By Jeremy Godwin
Welcome to Let’s Talk About Mental Health; I’m Jeremy Godwin and every week I look at one aspect of better mental health and I share practical and straightforward advice that you can apply immediately to improve your wellbeing.
Today I’m talking about abundance and better mental health — so get comfortable, and Let’s Talk About Mental Health…
Listen to the podcast episode now in the Spotify player below (or using your preferred podcast service; see below for links) or continue reading for the full transcript.
Watch Episode 49 of Better Mental Health on YouTube — in this latest episode I’m sharing simple advice to help you make positive changes.
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This podcast episode was originally released on 26 December, 2021.
Hello and welcome to Episode 111, and thanks so much for joining me!
This week I’m talking about abundance and I’ll be covering what abundance is (and what it isn’t), why understanding abundance better matters, and how to identify and create more abundance in your life to improve your mental health. So, let’s talk!
So there is no doubt in my mind that there are surely some of you sitting there scratching your heads at the moment thinking, “he talks about mental health all the time and now we’re getting an episode about abundance — what’s going on?” and fair point, but as I hope you’ll discover by the end of this episode, your mental health and the concept of abundance are actually very closely related… and, besides that, it’s about time that somebody had a conversation about the true meaning of abundance, rather than this cosmic cash-machine nonsense that it’s been turned into almost everywhere you look!
As I mentioned back in Episode 107, about stuff, I am no minimalist (and since this goes out on December 26, which is when all the Boxing Day sales start in Australia, you can bet that I’m probably online right now ordering myself something for the house or just for myself!), but I do believe in finding balance in all things as much as possible and so that’s why I’m talking about this subject today.
Back in Episode 103 (Let’s Talk About… Calm) I made a comment about how a lot of the topics I select for this show — which, by the way, are mostly chosen several months in advance — have a tendency of being quite relevant in my personal life when it comes time to actually write and record them, and so I made a joke that I should write an episode about abundance to see what the universe decides to throw my way… well, I ended up deciding to take that idea a bit more seriously and since this is the final episode for 2021 it seemed like the perfect time to talk about the subject of abundance (and, by the way, keep an eye out in my weekly newsletter to see if and how this translates into my own personal abundance of any kind — you can sign up for free at letstalkaboutmentalhealth.com.au/subscribe and there’s a link in the episode description).
In all seriousness though, it felt like a good topic to talk about since ‘abundance’ is a term that gets thrown around a lot, and I think it has become almost a byword for ‘money’. Money is a necessary part of life; let’s be realistic here and acknowledge that we all need money to at least pay for our basic expenses, and that will obviously factor into today’s discussion, but there is a big difference between needs and wants, and the pressure to keep up with the demands of material wants can, over time, be damaging to our mental health and wellbeing… which is why I want to use today’s episode as a way of going back to basics about what true abundance is (and what it isn’t) as a means of encouraging all of us to be more thoughtful and considered.
So let’s begin with some definitions and let’s talk about…
What abundance is (and what it isn’t)
Like I said before, the term ‘abundance’ has become a byword for wealth and affluence, but in fact in its simplest form it actually describes having a plentiful supply of something; you’ll hear the phrase ‘an abundance of wildlife’ used, for example, to describe a nature reserve, or you may hear gardeners talking about having an abundant growing season (and side note: I’m hopeful that by the time this comes out, I’m able to say that about my tomatoes, which turn out to be far trickier to grow than what I first thought!).
Continuing on from that point, abundance is about being comfortable; in other words, not wanting for anything (so, having what you need). I talked about needs versus wants back in Episode 107, about stuff, and the general message there was that we need things like shoes, but we don’t actually need ones that cost more than the average small car.
True ‘abundance’ is about much, much more than money; it’s about the quality of your relationships, the way you feel about your work, being creative, being connected with others, being connected with your true self, having a sense of calm and peace of mind along with feeling fulfilled and satisfied in life… so, you know, just a few of the small things in life! When you think about it, those are many of the things that contribute to a life of genuine happiness (which was a topic I explored back in Episode 61).
It took me a very long time to figure out how I defined abundance; to me, true abundance and prosperity doesn’t have a price, but instead it’s about fulfilment and meaning. It’s about doing work that I love, celebrating small moments of joy, being grateful for what I have, and identifying opportunities to grow a little every day. How you choose to define abundance will likely be highly personal to you, and I encourage you to take a few moments (either now or after this episode) to define what true abundance means to you.
And with all of that in mind, now let’s talk about…
Why understanding abundance better matters
And I promise that this entire conversation about abundance is not just another excuse for me to point out that chasing after stuff or trying to keep up with everyone else is a major source of mental health issues (although, to be fair, it definitely is a huge cause!), but instead it’s about encouraging you to stop and think about what equating ‘abundance’ with ‘money’ does to you. When we buy into the belief that we have to have money (and spend money) to be happy, we tie ourselves into a harmful belief system; the idea that you should just earn more to be happier can lead to some short-term increases in your sense of happiness, but as you adjust to the new situation it is inevitable that you will begin to wonder “what next?”… and that’s where we begin to feel less and less satisfied with our lives, and more inclined towards restlessness and self-destructive behaviours.
Let me share a quote from an article in Psychology Today that talks about why your mindset towards abundance matters. The quote is:
“[The common] perception of abundance is about more, more, and more. The reality is that this line of thinking complicates our ability to acknowledge the abundance around us. When we focus on acquiring money, buying the next best thing, or keeping up with the Joneses, we’re preventing ourselves from seeing all the simple goodness that exists. By doing this, the river of opportunities dams up, blocking happiness, peace, and success from flowing into our world. Learning to decelerate our lives creates the head and heart space needed to focus on the abundance of the present.”Source: https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/the-progress-project/202005/the-abundance-among-us
And you’ll find the link for that article in the transcript.
Here’s my point with all of this: I want an abundant life, but that means I want true abundance. I want a life that is full of the things that actually matter to me: joy, love, simplicity, personal growth and opportunities; a life where I am able to make the most of each moment and where I’m able to find meaning and purpose in what I choose to do with my time. For me, there’s no dollar figure on that; I simply want to be in a position where I don’t have to worry about how to pay for things that need to be paid for. Because I tried the other way of living — where I worked and worked with a focus on climbing the career ladder and, by extension, growing my salary year-on-year — and it just made me miserable. That doesn’t mean that type of career will make you miserable, because for some people it’s a good fit and they’re able to do it without losing themselves to the money side of it, but for me it just set off all of my worst attributes, and I don’t want to be that person. For me, true abundance is about being able to look myself in the eye each time I go to the mirror and be both proud of how far I’ve come and excited for the growth ahead of me.
And the thing about having an abundant life is that it doesn’t just magically happen because you rub a statue’s foot or make a wish on a shooting star; like all things, it requires time, effort and perseverance to make it happen (as well as a healthy dose of self-belief). You can have, be and do anything you want — it’s just that it’s up to you to create it for yourself.
How do you do that? Well, let’s get into the how-to part of this episode and let’s talk about…
How to identify and create more abundance in your life to improve your mental health
So let’s start with: define abundance for yourself — be clear on what it is and, more importantly, what it isn’t for you… and this involves thinking through everything I’ve been talking about and weighing up your options in terms of the type of life you want to live. If you want to live in a way that is focused on how much money you have, that’s your choice and I’m not going to tell you what to do, but I do encourage you to be fully aware that means your life will then be defined by your bank balance, and so that will have a flow-on effect in terms of the choices you will have to make to support that. George Michael said it best in his song Freedom ’90 when he sang, “Everybody’s got to sell”; the question is, though, how much are you willing to pay? Only you can decide that for yourself. A big part of this involves working through the notion of what a meaningful like looks and feels like to you, and that’s something I covered in Episode 58 so check that out for more on the subject. OK, so my next point is…
Decide on what choices you will (and will not) make to support your version of abundance — and this is a continuation of my last point, and basically what I’m saying here is that once you’re clear on what abundance is to you, then it’s time to decide on what you will and will not focus on. For example, I’ve reached a point in my life where I value my time over most other things, and that has meant that I’ve now stopped taking on new clients for the foreseeable future (and I’m working to slowly reduce my one-on-one client work, as naturally happens when coaching and counselling people). I went through a period where I was saying ‘yes’ to everyone who expressed an interest in working with me, and all that did was make me utterly exhausted… which meant that what little time I did have free was spent feeling too tired to do anything, so I was just heading towards burnout. Now I’m choosing to focus on finding the right balance between the work I do and having time to rest, relax and recharge; it takes time and it’s definitely not easy, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing because it really is! And that leads to my next point…
Keep things as simple as possible — we human beings love to overcomplicate things, but the simpler things are the more satisfying they tend to be (or at least the less complicated they are!). For example, we’ve just gone through a process of cutting out any unnecessary expenses (which is tough now there are about 478 different streaming services out there!) and we did that so that we can prioritise saving for some renovations to make our home more liveable; the simple fact for us is that our home is our priority, because we’ve very much homebodies, so that means looking at how to streamline things in other areas (like having honest conversations with relatives about the fact that we’re no longer doing Christmas presents — although I think most, if not all, were secretly relieved because it’s an expensive exercise!). You need to figure out what simplicity means to you, of course, but my general rule of thumb in life is the less complicated things are, the less complicated things are. I talked about simplicity back in Episode 63 if you’d like to explore the topic in more detail. OK, next…
Choose to create the future you want — and this was the subject of Episode 100, so I’ll just touch on it briefly here, but my main message is about considering how you can incorporate more of the things that make your life feel satisfying and joyful; simplicity (like I just said), fun, friendship, love, creativity, opportunities, energy and, most importantly, time (especially time to be able to spend doing whatever you wish, which is priceless). One way to do that is with my next point…
Celebrate moments of joy — because happiness and joy are not permanent states, which is why they should be honoured when they do actually happen. When I was writing this episode, my cat Igor came and sprawled out on my lap (he’s gigantic, so it a bit of a challenge), and then he went to sleep with his head resting on my leg like a pillow and a look of such contentment on his face (he’s a very affectionate cat); that, to me, was pure joy. It lasted about half an hour before the circulation in my legs was cutting off thanks to the weight of a giant cat, so I had to move him, but I still have that little moment of joy in my heart (and in my phone, because I took about eight photos of him — yes, I’m one of those pet parents!). So, be proactive about looking for and celebrating those wonderful little moments of your own daily life as a means of embracing the abundance already in your world. I talked about joy in Episode 93 and happiness in Episode 61, so check those out to explore the subjects in more detail. Next…
Cultivate calm and positivity — and these are suggestions I make a lot (in fact, I covered calm in Episode 103 and positivity in Episode 90), and the reason why I bring these up so often is that I have found calm and positivity to be two of the most effective ways to manage my own anxiety over the years; to paraphrase something I said earlier, the less drama in our lives the less drama in our lives. When we focus on finding balance (which I covered in Episode 49), it allows us to be more grounded and more in tune with the present so we can experience greater joy in the here and now. And speaking of the present, my next piece of advice is…
Be present — and that means just simply spending a few minutes each day to be completely and fully connected with the present moment (rather than ruminating over the past or worrying about the future). Sit, shut off all distractions, gently breathe and connect with the moment; be aware of your body and your breath, and be aware of the environment around you and notice the many different ways that abundance shows up in your life. I talked about being present in Episode 83 if you’d like a more detailed guide on the subject (and I do recommend it, because it’s one of the biggest things you can do to manage your wellbeing). One simple way to be more present and to see the abundance already in your life is with my next point…
Focus on gratitude daily — and no surprises that I mentioned this one, because I bring it up most episodes! And here’s why; according to Harvard Health (which I’ll link to in the transcript https://www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/giving-thanks-can-make-you-happier), “gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness… [gratitude] helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships” — so, I’m sharing that quote because daily gratitude practice is a really simple, effective and scientifically-proven way to acknowledge all of the abundance already in your life (and not only does it take just a few minutes, it’s also free — which is my favourite price to pay for anything!). I covered gratitude in Episode 46 if you’d like more advice on the subject. OK, next…
Redefine success — and by this I mean working through your thoughts and feelings about what success really means to you versus what you’ve simply been conditioned to believe; do you measure success in likes or downloads, or do you measure it by the impact that you’re having and the sense of satisfaction your life brings to you? This is a big part of that point I made earlier about becoming clear on your own meaning of abundance, and since a lot of us face both internal and external pressure to ‘succeed’ in life in terms of a bunch of metrics that may or may not be in our best interests, it is definitely worth your time and effort to reflect on how you want to define success for yourself (and I covered success in Episode 74, so you may find that helpful as part of that process). So, my next point is…
Know that true abundance starts and ends with what you do and say — and that’s why I often talk about three foundations of good mental health (and a happy life) as being: do no harm, be kind, and give more than you take (and those three things apply to how you treat others as well as how you treat yourself). How you treat others, and how you treat yourself, is what shapes your life and the world around you; negativity breeds more negativity, while positivity breeds more positivity, so it’s about being conscious of how that manifests in what you do and say. The more positivity you create, the more positivity you’ll experience… and the more abundance you’ll experience.
Summary and Close-Out
Because when it comes to abundance and mental health, what it all boils down to is this: Abundance isn’t some magical cosmic money factory, because money is just a means to an end rather than a reason for living. True abundance — true wealth — is measured in terms that have nothing to do with money: love, kindness, joy, purpose and meaning… these are all signs of a prosperous and abundant life, and they are all the most valuable commodities in the entire world. When you choose to see abundance as being a state of mind, rather than a number on a bank statement, you begin to see just how much abundance surrounds you every single day and just how simple it is to embrace it in a way that brings you a deeper sense of satisfaction and wellbeing.
The choice is yours, as it is with all things related to your wellbeing… so, what choice will YOU make today?
Each week I like to finish up by sharing a quote about the week’s topic, and I encourage you to take a few moments to really reflect on it and consider what it means to you. This week’s quote is by Eckhart Tolle, and it is:
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.”Eckhart Tolle
Alright… that’s nearly it for this week. Next week I’ll be doing something a little different and the episode will be Let’s Think About Mental Health; instead of my usual structure, I’ll be sharing a stack of quotes that I haven’t used in the podcast ever before and I’ll talking through what they can teach us about better mental health and how you can use them to improve your own wellbeing.
I hope you’ll join me for that episode, which will be released on Sunday the 2nd of January, 2022 (and, by the way, happy new year for 2022!). And on Wednesday you’ll also find another brand-new episode of Better Mental Health landing on YouTube (so take a moment to subscribe to my channel using the link in the episode description) or head to letstalkaboutmentalhealth.com.au where you can also join my free mailing list for my weekly newsletter (and my website is also linked in the episode description on whatever podcast service you’re currently listening to me on).
And, as always, find me on Instagram at @ltamentalhealth where I post extra content daily.
Thank you very much for joining me today — look after yourself and make a conscious effort to share positivity and kindness in the world, because you get back what you put out. Take care and talk to you next time!
Let’s Talk About Mental Health is proudly produced by Reconnaissance Media, helping you find gratitude and meaning. For more information visit reconnaissancemedia.com
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Let’s Talk About Mental Health.
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