February 16, 2009

Expanding the Pie

expanding-the-pie

It’s time for a confession: lately I’ve been stuck in a mindset of scarcity. Instead of focusing on abundance, I’ve been thinking about petty things. Naturally, I don’t like this, but I’m not sure how to fix it.

One of my heroes is Dean Karnazes, the Ultramarathon Man who runs 200-mile relay races as a solo competitor, runs 24-hours straight on treadmills in Times Square, and generally just runs a lot. Like anything else like this, some people “get it” and some people don’t.

I recently listened to a podcast interview with Dean where he was asked about some recent criticism. Apparently some people are upset that other people think he is awesome. Instead of responding with “WTF?” – a response I would have found suitable — Dean gave a very cordial and thoughtful answer:

I’m not trying to take more of the pie for myself. I’m trying to make the pie larger for everyone.

This is a beautiful example of the abundance mindset. Expand the pie.

Fighting over a Small Pie = dumb idea, rooted in scarcity, fear, and small-mindedness.

Expanding the Pie = abundance, rooted in a belief that there is enough for everyone.

Way to go, Dean. I will follow that example. I will break the scarcity thinking in my life. But first, I need to not get stressed out over the trip to the grocery store. Sigh.

My Two Years of Being a Genius

For a brief period of life, I made a lot of money. At the time, I attributed this success as a sign that I was a genius. Maybe not quite a genius, but I still thought, wow, I’ve made this happen. Great.

Then, while many things were indeed amazing about 2008, my significant decline in income was not one of the amazing things. I noticed that I had looked internally for the source of my previous success, but I looked externally for the source of the problem when the money slowed down.

I realized later this is pretty much how it works for most people in these situations: make a lot of money, attribute it to direct factors — primarily your own genius. Lose the money you’ve made, attribute it to indirect factors – the market, the economy, the competition, whatever.

However problematic it may be, this thinking is convenient for whichever side of the fence you’re on. I don’t know many people who move beyond this frame of reference, and I can tell you from experience that believing my validation in income or wealth is a surprisingly difficult habit to shake.

Cognitive Dissonance Gets Me Every Time

When so many other things in my life are going well, why am I troubled? I think it’s because I have begun to identify a gap between what I believe and what I do. Very important: when you see this pattern forming, make no mistake – it’s a big problem. It also does not usually get better on its own.

As I see it, here are a few distressing signs of my mixed behavior:

Increased concern over inconsequential things. I get upset more often than usual for no good reason. Each time I say I won’t do it again, but then I do.

A failure to think about expanding the pie. I find myself thinking about my slice of the pie. If you don’t like pie, this may be a tough analogy… but just remember, the more pie for everyone, the better.

Declining percentage of money I give to charity. Like everyone else in the dismal economy, I’ve had to cut back on a lot of things, including the amount and percentage of money that goes to charity. I don’t like this, but I’m not sure what to do about it.

Jealousy over the success of others. This one really bothers me, as it runs directly the opposite of what I know to be true. Lately I have been troubled by the success of some of my friends and mentors. I want to be happy for them, but all I think is, “What about me?”

These are the signs I can see in my own life that show me I should be worried. I’m not proud of them. (Not at all.) The only good thing is that I recognize the problem.

Advice from Friends

I asked 1,400 of my closest friends what they thought about this problem, and here’s a selection of things that I heard back:

teepoole Take inventory of your environment, write it all down. You’ll identify where trouble really is, and also isn’t.

DanielMcclure Give something away. Feel you lack money, then donate some, if you’re lacking confidence, compliment someone. Try It!

vinylart RE: abundance – Actions are more powerful. Abundant is as abundant does.

nickcharlton It’s far easier to dwell on the bad than enjoy what is good. I’m noticing this slot myself right now.

joblessmuse Scarcity thinking dies hard. And the media supports you in thinking that way. Gratitude journal is good starting point.

chloewrites Maybe if you consciously allow the scarcity mindset for a little while, it will dissipate?

planbservices Focus on others rather than yourself. How can you help them? Give your time, effort or money. Make someone else’s day.

duffmcduffee Also realize that the financial system is built on scarcity, not abundance. Until currency changes, abundance is mental.

GarfieldHerriot Write down your negative thought on a piece of paper, cross it out and write the polar opposite. Then burn it & take action

GraceJudson You can’t “decide” how to feel. But you *can* question the beliefs & thoughts that appear to cause your feelings.

creativevoyage give away $5, make bread from scratch, get out a stack of books from the library, phone your friends

jonathanmead Best way I’ve found to experience abundance is to give yourself away freely. Time, money, knowledge, attention, compassion.

[Gratitude Interlude: You people are amazing! Every day I think about how cool it is that I get to write for all of you. Thanks for your support!]

So, What Can Be Done?

The Twitter advice is all good. I do notice the obvious themes of focusing on others, giving of myself, question beliefs, etc. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones.

My gratitude journal is a bit random – it consists of entries like “Clearwire highspeed internet = MUCH better than Comcast” and “OneWorld fares are 10% off for 10 weeks!” – but hey, it’s MY LIST. Go and write your own; it should take less than one minute a day.

As a contrarian, I also like the approach of taking opposite action. When people threaten to sue you, give them what they want and walk away. When faced with declining income, give more money away.

Fighting over existing resources is definitely not an abundance-minded activity. It is an activity rooted in scarcity. Abundance-minded people are interested in creating new resources, yes? Artists create new art and entrepreneurs create new businesses. What new resources are you creating this week?

Tests and Questions

From time to time in life, we are put up to a variety of tests. We can argue over whether there is divine providence behind this fact or not, but regardless, the tests will arrive. Count on it.

When we face such a test, how do we respond? What kind of resolution do we seek? I recommend intentional living. Taking an inventory, as Tee Poole said earlier. For a few months last year I journaled my daily answers to two questions:

1) How am I feeling?

2) What do I want?

I kind of fell off the wagon for a while, but this is as good a time as any to get back on. Here are my answers:

FEELING:

Anxious, uncertain, and frustrated with myself for not displaying the gratitude I want to show (but simultaneously eager, fulfilled, excited – life is not usually so easily defined).

WHAT I WANT:

I want to have enough money. I don’t want to ask Jolie, “How much did that cost?” whenever she comes back from the grocery store. Sometimes it’s OK to sleep on the floor of the airport, but other times it would be nice to get a room at the airport Hilton.

I want to wish others well. I want to be thrilled at the success of other people seeking to change the world on their own terms. I want to support them without recognition and help them do great things.

I want to give freely, live freely, and spend my time on good work. I want to expand the pie through my legacy project.
In short, I want to lose the mindset of scarcity and reclaim the mindset of abundance.

(Important Qualifier: I do NOT want a life of leisure. I want to work hard on work that matters. I believe if we don’t enjoy our work, it’s because we’re doing the wrong work.)

Wrap-Up

When scarcity meets abundance, abundance wins – but sometimes it takes a while. Friends, if any of you feel the same way, we’re in this together.

We have to get past this. It’s extremely important, both for our own well-being and also for the people whose lives are closely linked with ours.

Yes, scarcity thinking dies hard, as joblessmuse mentioned earlier. But we have to get to it or it will get to us. The opposite of hate is love. The opposite of greed is contentment.

The opposite of scarcity is ABUNDANCE. That’s what I want.

Isn’t that what you want too?

What do you think? I haven’t resolved this issue completely, and I’d be grateful for your help.

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Pie Image by Roboppy

Comment on this article

49 Responses to “Expanding the Pie”

  1. Good honest post… not that your others aren’t, but this one would strike a chord with many, it certainly did for me.

    A couple of ideas for you – neither of them mine or original, but are working for me right now:

    First suggestion:

    Regularly ask yourself these three questions…

    1) Am I doing what I want to do?
    2) Am I being who I want to be?
    3) Are my actions leading me toward my goals?

    I can’t help with the answers or deciding appropriate remedial action, but hopefully it will provoke the right kind of thought to start you on your way.

    Second suggestion:

    I actually do this before answering the three questions above. Decide the most important things in life for you (I personally have 8 categories). I pretty sure from reading your work you’ve already done this bit – but check the same things are still important.

    Having done that, this next bit is the IMPORTANT bit… Each week review how you’re doing in each of those areas. It can be a 10 minute task, or you might spend more than an hour doing this. The point is that on a weekly basis, you’ll easily identify whether you’re still on the right track or not. This way, you should never deviate too far from your chosen course.

    At the end of the review, set a small number of key goals to achieve before the end of the following week – ones that move you in your desired direction. Work hard to achieve these above all else. If you’re neglecting anything you shouldn’t, your next weekly review will highlight this.

    Good luck.

    You’ve done it once, so you KNOW you have it in you to get it right again.

  2. Gosh. There’s a lot to absorb in your challenging and thought provoking post.

    Two random thoughts struck me as I was reading.

    You asked: “What I want?”

    Perhaps change the focus slightly and ask yourself : What do I need? Scarcity thinking focuses on those wants we have that are unfulfilled; abundance consciousness focuses on how many of our *needs* are currently being met. In the deepest part of your Self, have you defined the difference between what you want and what you need? You may surprise yourself at the answer.

    And how do you define abundance?

    The OED defines abundance as “1. a very great quantity, usu. considered to be more than enough. 2. wealth, affluence 3.wealth of emotion”. Perhaps we, as a species, want abundance (as opposed to scarcity) but, in helping everyone get a bigger slice of a bigger pie, we may need to focus on achieving Aristotle’s golden mean: the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess (abundance) and the other of deficiency (scarcity).

    I’m not sure that will help you or not, but it’s something to think about! :)
    Another interesting post from you. Thanks!

  3. “A failure to think about expanding the pie. I find myself thinking about my slice of the pie. If you don’t like pie, this may be a tough analogy… but just remember, the more pie for everyone, the better.”

    If you don’t like pie, you’ve got bigger problems.

  4. Great post Chris, it’s nice to see such honesty.

    I’ve had the same struggles and have learned to surround myself with things that help create an abundance mind set such as; books, films, people, blogs. Anything that will improve the quality of my environment will have an affect on the way I think.

    As you mentioned, giving and gratitude are very important. But do not necessarily need to be on a large scale. If we just plan on helping someone, in some way, each day, we will add to everyones abundance. It may be something small like helping an elderly person cross the street, or something bigger that changes someones life forever. But as long as we do something to help whenever we can, our long term effect will be great.

    My sense of gratitude seems to be in proportion to the amount of thought I put into helping others. When I get too caught up in my own problems, they gain power, and take my mind off of what really matters. And the longer I go down that road, the longer it takes to get back.

  5. Awesome comments everyone, thanks so much. I know other people reading along will enjoy seeing your perspective as well.

  6. Excellent post. One of my goals this year is to concentrate on abundance… this speaks directly to what I’m aiming for, as well as what my challenges are. Thanks!

  7. Thanks for this post, Chris. I don’t have any advice at the moment, as I am stuck in what seems to be the exact place you are – and I didn’t realize it until I read the post. (Spooky!) Thank you for articulating it, and for soliciting suggestions and comments. I am looking forward to what the readers say.

  8. Chris,

    I share your angst, and empathize with you. It may be helpful to think of the self as a process rather than a finished product. I believe identity to be something that can never be complete by definition – and that is somehow liberating.

    Instead, I think of my abilities – the ones I’m using and the ones I would like to develop at some point. I think of the miraculous gift of being able to teach and learn simultaneously. I guess GRATITUDE is a powerful tool in increasing fullfillment.

    Don’t think of your restlessness and anxiety as negative. I feel as you feel frequently and it fills my heart. It in my humble opinion, the Inner Creative Force of the self that aches to be expressed. The dissonance is like a psychic framework for the imagined outcome and current reality. Think of it as a device that “magnitizes” or hyperfocuses your attention towards a goal true to your heart and identity.

    Finally, thank you for your honest writing. You’ve inspired me to change directions with my blog – very fitting with the aforementioned “expanding the pie” concept.

    Thanks, Chris – really.

  9. Chris – I recently went through a similar phase and can happily say I’m now well and truly out of it and things are going great.

    And despite all the great advice on Twitter/in the comments, I know it’s hard to feel grateful and giving when (a) you feel like you already give a fair bit already (as you do with this blog) and (b) when you just don’t feel the gratitude!!

    Couple of practical things I do when I feel like this:

    1 – Turn to resources I know have helped me in the past. These are books/DVDs that I have previously had “success” with so right there, I have a positive frame of reference to go back to that I know has already worked for me once.

    Personally for me, this includes a book called “Creating Money”. It’s actually more about abundance than money and is a little bit “woo woo” at times but it never fails to help me change my mindset with practical exercises that really do help.

    2 – Do small actions that help turn the scarcity mindset into abundance. In cutting down your spending & donating, it’s not surprising that on an almost constant basis you’re currently reaffirming that you do not have “enough”.

    What small things could you do right now that would help reaffirm that you do have enough already?

  10. Great post, Chris. For me, scarcity mindset is a survival strategy that’s persevered through natural selection because it works – at least to keep us alive. But it doesn’t help us thrive. And one of the less useful effects of scarcity mindset is that it triggers the stress response, where the more impulsive reptilian brain takes over, and causes major changes in the body and mind, to prepare us for fighting and running (strategies that are increasingly less useful to us in the world of work and the way we get resources these days!). One of these changes is that the stress response causes a distinctive narrowing of vision and thinking – so we get “tunnel vision” or “blinkered vision” – great if you’re running from a lion and don’t want to be distracted by the beautiful sunset, but much less useful if you’re trying to solve more complex problems, manage relationships or plan strategies in a highly inter-connected, high-information environment (sound more like our world of work?). Aside from the fact that abundance-mindset feels better, it really is a much better place to work from when you’re wanting to solve problems (and get more of those external resources we’ve been worried about), because when we’re in the abundance-mindset, we’re relaxed and therefore much more open-mind and creative – and then we’re much more resourceful.

    So for me, it’s all about knowing how to switch myself out of scarcity mindset and the stress response, so I can access all my resources. And, since the stress response is ultimately triggered by a fear for survival, one of the easiest ways to pull yourself out of the stress response is by reminding your body that it’s still alive. How do you do that? Well, if you wanted to check whether someone’s alive, the first thing we’d all do is check their breathing. When we’re afraid, we constrict or hold in our breath. By simply consciously breathing deeply, you can remind your body that it’s still alive, switch off the stress response, and tune into your relaxed, open, creative and resourceful self – the self that’s much better at getting those external resources you were worried about in the first place!

  11. Nice post :) Thank you for your openness, it resonates with that little stingy bit in all of us.

    You reminded me that I was so busy saving a recent windfall for a rainy day that I forgot to give any of it away. I’ll take care of that right now…gotta love school libraries with wishlists on Amazon. Sooo much fun to stock their shelves!

    And a little sidenote to what you mentioned in “Being a Genius”. You said you looked internally for the source of success, but externally for the problem source, and that “…this is pretty much how it works for most people in these situations.”

    That is pretty much how it works, but I just read some research that says only for most men. For most women, it’s the opposite…failures come from within, successes are “luck” or other external sources. An older study, I wonder if it’s still as true?

    (PDF) http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwaow/resources/ip_high_achieving_women.pdf Page 2, para 4, refers to study by Deaux

    Thanks again,
    Crystal

  12. @Crystal: Thanks for the interesting link on women and imposter syndrome. This stuff and Chris’ sense of the external location of his problems and the internal location of his successes can perhaps be linked to Martin Seligman’s ideas about Optimism and Pessimism.

    He says that Optimists tend to interpret their problems as transient, controllable and specific to one situation – usually because they locate the problem internally (ie. the source of the problem is something we can control – our own thoughts/ feelings or behaviour). He says Pessimists, in contrast, see their problems as lasting forever, undermining or impacting all areas of their lives, and being uncontrollable (ie. external factors that are outside of their control). Perhaps you were just having an unusual pessimist moment, Chris ;)

    Of course, some people would say that neither story is true – they’re both just stories we’re telling ourselves, and we can choose to tell ourselves more useful stories that get us the feelings and results we want.

  13. I just read your post in astonishment, as I have been thinking about my own theory of pie all morning! I know some folks who live with the perspective that everyone was born with a bigger piece of pie than they were. And they spend their lives trying to get free pie, a piece of someone else’s pie, disdaining folks who have pie- even if those folks made their own pie! Folks who think the world is pie-unfair have forks for eyes and empty plates for hearts. The happiest people I know are the ones who figured out that no matter what the ingredients at hand are, you can make your own pie. And what joy there is in making pie. Sometimes its pretty humble- but the powerful thing is getting the creative energy of the universe flowing through you and making pie. You know the saying “give a man a fish and you feed him for a day?” Well, I’d like to add, “Teach someone to make pie and you do much to contribute to happiness, harmony and peace on earth.”
    Now, with the idea of expanding the pie- more pie for all- that makes it all the more delicious!

  14. You know how after you hit the send button sometimes, you start to feel a little anxious, humble pie kind of feeling? (Well, maybe it’s just me.) But I hope I didn’t sound too harsh or judgemental- the forks for eyes thing- well, it’s kind of scary. I mostly wanted to celebrate the joy of creativity and contribution. I want to teach that to my kids. I used to love making mud pies! I only now realize how important an activity that was.

  15. I like the vulnerability of this post. In my experience, when I make myself vulnerable, the answers come. When I rely too much on any institution, whether it be my employer at the time, financial entities or the government, I find myself getting pretty lost. When I realize that my support doesn’t come from these institutions but from God (and by God I mean the collective conscious, the universe, people I love, etc) my life seems to get back in balance.

  16. Why don’t you become a travel writer or blogger for a large newspaper, magazine or web site? You know how to write and you love to travel. Why not combine those two passions?

  17. “The opposite of scarcity is ABUNDANCE.”

    I’ve been thinking about this (because I’m in much the same state of mind as you at the moment) and I think maybe the opposite of scarcity is UNLIMITED.

    Scarcity or abundant and slices of pie all imply a measurable quantity. No matter how big you make the pie it is still finite.

    I love Ingrid’s comment on making your own pie. Just imagine, an unlimited supply of ingredients which we can use to make our pie.

    As an example, think of love. We never think of love as being scarce or abundant. It’s just there. We can give as much love as we want and we still have more to give.

    Thanks Chris and all who commented. You’ve given me a lot to think about.
    Richard

  18. Your post was very poignant, very honest, and very relevant. You mention four things that are troubling you. And I think that some of those things have different answers from one another:

    “Increased concern over inconsequential things.”

    This sounds to me like an inability to prioritize due to stress. I often feel like this when I’m under pressure and feel that parts of my life are out of my control. I want to regain control, but don’t prioritize, so I try to control the minutia or things that should be below my radar. The solution is to put the focus on the big important things.

    “A failure to think about expanding the pie.”

    I understand the scarcity versus abundance mindset and agree with the importance of holding the latter. I also realize that it’s much easier to have an abundance mindset in a time of abundance. When jobs really are scarce, it’s easier to take the fear-based, dog-eat-dog, mine and not yours view of the world.

    But the tools you use in a time of general economic contraction and real scarcity are different than the ones you use during the “good times.” For example, with the right attitude, being frugal and living simply can feel abundant. Avoiding media becomes more important. Priority decisions can be made more easily (see the previous). And you become better at “predictive lifestyle arbitrage” or determining how much you need to save for the next rainy day (or monsoon season) — a reminder that I certainly needed.

    “Declining percentage of money I give to charity.”

    Calculate your previous contribution as a percent value of net income and give the same percent based on current net income. Or just give an equivalent in time. Usually, as people have less money they end up with more time. And whatever you do don’t feel guilty about it.

    “Jealousy over the success of others.”

    This is a condition that can be exacerbated by a scarcity mindset, but may not stem from it. When you see people entirely as individual entities on personal roads, it’s easy to become overly conscious of differences. However, when you see people as a network, part of a connected whole, it’s much easier to celebrate others’ accomplishments. Each former colleague that gets a job is another opportunity for them to discover openings and recommend me for one at their new company. Each successful friend lifts me up by association.

  19. I first came across this idea of “abundance” from an American girlfriend about ten years ago. Up till then I’d just treated the world the way it is – sometimes there is scarcity and sometimes not. It is important not to assume abundance where there is none – this is the road that leads to environmental degradation – and is a very American/frontier viewpoint. On the other hand for intellectual/emotional/spiritual resources there is no need to see scarcity usually. Regarding personal success and failure it’s important to see both as the result of personal action and external forces. I don’t see it as very hard to see both in action. Don’t most people blame themselves for failure just as much as they praise themselves for success? Maybe Americans don’t. Sorry, I’m in a real anti-American mood this morning. Your post really sparked this off somehow.

  20. Hi Chris,

    I am going through a lot of the same feelings you are right now. And, so I am in the process of asking myself similar questions.

    Other people have given a lot of great mindset advice, so maybe I can offer an observation.

    It seems to me that when I look at a lot of people who have reached financial success, they have mindset shifts. But they also put lots of systems in place to leverage their time, knowledge, and connections. I read your page where you talk about your Ebay success – it seems like you had a system that you continuously improved upon. Each time you did, you made more money.

    It also seems to me that people who make the pie larger do it by making their own pie. They create a business that is their own unique “flavor.” As an example, look at Naomi from Ittybiz.com – other people teach marketing, but nobody teaches it like her. Talk about flavor! She has created her own pie.

    So, you already have abundance: you have a huge blog and Twitter following, you have amazing ideas, you have knowledge of systems (because you’ve done it before), and you lead an amzing and interesting life. Why not leverage these things and create a Chris-pie that gives you an opportunity to reap financial abundance?

    Initial ideas: consulting, leading telegroups, leading live tours abroad, more infoproducts, leading blog;ging classes, getting more sponsors for your blog, speaking, writing books, getting sponsors to pay for your traveling by promoting it on video, and so on.

    Anyway, those were my thoughts when I read your post. That for all of the abundance you already have, it would be pretty easy to create income from it.

    Thanks for all of your great posts!

    Best, Wendy

  21. I thought this was a really good article; not least because I was mentioned.

    I’m certain that this is a western attitude to take towards things mind. In the west we seem to be hugely susceptible to the theory of “relative deprivation” which is that we feel we could do better and should do better. Whilst it’s more of a Psychological theory related to aggression, if you think of it in it’s core values than as what it is then you realise that people in the West are far more unhappy than elsewhere. I’m sure you’ve noticed on your travels that people in other countries, especially those which a far lower GDP are on the whole far happier.

    I think it has a great deal to do with the way that we approach things, however as humans we do indeed make our own happiness and being able to recognise when you are unhappy is a very important skill. Especially to move when you are unhappy, like yourself.

    Nick

  22. Thanks for sharing these rather personal thoughts Chris, your not alone. The pie is infinite.

    In regards to charity – I’m not able to donate the sums of money I would like so instead since my late teens (I’m now 23) I have given my time and skills to a number of causes.
    Just last week I lent a significant amount of my time to personally raise $10k+ for victims of bushfires in Australia. In the past I’ve helped with public relations campaigns, ran fundraising events and more.
    Rather than being limited by your financial means, instead harness your skills to gather greater sums of money for charity. You could write a guide to working for NGO’s and give profits to a charity. Travel guides, lectures, coaching, whatever. Organize world tours for wealthy CEO’s to experience the world.

    I have a tendency to be a bit of a scrooge when it comes to money. At times I can fuss over the cost or even avoid buying things all together. I do have some money in the bank and could afford most things, but I would rather scrimp and save. Instead of looking at just the cost, look at the value.
    For instance, delicious healthy food may be expensive but it will make you happy and healthy. The cost of books in Australia is quite absurd, but the value they contain is more often than not well worth the cost. My bed cost more than a months wages, but I spend 8 luxuious hours a night there enjoying blissfull sleep and wake up feeling much better.

    Look for the value – if the value is greater than the cost then don’t hesitate.

  23. @Everyone,

    Thanks so much (again) for your insight. You are all as remarkable as usual.

    I thought about clarifying a couple of things based on some of the comments (I’m not really going broke, for example – it’s more the mindset of scarcity that concerns me), but I think for the most part it’s better to let the post stand on it’s own. It seems that the concepts of scarcity and abundance resonate in different ways with different people, and that is to be expected.

    Feel free to add further to the conversation as you’d like. Again, thank you all for reading and sharing your perspectives.

  24. I recently completed a tele-coaching course, “Selling from the Heart” by Matthew Ferry who refers to the part of our mind that is constantly looking our for our survival as the “Drunk Monkey.” He is always there ready to pull you up short with thoughts that are the complete opposite of thoughts of abundance, generosity, openness, etc.

    We learned that you can, indeed, decide how to feel and what to think. When you wake in the morning, you can decide that it’s a wonderful day.

    Tell yourself “I’m alive. I’m well. And, I’m full of energy. Yes!”

    (Whenever anyone asked my dad if he was having a good day or how he was doing, he’d always reply that it was a great day because he woke up!) When you go to bed at night, you can decide that you had a great day, review and acknowledge the reasons why before going to sleep.

    Tell yourself “I’m alive. I’m well. And, now I allow my body to rest.”

    when you feel the Drunk Monkey trying to insinuate himself into your thoughts, stop and consciously ask yourself, “What will I think next?” Then, again “What will I think next?”

    It’s amazing how slowing things down and taking time to really ask yourself what you’re going to think next, how you can manipulate your thoughts and decide how you choose to feel.

    Because, we do *choose* how we feel, what we think, how we act. So, we can *choose* to feel abundance in all aspects of our lives.

    And, it will be so.

  25. A brief comment on what Wendy said about your leading live tours abroad? If you ever ever ever do that, please give some months notice so I can plan (and apply) to go with! :D

    I expect there would have to be an application process to whittle down the horde ;)

    Also, Hi Cath! Thanks for the resource, going to go read on Seligman. As he defines it, I’ve been a Pessimist since birth, but have been moving toward Optimism for the past 8 years or so. Lots of work still left to do, tho. Thanks again!

  26. Thank you for your courageous and honest post. In addition to your concerns discussed (which have been very much on my mind lately), is an overall sense of the difficult, and rather lonely road of creating a life that responds to your values. It seems like on a whole people either find this prospect unrealistic (i.e.- a pie-in-the-sky type of proposition) or not even on the radar screen. I am an attorney by education who is aspiring to live my truth by transitioning into a full-time writer, artist and spiritual healer. I made a conscious decision to avoid litigation (and go into academia instead) precisely because it gave me more time and flexibility to get other ventures going. I happen to teach at the online division of a local university. I do not get exactly get much sympathy from my former colleagues when my commute consists out of rolling out of bed into my home office, but I desire support and dialogue to keep me going on a path that many cannot imagine (and that I myself am creating as I go along). Hence the sense of loneliness and frustration.

    The answer for me when I start to wondering what in the heck I am doing is the good old fashioned gratitude list. When I think about how I am able to start my work day with meditation and burning incense in my office, I make a mental note that it was because of the decisions I made that I can begin my day like I do. Just like the times when you found yourself sipping champagne in first class or witnessing a spontaneous celebration in Macedonia in the wee hours of the morning, you were able to witness such moments because of the conscious decisions you made. So, be grateful that you are awake (not to imply that you aren’t or haven’t been) and are willing and able to do something with your waking hours that speak to who you are and why you are here. It is not an easy path, and boy do we all wish there was some giant Life Instruction Manual in the sky to let us know what steps to take next and what to do in the interim. But as Albert Einstein says, “No problem can ever be solved at the level of consciousness that created it.” So I can safely say for those folks (and myself) who are even nominally attracted to your website that they are interested in being part of the solution and it will all work out- it has to.

  27. Great post Chris, I want to commend you for being so honest. Too many people try to perpetuate the myth and never open up to their readers like you have here.

    In my opinion, you are just experiencing some of the low points that are bound to come after a high. When we are on top of THE world or even OUR world…we tend to forget that what goes up must come down. I think this is a case of that. I’m sure you’ll rebound just fine.

    In terms of scarcity, I always try to go back to the basics to reset my mind to a place where I’m more focused on desire and passion than making or losing money. Sometimes we get off of our path and have to get back on…which means remembering why we do what we do.

  28. Chris, thanks for your honesty and sharing this. Like other people who have commented, I’ve been going through something similar, but hadn’t thought of it in terms of making the pie bigger or abundance. This post was useful in helping put a framework around my recent experiences.

    I felt like my pie had been shrinking (as was my piece of that shrinking pie) in terms of professional projects and subject areas. But in the last few weeks I’ve been talking to NGOs active in Central and South America (the next part of our journey), have set up interviews with interesting people for short pieces (that don’t pay much monetarily, but I feel like the payment is in I’m expanding my mind) and have just been feeling like I need to give more of myself in order to open myself up to new people, communities and opportunities. I don’t know what will come from all this, but I like this recent feeling that I’m moving forward and learning again.

  29. I can relate to these feelings — I think most of us can at times. For me, the most helpful approach was to be more conscious of my *reactions*. We may not be able to control external factors all the time, but we can always control whether we respond with stress or curiosity, worry or motivation to move forward.

    You’re probably well on your way to this reaction-altering, since you’re clearly very aware… now that you’ve acknowledged these feelings, you can work to notice them every time they appear and muse on what reactions would be more appropriate to cultivate.

    Easier said than done, but I don’t think you need the easy way out anyway :-D!

  30. This post really hit home, as did your tweet on the subject. The problem is, I’m right smack dab in the middle of it, and I’m having a hard time seeing my way through to the other side. I’m really grateful that you posted this – it has gotten me to take a step back and look at where I’m at now, in the present. I don’t have answers, but now I have good questions – which were also eluding me in my sense of general agitation. Thank you for the stimulating post – definitely has me thinking.

  31. A lot of scarcity-thinking can be absorbed unwittingly from our environment – in particular: ADVERTISING.

    In western cultures we are bombarded with marketing messages designed specifically to create a sense of need that we might not otherwise have. Enough exposure to clever and subtle advertising messages can have us desiring things that we were previously getting along nicely without … or feeling that we aren’t getting enough of the pie. Companies wouldn’t spend fortunes on advertising if it didn’t have an effect.

    You may be thinking “but I’m intelligent, I can resist marketing”, or “I don’t pay any attention to the ads”. That’s what I once thought.

    Then when I stopped reading computer magazines years ago, I noticed that my desire to acquire new gadgets strangely diminished. For various reasons I also stopped looking at junk mail, and changed my TV viewing to non-commercial channels. If I do watch anything on commercial TV, I record it and fast forward through the ads. A change in work circumstances also led to fewer visits to shopping centres.

    The result of me being exposed to less advertising was a reduced desire to buy new stuff. I’m now more content with what I’ve got, now that I see and hear fewer messages telling me what I haven’t got. Even though I was too disciplined and non-gullible to actually give in to advertising (well, not very much), it still affected the way I see things!

    I’m not suggesting that avoiding advertising can fix the problem, just that it may fuel the problem more than we think.

  32. A bit like all the people imagining and being drawn to the same mountain in the movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, it seems that many of us can empathise with what you’re feeling now!

    It’s the Fear Epidemic. I wrote about it recently and you can read it here.

  33. I was wrestling with not having enough time for startup work, while still doing a great job at a full time job, and being fully invested and in the moment with my wife and children. I have had a site I have been trying to finish for months that I haven’t been able to find enough time to finish. So I was challenged to pray about what it would look like if I acted like I had enough time. For me I pray to the creator God(Jesus) rather than some amorphous abundance in the universe. Then it hit me after a day of pondering, I can hire someone to do it. I don’t have to do it. Boom, pie expanded. Someone else can get some work, I don’t have to feel like I need to scrimp and save and struggle. I can trust and surrender.

    I also really connected with your questioning your wife’s spending too. My wife and I have been struggling through that for a while. Not because we are in financial trouble of any kind, but because I am keeper. I am a hoarder. That leads me to a second revelation that God had been working in my life which is to give monetary help to family that I know. No better way to affirm that I have enough that to give away what I have been given.

    Finally, I offered my time which I supposedly don’t have enough off to a friend. I would help set up a website and get him moving on a blog.

    Needless, to say it was a great day. A freeing day. An inspiring day. A day were the pie expanded.

    -Frank
    The Happy Rock

  34. Scarcity thinking, fear, limitations…been there myself many times. What works for me is getting my finances to where there’s some “breathing room” (though not financially independent, by any means). Now that I’ve got some to share, I do, and it adds so much to my life, not just to give to charity, but in my “offline world,” to have friends over for dinner, help out at my kids’ school, buying groceries for someone going through really tough times. Being generous in these small ways while pursuing my dreams seems to be a good recipe for happiness, and keeps that word “scarcity” out of my mind most of the time.

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  36. Ingrid expressed something in the following statement that is a great way of explaining how I feel about expanding the pie:

    “I know some folks who live with the perspective that everyone was born
    with a bigger piece of pie than they were. And they spend their lives trying
    to get free pie, a piece of someone else’s pie, disdaining folks who have pie-
    even if those folks made their own pie! Folks who think the world is pie-unfair
    have forks for eyes and empty plates for hearts.”

    How do you know who is truly deserving of efforts to expand the pie and who is simply taking advantage? If ever there was a place in this world to FAIRLY get a piece of the pie, expanded or otherwise, the US is it! But, I feel like these opportunities are SO, SO taken advantage of and it makes me angry and hesitant to want to contribute! These people who take advantage only hurt those that are truly in need and as long as we continue to stand by and watch it happen (and in some cases even support it) we are as much to blame as anyone! Until this country can get out of it’s championing of “the world owes me something” attitude of so many of it’s people (some citizens and some, amazingly not), I don’t think I can care too much about helping to expand the pie! Maybe this isn’t the kind of positive post people are looking to read on here but I bet I am not the only one who is frustrated by this mentality and feels this way right now! Oh well, I guess it doesn’t really matter at this point because the pie just got expanded by 800 billion dollars and nobody bothered to ask us. That’s a mighty big expansion of the pie!

  37. February 17, 2009

    michael j. smith

    chris….i am a 64 year old retired man living in the nc mtns…..it was a long road here with a lot of rough patches, mostly self made. i was broke at 50, living on my sailboat and starting over from scratch….i did every menial job in the book and some that i invented. i definetly was on the wrong side of the white tablcloth. i envied everybody with anything going for them and at times felt hopeless and invited the possibility that i might die alone and destitute in that marina…which i called, “the marina of lost souls”. through some skill and a lot of luck, i dug myself out of that pit and am now while not wealthy, independent and in fine health. i travel the world at will and pretty much have everything that i want, including a great “sweetie”.
    you have so much going for you and are nowhere near destitute or hopeless. keep taking steps toward your dreams and goals and the universe will meet you more than half way. you are 10 times more involved and concerned with helping people than i ever was or will be and it happened for me. keep up the great site.
    question..does the new ninja guide cover the material in your first book or are they separate in content?
    all the best…michael in the nc mtns.

  38. Hi Chris, thanks for this post. I’m really enjoying reading your blog.

    I know exactly what you mean when you say you have found yourself begrudging others’ success, rather than being happy for them. I find myself doing that when I’m not happy with what I am doing in my life. It’s almost like a guide to whether you’re on the right path or not. It is easy to celebrate the success of others when you are fulfilled and working towards success of your own, even if that’s still a long way off. For some reason, just ‘being on the right path’, even if it’s early steps, means that I feel much more generous and gregarious towards others.

    On the flip side, when you start to resent others’ success, it’s a sign that you are not satisfied with your own life, that something has gone awry, and that things need to be reevaluated. Maybe what was working earlier is not any more, or perhaps complacency has sunk in, or focus lost. Whatever it is, the little sting of jealousy can be a useful tool to wake us up!

    I do agree that we can change our mindset and our thoughts – but perhaps our circumstances and feelings about our own lives also impact on the thoughts we have towards others. So it is not always a matter of changing the thoughts alone, but of finding the circumstances behind the thoughts and changing that.

  39. Thoughtful post. I was just reading an essay on creating wealth. Salesmen, writers, inventors all create wealth. The World Wide Web was a gift that has made millions rich. EBay provides full and part time incomes for thousands. Keep writing and you may be the next Napoleon Hill that stimulates millions for years.

    If you just measure your success in money you may be disappointed. You created 50,000 free miles of flying for many people. How long would someone have to save to accomplish that? You shared it with others and they created wealth from your ideas. I’m proud of you.

    You are doing what you want to do. That is awesome. Teachers don’t teach for the money. Writers don’t always have the number one best seller, but they influence thousands and often change the world.

    The news media is telling us things are bad and getting worst. For some who hang on to the Poor Dad thinking that a job is all there is, it is true. For the entrepreneurs that think like the Rich Dad they are saying, I refuse to participate in this so called recession and are making more money than ever.

    Giving or tithing is a multiplier not a subtracter. Promises of God are awesome in Malachi3:10 If you don’t believe in the Bible then try the law of attraction or Zig Ziggler, “help enough people get what they want and you will get what you want.”

    I have paid tithing to my church for over forty years when the math said I didn’t have enough to pay the bills, but the money was always there.

    I have gone on long enough. Thanks again for the thought provoking post. Also thanks to all who make comments. This is a great group for this old man to be a part of.

  40. Jennifer,

    I hear you. We need more freeloaders to get the entrepreneurial attitude instead of the two chickens in every pot and I’ll vote for you. Take it away from the evil rich boss who pays me for eight hours when I only work 3 of them and goof of the rest of the time.

    Wyman

  41. I appreciate this insight, but I offer a different perspective – I guess. If you write ebooks empowering people to pretty much do the same thing you are doing to earn income, are you really expanding the pie? I see it more as handing out cheap surfboards so that more people can ride the wave. Of course the wave can get over crowded and surfers will start crashing over eachother. Also the wave crashes when it reaches shore. Of course you can paddle out and catch the next one if you have the will.

    The purest way to expand the pie, in my mind anyway, is to literally expand resources and products to a wider spectrum of people. Suppose the world found ways of producing food, housing, clothing, healthcare, and efficient travel for approximatley 1% of the current cost. The effect should be LOT more people throughout the world could enjoy more and better food, housing, clothing, healthcare and travel. This is what I consider truly expanding the pie. Of course the effect could be that the same number of people just get have more and better – which would be dissapointing (wait isn’t that exactly what has happened so far?).

    So, more total pie equals more pie for more people or bigger pieces of pie for the same number of people or bigger pieces of pie for some people but still moderately more pie for more people. Or something like that.

  42. I having found this site a few weeks back I was really excited about it. I read all the January articles, The How to Take Over the World Manifesto and the feedback from comments. And I got started on many of the ideas that I wanted to do. It was great.

    Then life didn’t go so great. I found myself getting sick, missing out on commitments that I had stressed over for weeks, and generally feeling helpless. I stopped checking this site. Stopped engaging. I checked the RSS feed and noticed the Expanding the Pie title. I dismissed it thinking it didn’t relate to me. Mostly because I didn’t really take the time to think about it.

    Then today curiosity found me wandering over here again. I related to these views. Strongly so. Views of strangers, of people drawn to similar ideas, but along different paths. I found the comments not only helpful, but reassuring.

    A reminder that Our reactions are choices.

  43. Thank you for this. Writing this entry reminded me how trapped I’ve been in a mindset of scarcity.

    J xx

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  45. I know you wrote this post a while ago. But I liked in your Twitter stream, the person who wrote to consciously dwell on scarcity for awhile. This is a concept put forth by Viktor Frankl, a late Holocaust survivor and Psychotherapist. If you haven’t, read his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. If that guy can be grateful in a concentration camp, then we can certainly find abundance even during a recession.

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  48. Hey Chris,

    I found this post through Karol’s blog, and I’m so glad I did. This is one of my favorite posts of yours. The paragraph about what you want is inspiring and enlightening. I’m grateful for what you share with your readers (including me) so often. Thanks, Chris.

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