You know that experience where you become aware of something that’s existed for a while and then hear it recommended everywhere?
I recently had this experience with Lynne Twist’s book, first published twenty years ago, The Soul of Money. I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts and Lynne was the featured guest talking about her experience of meeting Mother Teresa and a lesson she received from that encounter: to have compassion for the rich. A lesson I needed to hear too.
A few weeks later, in a live training about group facilitation, they referenced Lynne’s book. Yes, the one that was first published twenty years ago. It was suddenly popping up everywhere.
When I got my hands on my own copy, I saw that Jack Canfield, one of my favorite mentors, had written the foreword. I knew then that I needed to move The Soul of Money to the top of my reading list.
If you’re not familiar with Lynne Twist, she’s recognized as a global visionary committed to alleviating poverty, ending world hunger, empowering the status of women and girls, and supporting social justice and environmental sustainability.
Her work has put her in the direct company of the world’s wealthiest (resource-rich) and poorest (resource-poor) people. And provides a rare vantage point to understand how money affects our experience as people and communities.
Lynne provides accounts of people with large fortunes who are trapped by their money, live in fear of losing it and are driven by a need to get more. And she shares accounts of people with almost no money who live in communities with a felt-sense of love, abundance and sufficiency.
This likely doesn’t surprise you. Just as our consumer culture conditions us to want to acquire more money and items, many filmmakers have portrayed unhappy rich people who are reconnected with their true purpose through an interaction with someone of modest means who is an example of something bigger than themselves.
And yet, the myth that more is better is pervasive and drives a lot of our behavior. Lynne writes, “for most of us, this relationship with money is a deeply conflicted one, and our behavior with and around money is often at odds with our deeply held values, commitments and ideals–what I call our soul.”
In the messages about our relationship with money and how it affects our decisions, time use and fulfillment, several powerful themes resonated with me. I invite you to consider, how might you apply the following insights to shift your life’s experience?
“What you appreciate, and the way you direct your attention determines your quality of life.” Lynne Twist
The Myth of “Not Enough”
We’ve been led to believe that there’s not enough of what we need to thrive, so we hustle to get what we need. We’ve been led to believe that more is better, so we chase after more, acquiring more, but not able to attain enough, since more is better.
Lynne points out that no matter who we are or what our circumstances, we swim in conversations about what there isn’t enough of. “I didn’t get enough sleep, I don’t have enough time, I don’t exercise enough, I’m not thin enough, weekends aren’t long enough, there’s not enough wilderness, I’m not successful enough.” Sound familiar?
I see this in my friends’ guilt, “I’m so busy, I’m not nurturing our relationship enough,” or in the complaints of a person who wasn’t served enough refreshments in the first class cabin. And I’ve certainly recognized this tendency in myself, “I’m not consistent enough,” or, on a tougher day, “I’m not valued enough,” and on a real tough day, “I’m not loved enough.”
“Not enough” becomes a pattern. Your brain believes what you tell it the most and you can unintentionally train yourself to easily spot any perceived lack. We don’t create this mindset on purpose, consumer culture has ensured that this pattern is well-ingrained.
Lynne writes that scarcity shapes our deepest sense of ourselves and becomes the lens through which we experience life. “Through that lens of our expectations, our behavior, and their consequences become a self-fulfilling prophecy of inadequacy, lack and dissatisfaction.”
What we focus on expands, so if we focus on scarcity, of needing more, then our life experience will reflect scarcity regardless of how much we acquire, accumulate or consume.
The good and liberating news is that “we can come to learn that scarcity is a lie” and we can direct our attention to the abundance that is all around us.
You read that right. In any set of circumstances, you can create a life of true prosperity and freedom merely by the way you direct your attention. If you’re here or there, warm or cold, left-handed or right-handed, analytical or perceptive, you can create your quality of life by the way you direct your attention.
When you focus on what’s missing or insufficient, you create an experience of lack. That vision of lack becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Conversely, when you focus on the sufficiency of what you already have, it expands.
Sufficiency is the Truth
Before picking up Lynne’s excellent book, I’d been amazed by the shift that occurred in my life by intentionally bringing awareness to all the abundance in my life. As I appreciated what I had, it became enough. As I practice focusing on sufficiency and interrupting thoughts of lack, abundance continues to expand. As I practice, my mind is more and more proficient at recognizing all that there is to appreciate.We always have a choice about the way we think about our circumstances. We have abundant and powerful inner resources to support a holistic experience of well-being.
“If we look around us and within ourselves, we will find what we need. There is always enough.” Lynne Twist
We have a choice to approach our lives from a context of sufficiency, and in doing so, we discover a true freedom.
Our Conversation About Scarcity and Sufficiency Shapes our Circumstances
We all exist in a set of circumstances. While we have varying degrees of control and influence over those circumstances, we always have a choice about the conversation we have about them. The conversations we choose about our circumstances shape our experience.
You may recall, in his bestselling book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Luiz writes that it is through the word that you manifest everything, that you create the events of your life. Your word can create a beautiful dream; it can destroy everything around you. Luiz concurs that, “happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.”
I find this truth to be downright exhilarating. With my attention, with my words, I can create a beautiful life experience, regardless of external circumstances beyond my control. You can too.
According to Lynne, scarcity speaks in terms of never enough, emptiness, fear, mistrust, envy, greed, hoarding, competition, fragmentation, separateness, judgment, striving, entitlement, control, busy, survival, outer riches.
Sufficiency speaks in terms of gratitude, fulfillment, love, trust, respect, contributing, faith, compassion, integration, wholeness, commitment, acceptance, partnership, responsibility, resilience, and inner riches.
With full awareness of things that aren’t working, you can still focus your attention where you thrive and prosper. You can allow that to be the conversation that moves you forward. You can shift from scarcity to sufficiency, from complaint to commitment, from envy to gratitude.
“The levers and dials of conversation” are yours to use.
“When we listen, speak, and respond from the context of sufficiency, we access a new freedom and power in our relationship with money and life.” Lynne Twist
It takes mindful awareness to keep directing your attention to the truth of sufficiency given the extent of cultural conditioning you’ve been exposed to. But with mindful awareness, you can create an experience of abundance, trust, a sense of enough and ultimately of fulfillment just by placing your attention on the sufficiency of what’s already there.
I want you to experience the joy and expansive energy available in each moment. That you may feel peaceful, hopeful, alive.
I want you to dwell in possibility, void of artificial limits that would prevent you from being fulfilled and having a whole and meaningful life. Replacing a scarcity mindset with a sufficiency mindset will keep you seeing the abundance of possibility available in every circumstance. It will reveal your immense capability.
If you’d love support in cultivating a conversation of sufficiency about your life, or accessing the multitude of your inner resources to live well and into your deepest values, please drop me a line.
Let me know in the comments how you might shift your approach going forward. Already dwell in sufficiency? I’d love to hear your experience with that too!