, and who give it freely to others. And if you have that, money becomes such a small factor in obtaining abundance. I mean, what more could you really need?

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