Gratitude and Abundance – 5 life lessons
In his book, Give and Take, Adam Grant discusses recent neuroscience which shows that giving actually activates the reward and meaning centres in our brains, which send us pleasure and purpose signals when we act for the benefit of others.
“One study of more than 2,800 Americans over age twenty-four showed that volunteering predicted increases in happiness, life satisfaction, and self-esteem—and decreases in depression—a year later. And for adults over sixty-five, those who volunteered saw a drop in depression over an eight-year period.”
This got me thinking about giving and receiving and five lessons of gratitude and abundance I have learned…
Lesson 1: Leave a little
Every week for the last 14 years my family goes to the local vegetable market to get our weekly vegetables. It has always been a family affair. The atmosphere at the market, in my opinion, is always made better when the guitarist/singer is there. Since the children have been little I have always stopped, danced with them and left him our spare coins from our weekly shop. Leaving the small change in gratitude of his efforts is more about us knowing that there is always something left to give, no matter how tight the budget is that week. This is similar to a great friend who was taught to leave food on his plate, to teach his brain there is always enough – abundance.
Lesson 2: Want what you have
We live in a society that people always seem to want more – bombarded with no interest on purchases, buy now and don’t pay for 18 months and advertising everywhere you turn, it seems that people can never be satisfied as they always want more. I recently saw a poster that said “Want to be Rich? – Just want what you already have.”
I love this on so many levels. While cleaning out my children’s rooms recently – they discovered so many toys, activities, books and treasures that they suddenly wanted! As I was ready to throw much of it out, the all too familiar words were uttered… “Oh, I want that!” Perhaps the key to diminishing our wants is to go through our belongings and see what we do have.
Lesson 3: Make room
Years ago, I learned about the concept of a vacuum – not the appliance, but the physics definition; “A volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, void or vacant.” Where there is a vacuum, void of space, it must be filled, Translated, for my context, this means throwing out unwanted belongings to make room for the new.
Over the years I have found this to be true… I don’t have a huge wardrobe of clothes (although my husband might disagree.) Every time I clean it out, I give my presenting clothes to Dress For Success, an organisation that helps people dress well for interviews to get back into the workforce. The rest of the clothes go to the op-shop. The next week I always find the perfect outfit and it is nearly always on special! You have to make the space, for it to be filled
Lesson 4: Be clear on your motivation
I recall crying on a colleague’s shoulder once, because I felt very under appreciated and no-one had said thank you for the work I had done. My colleague asked,”is that why you did it- for the acknowledgement?”
This took me aback and I had to reflect very hard on this. Yes I love the acknowledgement, the thank you’s, the accolades… but was this truly why I did something? I thought some more and wondered, would I still do it if I knew no-one was watching? If no-one knew it was me? This does not mean you should not give positive feedback, say thank you or give acknowledgement, as it is a human desire to be needed, wanted and loved. However I am suggesting to simply look at the motivation behind your actions.
Lesson 5: Give to get
Understand the yin and yang of life – if you want respect you first need to give it. If you want love, first you must love yourself, if you want to be rich, share what you have. Giving on its own is not enough, you must also be willing to receive. Grant Adams writes; “Since some givers tend to put others’ interests ahead of their own, they often help others at the expense of their own well-being, placing themselves at risk for burnout.” Practice being balanced and being able to graciously receive alongside your giving.
Some questions to ponder…
What are you (or could you) be grateful for in your life?
Who do you need to become to live the life of your dreams?
What do you need to ‘let go of’ in order to attract what you really want and deserve?
What do you do when no-one is watching?
How do you demonstrate abundance in your life?
Lastly while I was writing this blog, I came across this quote – a great thought to end on…