“Happiness is directly correlated to how grateful you are for the things you have.” A yoga teacher once said that at the end of a class I took part in. It wasn’t just some Zen jargon – her words are backed by research. Studies have found that those who express gratitude in their lives tend to have better health, form better relationships, and deal with adversity better than those who do not express it. If you think about a feeling of gratitude, it’s linked to abundance. But nothing about your circumstances has to change when you decide to be grateful. The money in your bank account doesn’t have to increase. Your apartment doesn’t have to become more luxurious. You simply decide to receive and experience positive emotions, linked to what you already have, rather than focus on what you do not.
Much of an abundance mindset isn’t about wanting more, but rather feeling that you already have enough. Ironically, that very mindset could be what ultimately gets you more. An abundance mindset is attractive – electric even. It’s also energizing and motivating, which are two things anyone with ambition needs. But how do you know if you have an abundance mindset or a scarcity one? Some think they have one but actually live with the other. We consulted therapist and career coach Jessica Bullock (pictured below) about what it means.
What did your family pass down to you?
“I do a lot of couples coaching and individual coaching for clients who are in the midst of moving up in an entrepreneurial journey. So finance and mindset come up a lot,” Bullock says. “We examine some of the generational patterns that have been connected to mindset. What habits have you picked up? Which do you need to put down? A lot of ideas around money come from cultural upbringings.”
What are some common generational patterns?
Bullock goes onto discuss some financial habits one might have picked up from their family. “Whatever that looked like for a person, the toxic patterns show up later in life. For example, having no savings. Living above one’s means. Living from paycheck to paycheck. No plans for the future. These are some of the manifestations of negative, toxic patterns with the relationship with money.”
Face the patterns to break the patterns
“To move more into an abundance mindset, examine your relationship with money,” she advises. “Next look at how you view yourself in the world of finances. Is it ‘Each person out for themselves, I have to get everything I can and I can’t share this with anybody?’ That’s a closed fist versus an open fist mindset. That will keep you stuck in a scarcity mindset because you believe you can’t do well if everyone does well. That’s not a healthy way to think about financial wellness.”
Are you in line with your future goals?
Sometimes we don’t even realize that what we’re doing today is in direct conflict with where we want to be tomorrow. As Bullock puts it, “Once you start breaking down your relationship with money, you start understanding if the way you’re living lines up with how you see your future self. Then you’ll start to see the inconsistencies and you can fix them. But until you face it, you won’t be able to fix it. “
Is fear holding you back?
An abundance mindset usually includes understanding that, in order to receive, you need to give. That giving can look like making an investment or hiring help. So why do some refuse to do that? “Many won’t change out of fear,” she says. “They only know how to live paycheck to paycheck. They don’t want to give for fear there isn’t enough left over for them. Fear keeps people in a place where they can’t grow.”
Examine your friends
Being conscious of who you spend time with, and what their mindset is, is critical, Bullock says. “What does your peer group look like? If you’re around a lot of people who aren’t talking about giving, they’re very selfish. There is no non-profit work being done. There’s no looking to others to see how they can help others. If you’re in a peer group that is suffocating financial growth, you have to find new friends.”
Don’t be afraid to change your inner circle
Whatever your mindset – scarcity or abundance – it feeds on what surrounds it. So be precious about who you keep around you. “Find a peer group that challenges you to think beyond what’s in front of you,” Bullock says. “They challenge you to have an open fist, to be into philanthropy. These people believe there is plenty enough for everybody. They’re not stuck in the space of ‘I can’t share the golden goose egg with everyone.’”
Where does gratitude come in?
“As a psychotherapist, we have to look at the mind and the way our psychology plays a part in our living on a daily basis. One thing consistent in all literature, whether it’s about spiritual wealth, financial wealth, or physical wealth is gratefulness,” Bullock states. “If you look at what you have, and you can be grateful for it, you attract a higher quality of life.”
Without gratitude, you get stuck
“If I’m happy I have a place to lay my head at night, and where I can host guests, if I’m overly joyed at sharing what I have, and instead of thinking ‘My townhouse is small’ it’s ‘Wow I own a townhouse,’ that helps me have a more positive attitude towards the future,” Bullock says. “Gratitude is a huge proponent for a positive outlook. If you can’t be grateful for where you are, it will be harder to attain what you want.”
Here’s a homework assignment
When it comes to gratitude as an integral part of an abundance mindset, “This is why social media can be dangerous,” warns Bullock. For those who spend too much time on social media, she says, “It’s hard to shift into an abundance mindset because they’re too busy comparing themselves to what others put on the internet. So they stay stuck in a low place. The minute they stop comparing themselves, they will instantly find gratitude. They will instantly see happiness levels increase. I give social media fasting as a homework assignment for my clients. There are immediate results every single time.”