“What if I can’t make this work?
What if I fail?
There’s so many things that can go wrong.”
I sprawled on the leather couch, staring up into the ceiling, spewing out these exact words to my counsellor. I let out an exhaustive sigh, defeated before I had even begun.
“Have you ever heard of abundance thinking, Jason?” she asked.
I paused for a moment, reflecting upon the stacks of self-help books I’ve read, but none of them ever mentioned anything about abundance thinking. I shook my head, then leaned forward, eager to hear what she was about to tell me.
My counsellor explained to me what I’ve been doing was the complete opposite, which is referred to as scarcity thinking. Whenever we think about doing something different in the future, some of us get caught in a web of negative thought patterns. Why? Well, my evening’s not long enough to explain, but if we’re wired to think about the worst possible outcomes, chances are that’s exactly what will happen. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Scarcity thinking is when we think about our limitations. Like in my case here, I was thinking about the many ways I would fail as a writer, as a single dad, and as a prospective business owner.
Abundance thinking is perhaps a fancier way of saying positive thinking. I kind of like the ring to the word abundance because it gives me this imagery that the possible outcome will be filled to the brim with positive vibes. Instead of thinking about the worst possible outcomes, I rewire those thoughts to give me a wealth of opportunities instead. Realistic ones, of course. This might look like:
“When things start to build traction, I’ll have the chance to meet new people, possibly increase sales.”
“I’ll at least learn something new from this process, which allows me to grow.”
“I can take these opportunities to practice all the skills I’ve accumulated over the years.”
Sounds kind of simple, but I admit, it does take practice, which is exactly what I’ve been doing over the course of these few weeks.
So what exactly am I doing to become more of an abundant thinker?
- I’m becoming more aware of my thoughts. The key is to catch myself thinking negative thoughts. Once I capture that moment, I almost wake up from that trance, and acknowledge what I’m doing is thinking with scarcity. “Wake up Jason!” or “Negative thinking alert!” are things I say to myself. This is perhaps the most crucial step, which is to break that train of thought.
- I reframe that thought with abundance. What good things can come out of a negative situation? The other day, I flew back from Edmonton, arriving in Vancouver at 5pm. Anyone who lives here knows that’s right at rush hour and driving home from the airport can be a frustrating task. In my head, I kept complaining how tired I’ll feel the next day at work because of my long commute home. I also began resenting my boss for making the request to fly home at such time, knowing that’s right in the heart of rush hour. When I realized how scarce I was thinking, I did my best to reframe it. It happened to be a Thursday, which meant the weekend was just around the corner. I was also able to meet up some friends of mine during this time because they happened to be free. That meant a lot to me given they were leaving for Japan in a matter of days. When I thought of the benefits of my situation, something inside shifted and I felt a burden was lifted.
- I practice gratitude. It’s easy to feel cynical. I especially notice it as I get older. Practicing gratitude helps me recognize the abundance of wonderful things I have around me that I take for granted. Hence, I downloaded an app on my phone which allows me to jot down my daily gratitude list. It’s easy, and quite frankly, kind of fun! Just before bedtime, it gives me a chance to reflect on my day and what I’m so fortunate to have, that many would love to trade places with me. Today my gratitude list includes: coming home to my lovely apartment, my coworkers whom I haven’t seen in a week and a half, my bed, my cat Inori who’s sitting on my arm as I type in these words (she literally is) and my health.
- I think about some positive role models. I’m surrounded by so many inspiring people at home, at work and in my community. The positive role models are the ones who are smiling, demonstrating authentic joy in life and looking on the bright side of things. If I find myself surrounded by negative energy eaters, I quickly anchor myself to anyone who’s been a positive influence in my life and mirror them. I ask myself, “what would so-and-so do at this time?”
It’s been a few weeks that I learned about abundance thinking and I must admit, it feels great to learn something new that can help rewire decades of a scarcity mindset. The weekend is right around the corner, and it also means it’s a matter of days away before Living with the Cat is officially published!