When I was young, my grandfather, “Zeyda,” used to take his eight grandchildren to IHOP almost every Sunday. We somehow smushed into his car (probably all sitting on top of one another as you could only do in the ‘70s and early ‘80s). At IHOP, we would all oooh and ahhh at the numerous syrups that were available—all laid out at the edge of the table in a row. How cool to have so many different types of syrup. So many choices just there for the taking.
I’m pretty sure we all still selected boring old maple every single time, with the occasional rebel trying a different flavor and making faces to show how strange it tasted. But we loved that the option was there, even if we never wanted to really diverge from the old standard. It made an already special tradition feel even more festive and fun.
I read the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn a long time ago, but I will always remember how, despite the family’s poverty, the mom always had coffee brewing. They were lacking in pretty much everything else, but they could have coffee whenever they wanted it. It was bottomless. The mom realized the need for abundance, and she was able to make it happen in a way that worked within their budget.
When our kids were little, I observed my sister-in-law Joanna go to the library with her kids and return home with bags and bags and bags of books. There was no limit, everyone could take out as many books as they wanted. I have since copied this ritual. I always take out a pile of books and only end up reading a handful. But I love thumbing through the options, taking time to select my favorites, starting one book, putting it down, and then starting another until I land on the perfect book.
When my grandmother, Mom Mom, hosted a holiday meal, the abundance of food was ridiculous. The table was covered with delicious options. We would smell the delights coming from her apartment the minute we exited the elevator on the fourth floor. Cooking and serving food were her love languages. We were never told no. Trying new things was encouraged. Being together and enjoying food that was customary for that particular holiday was the only rule.
I love the feeling of abundance, and it makes me sad that we are often encouraged to limit, to have less, to need less. Eating “too much,” playing “too much,” resting “too much” are often seen by society as overly indulgent. Yet these are often replaced with the much more culturally acceptable forms of “too much”: too much busyness, too many activities, too many goals, too many “shoulds.” What happened to connecting with our senses, our preferences, and our desires?
I think we all need aspects of abundance in our life. How can abundance make us feel cared for, make us feel safe? What abundance do you desire? How can you incorporate it into your life? What voices are telling you that what you want is too much? How can you recognize the harm of these voices, challenge them, and enjoy life’s bounty?
This post was originally published on Amy Alpert’s blog.
Amy Alpert, a graduate of the Certificate in Positive Psychology, is a solutions-focused coach with a practice based in positive psychology. A former human resources executive at Goldman Sachs, she holds a master’s degree in organizational psychology from Columbia University. This article was originally published on Amy’s blog at amyalpert.com.