There’s a lot of rhetoric surrounding the “abundance mindset,” but what is that? It’s one of those trendy glass-half-full terms people tell you that you should have before they play on your fear of scarcity and FOMO to get you to buy their product. I think many of us have a distorted view of what abundance is, because we’d like it to have more things instead of feeling as if we have enough already.

“We are buried beneath the weight of information, which is being confused with knowledge; quantity is being confused with abundance and wealth with happiness.” —Tom Waits

In buddhism, abundance is having what we feel we need. John C. Maxwell says it’s a feeling of worthiness and security. There’s enough pie for everyone. I’ve been told to embrace an abundance mindset to feel more comfortable about spending big sums of money. There’s more where that came from…

I’m working on a collection of short stories right now, and recently went to a Prompts and Pints event (writing, beer, and popcorn go really well together) to oil up my rusty creative writing gears. As we gingerly tore open our final prompts of the evening, setting them down, I could clearly see the effect of this word—abundance. Wince.

The room got quiet as we all took pen to paper (yes, we did this old-school, no computers allowed!) to explore how we felt about the word and our relation to it. This is the edited version of what I wrote (and then read aloud, which was scary even in front of only a few people.

Abundance is…the willingness to give

Sometimes we give out of obligation or guilt or because we can’t say no. I think real feelings of abundance happen when you give freely (knowledge, love, understanding) because you want to. I have everything I need right now and I’m happy to share because it takes nothing from me while giving more to you. It builds equality.

Abundance is…embracing your humanity

When you stop constantly judging your flaws and other people’s perceived shortcomings, you begin to observe how things are without all the chitter-chatter in the background. You accept who you are, you accept that no person or society is perfect and, without being complacent, you accept how things are without trying to look away. You laugh at what it means to be human because you know we’re probably not that important in the grand scheme of the universe.

Abundance is…not giving a fuck what anyone else is doing

Comparing yourself to someone else is a meaningless exercise because you can never know how your life truly compares to theirs—the comparison is superficial. Abundance isn’t saying that you don’t care what other people think, it’s not even thinking about saying that. You do your thing and they’ll do theirs. You’ll catch up over coffee and you’ll cry over loss. You care about each other deeply, but you’re not asking yourself why you can’t have hair like hers.

Abundance is…extraordinary love

Extraordinary love is the unbridled, brave love you share with your partner or your child or your best friend. Everyone should experience extraordinary love. When it’s reciprocal, you don’t need anything else. You don’t need your cranky boss’s approval or adoration. Your heart is full.

Abundance is…being debt-free

Regardless of your financial debts, you don’t feel burdened by expectations (especially false ones). You don’t deal in debts, in I-owe-yous and you-owe-mes. You trust that people give to you by choice and expect nothing in return and vice versa.

Abundance is…taking myself out for a sherry and a read mid-afternoon because I want to

The other day, I was walking downtown, feeling a little scatterbrained. I’d just been to a couple of appointments, was knocking things off my to-do list, and it was time to go home. I knew that as soon as I got home, I would clean something or get some social media posts written and I needed to recoup. I looked at my phone: 3:30pm. I was technically done work for the day and felt compelled to stop at a local cafe. I pulled out a book in my purse, ordered a sherry and indulged for a very lovely half hour. At one point, I looked up and noticed how beautiful it was outside, how lucky I was to be able to take an hour off in the afternoon, and I thought THIS—this is what abundance feels like. I left feeling unrushed, calm, happy (I’m sure the sherry helped with that).

The freedom to choose what you do with your time is abundance. Allowing yourself time to breathe, to sit by yourself quietly without a to-do list when you need to, restores your abundance. You can take time away from work, from social obligations, from the hustle and worry and the news to indulge in something restorative…without feeling guilty about it.

Abundance is having enough, doing enough, being enough. You know you could have, do and be more, but right now you’re okay where you’re at.