If we read any of the plethora of New Age or personal development books which deal with the subject of abundance, we can often find the same clichés being trotted out time and time again. These clichés form the gloss of the subject, but when we look more deeply into the whole concept of abundance we find that the gloss conceals a great deal of intricacy.

We may read that money is simply energy, that we create our own reality, that our level of wealth is determined by our beliefs, both conscious and unconscious, or that we can keep ourselves in a state of poverty because deep down we don’t believe that we are worthy of having wealth. The essence of most teachings on wealth creation or manifesting abundance centres around belief: the key to becoming wealthy, they say, is to fully believe that you can be and to take that belief so far that you literally know how wealthy you already are. Once you really know how wealthy you already are, riches will simply flow to you.

But for most of us, when we set about learning some new affirmations and adopting some new beliefs which will help us make our fortune, we find that there are a number of mental obstacles just waiting to trip us up. Inevitably most of us will give up and simply return to our old mindset and decide that we need to “get real” and get a decent job.

So what are these mental obstacles and why do they exist?

To my mind the pre-occupation of so many people with wanting to create abundance stems from a single source: the fact that when we are born into this world we lose connection with the source of where we come from. At birth we begin to lose the awareness of who we really are and as we grow older the connection with our true essence grows progressively weaker as we increasingly identify with a set of habits, thoughts and memories which we commonly label the ego or personality.

It is (in my humble opinion) because we lose awareness of who we really are that we always feel that something is missing and that something is lacking. This gives rise to feelings of scarcity and, as we naturally gravitate away from bad-feeling thoughts, the presence of the feeling of scarcity leads us to want abundance.

In our formative years we buy into the grand illusion that we are separate individuals, that everything we need comes from outside of us, that we need other people to meet those needs, and that we need to jostle for position with others in order to get what we need. We can’t just sit back and wait for things to come to us because someone else will get in there first. By the time we are old enough to watch nature programs on TV this message becomes so reinforced that we don’t doubt it for a moment. We become fully paid up members of the concept that we need to control what is going on around us and control other people in order to get what we need. This gives rise to the idea that we need to develop strategies for wealth creation and we need to create a mindset of abundance.

Now we could go straight to the heart of the matter and say that, because the concept of abundance creation comes from the concept of scarcity which, in turn, comes from being cut off from the source of who we really are, all we need to do is remember who we are – that we are in truth one with all creation and not separate beings after all – and that everything we need will simply flow to us. But for most of us, by the time we come to thinking about how to attract abundance into our lives, we have already become heavily identified with the ego which is composed of an intricate web of mental programs, beliefs, prejudices, likes and aversions. So, although it might sound soothing to hear that all we need to do is wake up from the sleep of ignorance and false identification, in reality we find ourselves stuck in the labyrinth of our minds, not knowing how to get out, in order to wake up and remember who we are.

Now, because we could say that we really are two people – who we are in essence and who we are in expression (or our essence and our outer expression) – we need to address both of these aspects. We have both spiritual and physical aspects and so we need to work on both. Whether we say that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience or physical beings with a spiritual capacity doesn’t matter: the important point is that both aspects exist and therefore both need to be included in our approach to life’s challenges and opportunities.

To put this another way, we are both “who we really are” and “who we think we are”. Who we really are is the solution. Who we think we are is the problem. If only we could align who we think we are with who we really are everything would flow quite smoothly. But for the most part we forget who we really are and identify with the temporal being of who we think we are. It is the very thoughts we hold about who we are which create the blocks to feeling good.

If we wake up in the morning and feel fully connected with the universe and feel the oneness of our true essence flowing through our mind and body, then there will be no need for fiddling around with mental programs – whatever needs to happen will present itself quite naturally and spontaneously. But if we wake up and feel mangled up in some way, we need to drill down into those beliefs that we hold about ourselves in order to see where adjustments might be required.

What do we mean by abundance?

In order to look more deeply into this subject we will need to consider what exactly we mean when we talk about abundance. For some people abundance might mean having more money or more material wealth in general. For others it might mean feeling like they have plenty or feeling like they always have what they need. Equally, feeling abundant could mean feeling connected, feeling a sense of belonging or experiencing oneness.

Whatever our definition, the common aspect to all these definitions is feeling relaxed and the absence of feelings of anxiety about something running out, or there being something missing.

If you simply want more money and you don’t care about feeling relaxed, then all the books about strategies, goal setting and adopting new attitudes are for you. But I would humbly suggest that for everyone, whenever we think we just want more money, that desire is being informed and created by an underlying wound which seeks to be healed. That wound will relate to feeling disconnected, unloved, powerless, disapproved of, unimportant etc. Whenever we think we want more money which will enable us to do something or because we think it will make us happy, what we are really seeking to do is create the feeling which is the opposite of what we feel deep down inside. If we feel unimportant we believe that having more money will make us feel important. If we feel disrespected or disapproved of, we might believe that having more money will bring us respect or approval. If we feel that we were never truly acknowledged on some level by other people, we may feel that we have something to prove and that becoming financially successful will prove our worth to the world.

If you think you just want more money, you can set off in that direction and hope that it brings you happiness. But for many people, having more money does nothing to address the feelings of scarcity or their underlying causes.

If you recognise that what you truly seek is togetherness, connectedness, belonging, and to feel that everything is OK, then you will need to look deeply into your thoughts.

Do you deserve it?

Some books which touch upon the topic of wealth creation encourage us to believe that we deserve to have something. Some go even further by saying that living an abundant, expansive life is our divine birthright. I must confess I don’t know what “to deserve” actually means. I know what the dictionary definition is but for some reason the words do not compute into anything intelligible. “Rights” and “birthrights”, be they divine or otherwise, leave me equally flummoxed. What exactly is a birthright and who decides what we deserve?

If I look underneath the veneer of the word “deserve” I find resonances with “I am worthy”, “I am good enough” and “It’s OK, you don’t need to feel guilty about it.” Feeling worthy or good enough are natural expressions of the consciousness of oneness. If we remember who we are – that we are an integral part of all-that-is – we have no need to think about whether or not we deserve something because we will already have that which deserving is a substitute for. As for not feeling guilty, that is an interesting point to consider. A few years ago I drove past a sign by the side of the road which said “Jesus loves you”. When I drove back in the opposite direction I could see that on the reverse side of the sign there was another message saying “Jesus died for you.” This made me laugh because I saw it as typical of how religion and modern consumer culture both manage to exert this kind of control of feeding our desires as well as our guilt. On the one hand they say “Go on, have it, you know you want it” but then later they make us feel guilty about it. Convincing ourselves that we deserve it then seems to become nothing more than a justification for the desire to have it.

As for “birthright”, this implies that we are being denied something which is ours or which belongs to us. “It’s your birthright to be abundant and the only reason you don’t have abundance is because they are preventing you from having it. They lied to you.” This kind of rhetoric just seems like yet another crass justification for wanting something – you know you can’t have it without feeling guilty so you will need a justification to assuage the feelings of guilt. Whether or not we actually have birthrights I don’t know, but what we can say is this: if everyone on the planet behaved as if we were part of an intricate web of interconnectedness and felt that we are all essentially one being, few people would feel the need for any kind of justification like this.

As Charles Eisenstein might put it, if we all start telling the story of Interbeing instead of the story of separation, we will have no need for such New Age puffery.

But, joking aside, guilt, doubt and justification are ever-present companions on our journey into wholeness, and so we must look closely at them to see them for what they are.

Our modern western culture does not encourage us to believe in ourselves: it tells us that we need to obey the rules which other people create. It does not encourage us to seek our own truth within us: it tells us that truth is to be found in books written by other people and that something is only really true if enough other people validate it. So we grow up doubting ourselves.

As for guilt, some people believe it has its roots in religion, but I believe it goes much deeper than this. Whenever we behave out of self-interest at the expense of the good of the whole or the good of others, we know on some level that we are not being true to our essence. This, I believe is the source of guilt. Because we all feel guilty on some level, it is easy for marketing people and religious figures to induce those feelings within us and exert a degree of control over our thoughts and behaviour.

Society – formed of people racked with guilt – says that we need to work hard in order to “earn a living”. If we don’t work hard we might be labelled as a freeloader, a sponger, a layabout or a leech. If we don’t work hard we don’t deserve it. Similarly, if we don’t buy into the concept of having to work hard (and implicit in that is the suggestion that we need to suffer by doing something we don’t want to do) we can be labelled as a dreamer, a fantasist, an idiot or a fool. Everyone knows that we are meant to suffer and that nothing good ever came without a struggle, so anyone daring to suggest that there might be an easier way or a way of living in which we could enjoy what we do, becomes ridiculed. In short, people like this are not approved of.

But we don’t need to be concerned with what other people think, unless of course we are carrying around a wound of disapproval – and in case you’re wondering how you can set about healing that wound of disapproval, just remember that disapproval is just a symptom of having bought into that false notion of yourself and of having forgotten who you really are. Remember who you are and you’ll have no need for wound healing workshops.

If you do feel disapproval it can be useful to realise that it is not someone else’s disapproval which bothers you: it is your own. A friend of mine used to say that I was too worried about what other people thought about me. My response was always to say that it was not what they thought which bothered me, but what I thought. It is the thoughts that I have about their disapproval which matter: in other words it is my own disapproving thoughts which cause concern. Once we see that our own thoughts of disapproval are much more powerful in our own lives than those of others, we can also look to see where we may be harbouring disapproving thoughts about others.

Is it OK to feel good?

Do you ever get the impression that the societal norm is to behave in a somewhat sedated and muted manner? How many people do know who are truly joyous and vibrant beings, really enjoying their lives? Do you ever stop to think why what we do to earn money is called “earning a living”? Do you ever wonder why products are called goods?

I ask these questions for one very simple reason: many people feel powerless to do anything to prevent the continued destruction of this beautiful planet, but there is something we can all do, every moment of every day and that is to pay close attention to our thoughts and recognise how those thoughts give rise to perceptions which, in turn, give rise to feelings which inform our actions. By making subtle changes to the way we think and the words we choose to share with others, we can choose to perceive the world in a whole new light. From this fresh perspective we can find that new ideas, creativity, enthusiasm, zest for life and inspiration spring forth in ways we would previously have thought impossible when we were busy feeling despair.

As far as I can tell we do not magically create the outside world simply by consciously choosing a few nice thoughts – if I sit here staring out of the window daydreaming about angels, that will not be enough to make them appear in front of me and give me some kind of magic lantern – but thoughts do have the power to create: they create an energy which attracts more thoughts of a similar nature. The house in which I live at the moment has some damp areas and the smell of damp is palpable when you come into the house. Recently, having been away for a few days, I came in to the house, noticed the smell and thought “I hate that smell”. On another occasion I thought “I’m sick and tired of that smell”. But then another thought came which reminded me how destructive those thoughts could be. I don’t want to attract more thoughts of hate or of being sick or tired, so I consciously chose a different thought: “I’m ready to move on from that smell”.

This single consciously-chosen thought has the power to attract more thoughts which resonate with “I am ready to move on”. In case you are reading this and scoffing at the whole idea that changing the wording of a few thoughts can really make a difference to how you feel, I urge you to try it for as long as you can and see what happens.

When my partner and I were looking for a suitable house to buy we kept finding that what we wanted cost more than what we had. This would inevitably lead us to think “We can’t afford it”. But the energy of “We can’t afford it” is not helpful. It won’t help us to create abundance or increase our income. So I made a point of rooting out thoughts like this and replacing them with more helpful ones. Maybe at the present time I don’t have the money to buy what I would like, but I’ve got what I need and if I focus on being joyful I stand a better chance of being open to new opportunities which could bring me what I would like.

Conscious optimism

Many people are a bit afraid of optimism because they see it as blind optimism and they don’t want to end up looking foolish. I’m sure we all know of someone who is so blindly over-optimistic that they think anything is possible, but more often than not, that excessive optimism is soon followed by harsh realities in which they find that it wasn’t so easy to turn those possibilities into actualities after all.

But blind optimism is not the only option. There is such a thing as all-seeing optimism or conscious optimism. Conscious optimism is favourable to blind optimism because it says: OK I know the situation is not ideal and I recognise there are a number of challenges to be met. I appreciate that some challenges may not be overcome but I recognise that I give myself the greatest chance of success by approaching this situation in a positive manner. When I think and feel positively I become open to new solutions and new opportunities.

Conscious optimism is the antidote to the tired old fight between blind optimism and pessimism. Some people are blindly optimistic because their partners are very negative. Some people are very pessimistic because their partners seem to be overly-optimistic. Conscious optimism sweeps this kind of reactive behaviour aside. Reactive responses come when we feel that too much emphasis has been placed on one side. Spiritually minded people who believe that all we need to do is listen to Spirit deny the reality of the physical world as a reactive response to the suppression of spirituality in the materialistic world. Materialists reject spiritual ideas out of hand because of what they see as a bias towards spiritual notions which reject the importance of the physical world.

Spirituality exists. Physicality exists. Light and dark, day and night, positive and negative, all exist. The way forward is not by tipping the scales: it is by creating a conscious balance in our thoughts. If our lives are not as we would like them to be, the first step to improvement is to foster a deep acceptance for what is. Then we can pour all our energies into focusing on creating more pleasing experiences. Recognise what needs cleaning and then set about cleaning it.

If you are afraid of failure or afraid of disappointment then you may find pessimism more comforting. If you are scared of being optimistic in case one day you wake up feeling like crap and realise that you were only fooling yourself after all, that you’ll never make the life changes you wanted to make and that everyone else was right all along, I have one encouraging suggestion for you: embrace that fear and make it conscious. Bring it into the light and say to yourself “OK so I might screw up, I might end up looking stupid, but who cares? At the moment I feel miserable and that is no way to be. If I adopt a positive outlook then at least I give myself some chance of feeling better. If I stay as I am I’m screwed.”

I can’t tell you if you deserve to feel good or if it’s your birthright but I can say that it is OK to feel good because the only person to say otherwise is yourself. You may have learned that you were meant to struggle but there are no objective rules for us to follow: there are only the rules created by other people. If those rules make you feel like crap then follow the direction of your own heart feeling.

Now at this point I need to address a major concern of those who think we all need to be tightly controlled and that it is not acceptable to encourage people to do what they want or to feel good. I fully accept that some people, if they tune in to the idea that they can do whatever they want and feel good, will engage in behaviour which is harmful to others or to the planet. But isn’t this happening anyway? Isn’t it because people are not allowed the freedom to express themselves that they end up feeling like they want to engage in destructive behaviour? If we showed people love, acceptance and approval, regardless of what they do, would we not help people to get in touch with their true heart feeling and want to engage in loving behaviour towards others? Can you imagine a world in which we encourage children to be themselves, to explore their creativity and express themselves? Do you really think this would lead to more harm than a world which makes people believe there is something wrong with them, that they are not good enough or that they are bad people? If we encourage people to connect with who they really are, they won’t want to hurt anyone else. It is the very suppression of the human spirit through the denial of the freedom of expression which makes people want to blow things up and go on the rampage. It is because we exclude people and perpetuate a worldview of “us and them” that conflicts arise.

So yes, it is OK to feel good and it is OK to encourage others to feel good. Better still would be to encourage others to feel good about themselves, to pay attention to their thoughts, and to connect with their heart feelings.

Escaping the gravity of old habits

As we begin to consider making changes to our thinking, we find that old habits can be hard to break. Old habits are like planets: get too close to them and their gravitational pull sucks you in. If you want to escape the Earth’s gravity you will need to generate a huge amount of force and momentum. Only when you have travelled far enough will you be able to turn down the power and relax. So too it is with changing old habits. Quite often, in order to make changes stick, we need to develop a kind of tunnel-vision towards the change which can verge on obsession. My intention is not to tell you what to do about this, but simply to remind you that it can happen. If you feel stuck in old ways you may need to fire up the rockets in order to escape their pull, but just be mindful of the tendency to end up in reactive behaviour where your focus shifts away from creating the new reality and onto escaping the old. As always, balance is the key. We need to develop enough drive and momentum to propel us forwards without becoming blinkered to everything else.

Where are we headed?

At this point it might be useful to recap on what this article is about: getting in touch with ourselves, reconnecting with our true essence, having freedom of expression, following our heart feelings, feeling good, being consciously optimistic, recognising the power of our thoughts…

Where all of this talk is headed is this: I believe that the best possible help I can offer you is to assist you and encourage you to connect with who you really are and to see how you are an integral part of all that is. If you want good feelings to come to you, you will need to get into the flow of good feelings. That means giving out good feelings and being open to receiving them. We have seen that abundance can mean feeling connected, feeling a sense of belonging, feeling a sense of purpose, having more time, or having more material wealth. Whatever it means to us, we get into the flow of abundance by practising generosity and appreciation, by receiving gladly and by giving freely without attachment, condition or expectation.

Like attracts like. Generate good feelings and spread them around. This is the way. It never ceases to amaze me how we get more of the same of what we are feeling. When we feel bad we can easily end up in a negative spiral where it seems like one disaster after another. But when we start to feel good it’s like more good news just magically presents itself.

After experiencing a bad period myself, when I managed to get onto a more positive track by following my heart feelings, I was amazed to find how I kept tuning in to other people who seemed to be saying very similar things to what I was writing about. I began to see that there is a whole group of people around the world, all tuning in to a new vision of the world, each expressing that vision in our own unique ways. It’s like we are all creating one giant story, each telling the story from our own perspective. Yet it is not only the big story which needs to be told – it is the much smaller, but no less significant, stories we tell ourselves every day. Whatever happens in life, we get to choose what story to tell about it. We get to choose how to share that story with others.

The other week a thought popped into my head: I knew I had seen an article, months ago, about some guy talking about Sacred Economics. At the time I didn’t pay it too much attention, but on this day I absolutely knew I needed to find it this guy’s name and look him up. After a bit of searching I found that the guy in question was Charles Eisenstein. When I began to read some of his writing online I got such a surge of energy because so much of what he was saying seemed to be coming from the same source as what I had been writing about. I am currently reading his book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible and have found so many themes which correspond to my own writing. When I started to read what Charles was saying I found that I felt even more connected with my own inner essence. When we focus on the commonalities in the stories we tell, we find that we grow closer to knowing who we really are. One topic which Charles discusses is the gift and how giving can play a key role in how we relate to the world and to other people. Since I started writing my book The Light Within, I always felt that the book itself wanted to be written and that any of the knowledge the book contained was being given to me. Furthermore I felt like I wanted to share this gift with others. On numerous occasions I have been pondering some mental conundrum and it has seemed like I have been given an answer. I make no claims as to the source of these gifts: all I know is that they present themselves inwardly, within my mind, and they are accompanied by a warm glow of loving inspiration and the resonance if truth. One such gift came a few years ago when I was wondering if I should change my work path to become involved in some kind of activity to “help the planet”. It seemed to me that environmental devastation had grown to such epic proportions that I felt I had to “do something about it”. One day I was pondering this when an answer presented itself quite clearly to me: it said “When people are awake they will automatically do what is right for the planet. We could force people to be nice to the planet by creating new rules but if we do this we will not address the cause of the problem. Focus your attention on helping people to wake up and you will be doing as much as you possibly can to help the planet”. I knew then that my true work in this life was spiritual rather than environmental.

Another gift came more recently when I was once again considering a change of work direction. I had decided to take a break from building websites (which is how I had earned a living for the previous 8 years) in order to concentrate on writing. I knew if I broadcast this news to people that they would start to ask me “So what will you do for money?” One evening I was pondering this when the following gift arrive inside my inner awareness: “Do nothing for money. Do everything for love”. I can’t begin to explain how it felt to receive that message. Whenever I have contemplated this message since I have wondered what sort of world we could create if enough people did nothing for money and everything for love.

When we realise that other people are looking at life in similar ways and seem to be “speaking our language” it can help us to feel strengthened, to feel that sense of belonging, of purpose, of connectedness. In short, it helps us to build that connection with our true essence and find the courage to express that truth which we feel inside.

It is by having this conversation in public, by sharing our visions of the new story we want to tell on this planet, that we will create a more beautiful world. And so I would like to very publicly thank Charles Eisenstein for making such a valuable contribution to creating this more beautiful world.

And perhaps in conclusion, to answer the question of where we are headed, maybe we could answer it by asking the question “Where are we hearted?”