For the first time, Americans reported to employers that the thing they want more than increased money is time. We all want time along with more agency on how to use our time, who we can marry, and freedom to choose and define life on our terms. Living a life of abundance has transcended the concept of wealth and financial freedom and for everyone across all genders, ages, ethnicities, disciplines and cultures. Abundance is more than a state of one’s affairs, it is a state of being, a mindset and a way of life. Abundance is not equal to the balance of one’s bank account or wealth in the traditional definition. It encompasses more than our money. An abundant life changes the way we think and experience time, our energy, our health, our creativity, or our capacity to give and to receive love.
In this short series, 24Life asked 24 of the most celebrated health and fitness and wellness professionals and authors of our time how they define abundance in their own words. Here are their words of wisdom.
Abundance is not found in the what you have, it’s how you see. When our money is unmanaged or mismanaged, we’re anxious and likely operating from our primitive survival centers, which are largely reactive. When we take control of our financial security, it gives our nervous system a deep sense of safety. Once no longer at the mercy of survival instincts, we can use our prefrontal cortex to make a choice. This confidence allows us to be more empathetic, brave and creative in what we offer to the world. There is freedom of choosing which reality we want to live in and in being able to change the game. There is a freedom of not being at the mercy of beliefs that don’t feel true, not adhering to a world that doesn’t fit who we are.
Throughout my life, from childhood to adulthood, I’ve always had a passion for fitness and athleticism. Combining my passion for entrepreneurship and growth with my passion for fitness, it is a true joy professionally to be part of Les Mills.
My personal journey—from its humble beginnings being born in a small village in the South of France, from not speaking English, to eventually forging a path that led me to work at some of the largest technology companies in the world, which took me from France, the U.K. and to Silicon Valley, and along the way—led me to become a graduate from Harvard Business School. I am very fortunate.
Gratitude. Every day I am grateful for my life. Every day I am grateful for the love, help and support of my team and the people around me. When I am grateful for every situation, every lesson and even every obstacle that I am presented with, it allows me to learn from the situation, observe from that greater perspective and persist in a way that is congruent with who I am and why I am here.
We have not been conditioned to believe in abundance. We’ve been conditioned to believe in scarcity. And we all just got to breathe on that. Whether it’s scarcity of time, love, attention, acknowledgment or position. Money tops the list. A lot of the work we do at Move the Crowd around money is being able to move our clients into a place of feeling like there is enough for us. There is enough for everyone to do what they want to do and need to do in the world. Our conditioning tells us that there isn’t. Our conditioning says that it belongs to the special people or the smart people, or the savvy people. Sometimes it gets even a little nastier. It belongs to the more aggressive people, the more beautiful people, etc. So there’s all these messages and all this conditioning that has us, again, sort of push away from or close ourselves off, whether we realize it or not, from the energy, from the source. We all have access, I believe, to an infinite supply. The practice of slowing down is about connecting. Connecting to our truth, connecting to our wisdom, but also connecting to that abundant energy that is always moving around us.
As individuals and as entrepreneurs, we tend to trade our life in different currencies. In other words, we accept status. We accept money. We accept loyalty. We accept all these—we’ll do things because there’s something we’re getting in return. But what I’ve realized is that the ultimate currency that all of us need to think about is the slices of life that we’ve been given. We’ve all been given a finite set of slices of life, and that every time we say yes to something, what we are actually saying yes to is, “I’m going to give you a slice of my life that I know that I can never get back, and that transaction feels good to me.” And if we do that, then two things happen. One, I have no guilt about saying no to things anymore because I look at it through that lens. But the other side of it is this: When I know someone is saying yes to me, I realize that they can’t get that slice of life back, so I want to give it my all.
Abundance is having more than you need. I’m always interested in how little we actually need, but we tell ourselves that we need more. So I’m always trying to remember that whatever I have is plenty and to serve. There’s one way to have a lot or one way to feel rich is to get a lot. Another way is to not need a lot and then be happy with what you have.
One of my favorite conscious choices for self-care is a daily mindset strategy called “sankalpah.” It’s a chosen inner resolve. In Sanskrit, it means the rule above all rule. And it’s really my religion. It’s what helps me regulate in a given moment, and it replaces negative voices inside my head. It’s a new inner parent with a compassionate and benevolent way of helping me make better choices, emotionally and intellectually. I encourage my students to practice a sankalpah that helps them connect with their highest truth and purpose. My current sankalpah is: “I am a safe space.”
My other favorite self-care practice is playing with my children. It’s where I feel the most playful, loving and goofy. It feeds me at every level, and it makes them so happy, too!
Mental wellness is absolutely as critical to us as our physical wellness. Think of mental health as physical health. Start taking notice of and just ask the very simple question, “Is this helping? Is that thought helping me right now, whatever I’m doing, is it helping or is it making this harder?” And then, the other one I always talk about with that is, “Is this the right thought now? Is it the right thought now?” One of the most fascinating things about us as humans is that we can use our mind to turn a system on or to turn it off. The mind can turn the system on in a mistaken way, a panic attack, or it can turn it on in a way that settles and calms my body. Look at the science behind it. It’s why we’re able to train elite athletes or Navy SEALs to tolerate cold. Their body doesn’t change. They’ve made it a habit of training their mind and body. Slowly develop the mental habit to where you will be amazed at what your body can do. There has never been a more important time for us as humans than to do that because we have information and demand coming at us in ways we’ve never experienced. Work has over-spilled the boundaries of the office, and our social life has over-spilled the boundaries of our school or neighborhood. We have got to be the ones to realize that I have to do this. This is up to me. The good news is, I absolutely can and there’s some very basic things that I can do that are going to have big results.
When I think of abundance, it feels like you’re being offered a robust set of choices and resources that are coming from sources way beyond yourself. Agency is also relevant. Agency is not a word that’s used all that much in the English language in the United States. Agency means one has a level of choice and control in your life and you have the ability to influence things. And when we live in a culture often where people feel like they’re victimized by X, Y or Z, there’s the lack of agency. In fact, another equation that came from my book “Emotional Equations” was anxiety equals uncertainty times powerlessness. When you don’t have certainty or power, this is the first step toward learned helplessness. And learned helplessness is absolutely the doormat for what’s next, which is the process of depression, emotional depression.
Joy is an embodied form of happiness. There are many joys, but when I talk about joy, I’m talking about a mind-body state that allows you to feel both good about yourself and good about the world or good about others. And there are many. When I talk about the joy of movement, I’m talking about some of those particular and more specific joys like gratitude or interdependence or euphoria that are flavors of that or collective joy. I guess I think joy is that state of mind and body where you feel optimistic or good about yourself and about the world. And again, I think you can feel it in your body or you feel it in your heart. There’s this word some psychologists use called “kama muta,” K-A-M-A M-U-T-A, and it’s meant to describe the particular emotions when we are—that are sometimes described as being moved by something. So it’s like when someone does something really generous for you and you feel moved to gratitude, where you see a beautiful sunset and you feel moved by that, where you share an amazing song and you feel moved by it, or you see an act of bravery and you’re moved by it. I feel like the joy of movement is that feeling of being—literally. It’s like the feeling of being moved. Those are the joys that I’m talking about, those feelings of transcendence, those feelings of hope, those feelings of gratitude.
Start by celebrating the feast. What’s working? What went well? What can you be grateful for? Really take time to take inventory of all those things because we usually run right past the conspiracy of good and the things we’re taking for granted. Start there. It’s a really powerful psychological priming that puts our mind into a place of positivity, receptivity, abundance as opposed to scarcity, pejorative, what’s wrong, putting us on the defenses.
Second is I’m a big believer in setting intentions and picking a theme or two or three at most. What are the big pillars? Maybe five at most. The big pillars to a life well-lived. Understanding that you’re playing your own game—you’re living life on your own terms. What are the defining ingredients of that? For me, one of my pillars to a life well-lived is self-care. Another one of my pillars is culture, experiencing wonderful new things—I go to a lot of live music shows here in [Los Angeles]: the Greek Theater, the Hollywood Bowl, the Wiltern. I take at least two international vacations a year and go to really exotic places. Those are all parts of things that feed into the story of life. Figure out what those three to five pillars are, those ingredients for a life well-lived. Another part of those practices is around my social life and not only how many friends do I see a week, but once a month, I host a chocolate tasting and bring my tribe together.
It’s really thinking about what are the practices for a life well-lived or a story worth telling. And once you name those practices, then think about creating the enabling environments and the habits, the routines that support those practices taking hold.
Regardless of that which you seek, abundance is everywhere. As Gabrielle Bernstein, author of “Super Attractor,” puts it: “True abundance isn’t based on our net worth, it’s based on our self-worth. Abundance belongs to me.” This is the true starting point for each and every area of our lives and is possible not just for each and every one of us but for all of us.
Stay tuned for the next round of inspirational thoughts on abundance.