How to live an abundant, happy life

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Dr. Purushothaman
October 4, 2013

Swap "sharing" for "shopping." We often mistakenly believe that an abundant life comes from having stuff, that possessions will make us happy. We use shopping for things we don't need like a drug to try and fill the emptiness within. Paradoxically, what will fill that void is not buying more stuff, but sharing the stuff we have. When we are generous, we begin to believe that we have plenty. We tap into the abundant life.
Swap "enough" for "greed." In the years leading up to the Great Recession, we defined abundance as being able to accumulate. But true abundance is based not on the idea of greed, but the idea of "enough." Pastor and activist Jim Wallis writes: "Perhaps the best counter to the culture of ‘greed is good' is an admonition that comes from the heart of our moral and religious traditions that remind us that ‘enough is enough.'"
Swap "morality" for "market." Many people say they are looking to the marketplace to "innovate" our way out of this economic crisis. But that is the equivalent of making the "market" a god—giving it power it really should not have. When people are simply pursuing financial self-interest (the highest market value) they won't always do what's right. Sure, the laws of supply and demand come into play, but they must be tempered by morality. In his book Rediscovering Values, Wallis writes: "The market can be a good thing and even necessary; but it now commands too much, claims ultimate significance, controls too much space in our lives, and has gone far beyond its proper limits… if the market ultimately defines what gets our attention, we will be defined by the moral limits of the marketplace." (p. 30, 38)
Swap "trust" for "fear." This step flows out of the previous one. Materialism is driven, in part, by fear—that we don't have enough, that we aren't good enough unless we have certain possessions. Choose not to fear. Wallis observes: "The market's fear of scarcity must be replaced with the abundance of a loving God." (p. 40)
Swap "spiritual" for "material." This step also builds on the previous one. True abundance comes when you are in touch with the spiritual. Seek God. Regardless of your faith tradition, or even if you don't have one at all, taking time to pray and meditate will bring you joy. The spiritual is not just internal, however. Every major religion includes a tradition of caring for the poor and living more simply. Generosity and simplicity are an essential part of spirituality, and the key to an abundant and meaningful life.


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