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Many people are missing a MASSIVE key when it comes to truly living an abundant life. A few months ago, I discovered the “Confronting Normal” podcast. If you’re a person of faith and you’re hungry for some challenge along your faith walk as well as to hear unique perspectives on various issues facing the world, you might want to check it out.

The episode I listened to the other day pointed out a glaring hole in a previous post, where I talk about what an abundant life looks like. I missed a major piece. Here it is:

If you’re serious about living an abundant life, you must look outside yourself.

In other words, you can’t be self-centered and be living in abundance.

Sure, you might be financially independent and experiencing great health and doing fulfilling work every day. You may feel happy most of the time.

Notice the focus there. You, you, you.

But we’re not here just to love ourselves. Jesus told us, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Who is your neighbor? The person in need who is within your reach to help.

Real love reaches out. Real love sacrifices. And a wise person realizes that those sacrifices ultimately become a gift to oneself. Because in giving of oneself, one grows spiritually richer. And like the Grinch, the heart expands and can love even more.

If you live only for yourself, you live a lonely life. If you refuse to see the need around you, your heart stays small.

And no matter how good your life looks on the outside, you will be cheating yourself out of a truly abundant life. Because a major part of abundance is your internal condition, and it will stay shriveled up and cold as long as you isolate yourself from the people who need your time, talents, and treasure.

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel like I’m living an abundant life when I’m physically unwell. Whether it’s fatigue, a headache, clogged sinuses, or a strained muscle, I have a harder time being optimistic, productive, and encouraging when something in my body is out of balance.

While nobody has perfect health, experts in the field now believe that the state of one’s health largely depends on one’s choices, as opposed to one’s genetics. This includes everything from cancer and heart disease, to most autoimmune diseases, to frequent viral infections.

In other words, for the most part, you control how well you feel. When it comes down to it, living an abundant life is all about having the right mindset and making the right choices.

Many changes you could make regarding care for your body require some time before they bear fruit in your life. For example, if you’re overweight and haven’t been exercising, if you start exercising today you won’t lose a significant amount of weight for at least a couple of weeks.

However, there are other changes that could help you have more energy and feel better within mere minutes to a few hours. I’d like to offer five actions you could take in order to start feeling, today, that you’re living a more abundant life in the physical realm.

Action number one: Lie down for fifteen minutes and rest your eyes.

It can be on your bed or your couch. You can take a nap, or you can listen to music or catch up with your favorite podcast. Most people these days number one, don’t get enough sleep; and number two, spend hours a day staring at a computer screen, or reading documents or books, or both. When you do “close” work like this for hours on end, your eyes experience some level of strain, even if you don’t notice it. This strain creates a low level of stress both physiologically and emotionally. And stress is one of the biggest factors leading to illness and disease.

So today, preferably mid-afternoon, lie down for fifteen minutes and rest your eyes. When you get up, you will feel at least a little more energetic, a little less stressed, and a little more capable of facing the rest of the day. At least. You may even feel happier, which will do wonders in help you to feel you’re living a more abundant life.

Action number two: Smile at least three times when you don’t feel like it.

I don’t mean that you should smile at inappropriate times, like when someone’s just told you that a loved one died. I mean, smile at your children and say a cheery, “Good morning,” even if one of them kept you up last night. When you go into work, smile at your co-workers when you greet them, even if you all are sharing dread at the upcoming meeting this morning.

Even a forced smile improves your mood. My challenge is three smiles, but you don’t have to limit yourself to that! However, even a mere three smiles that you wouldn’t otherwise have pushed onto your face will make you feel better, at least emotionally, perhaps even physically.

Action number three: Cut out either starches or meat from one of your main meals.

Most people eat at least one main meal a day consisting of meat and a starch, whether it be bread, rice, or potatoes. Health experts aren’t sure why, but for many people this combination causes some level of digestive distress. For some people, like me, it causes a high level of digestive distress, leading to a lot of abdominal discomfort, bloating, and gas leaving out both ends.

So today, for at least one meal, cut out either the meat or the starch when you were planning on eating both. See how you feel afterward. There’s a good chance you’ll have more energy and no indigestion. If you have suffered from chronic indigestion and gas after meals, you will definitely feel like you jumped up several levels in achieving a more abundant life!

Action number four: Take a magnesium supplement right before bed.

Magnesium is essential for over 300 biochemical reactions at the cellular level, and most Westerners are deficient in the mineral at some level. Such a deficiency causes everything from restless legs and sleep difficulties, to severe depression and panic attacks. Click here for a more comprehensive list of magnesium deficiency symptoms.

I recommend two types of magnesium, because other types can cause either a laxative effect or constipation, especially at therapeutic doses. The following two types don’t. The first is easily available at any health food store, at online stores, and even at high-end supermarkets: chelated (KEE-lated) magnesium. It’s a powder that comes in capsules.

The second is angstrom magnesium, which is a liquid form. I’ve only been able to find this type online (I purchase the Mother Earth brand from Amazon).

Take either two capsules of the chelated, or one-half teaspoon of the angstrom, within an hour of going to bed. If you normally have trouble sleeping, you should sleep better tonight. If you normally have restless legs after lying down, the sensation will either decrease or disappear altogether (it may take several days of taking the supplement for that to happen if your restless legs are severe).

You will feel better in the morning, and that will make you happier.

Check out my free e-book, The Cure For Mental Illness? for a thorough treatise on how to naturally alleviate the symptoms of mental illness, including P.M.S. It contains a more comprehensive discussion on why and how to use magnesium.

Action number five: Make safety your number one goal.

So many of our bodily aches and pains come from ignoring common sense safety rules. Even a paper cut on a finger can cause enough distress for a long enough time to make you feel like life isn’t any fun.

Therefore, today, be fully alert when you drive, and don’t make any moves even close to reckless. If you’re not sure you can lift a heavy object by yourself, ask for help before even trying. Handle glass with care. Don’t rant and rave while waving a pencil or fork around in front of your face.

The list could go on for miles, but you get my drift. Following basic safety rules makes you healthier. And good health is a major part of an abundant life.

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In my book, Simple Diet, Beautiful You, I focus on one of the biggest lifestyle factors that affect your health: diet and nutrition. If you know you’re not eating as healthy as you should, and you want to get better in that area, my book will definitely help you. Apply the five ideas above, as well as the principles in the book (click here to check it out), and you will feel like you’re living the abundant life!

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Why The Most Abundant Life Is A Simple Life

What if I told you that a journey toward a simple life is the best way to walk into a truly abundant life?

That smacks against what most people think of when they hear the phrase, “abundant life.” Doesn’t abundance imply wealth, having the biggest house you want, having all the things you want?

On the other hand, a simple life must resemble what  Thoreau wrote about it in his classic book, Walden: living in a small shack with barely any furniture, and subsisting mostly on food you grow yourself – namely, corn, beans, and squash.

Abundance isn’t about material wealth

Living an abundant life may include an excessive amount of money, which provides the ability to purchase a lot of things. However, on the financial side of things, you don’t need millions in order to live an abundant life. You simply need enough to pay all the bills, plus extra for fun and for investing. This brings you closer to the simple life.

Besides, owning material goods just for the sake of owning them actually impedes your ability to live a life of abundance.

How?

It drags you down emotionally.

In other words, at some point ownership reduces, rather than facilitates or increases, happiness. In their classic book on personal finance, Your Money Or Your Life, Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez refer to this as “The Fulfillment Curve.” Once a person has everything they need, and a few luxury items – things they really want but could live without – anything else they buy after this point makes a person feel less fulfilled in the material realm, rather than more.

Why?

The more things you own, the more stress you have

The more things you own, the more space you need for storing them. So you need a bigger dwelling, which leads to more work and expenses down the road. And the simple life begins to elude you.

The things themselves require maintenance – regular dusting, if nothing else – and there is always the fear that your more expensive things might be stolen.

More things leads to more work and more worry, which leads to less happiness and freedom.

When you don’t feel free psychologically and emotionally, your life is not abundant.

Thus, the simple life is a more abundant one.

CLICK HERE to check out my reader-acclaimed book on simple living!

But this principle extends well beyond the arena of material wealth.

Simplicity everywhere

Eating simply leads to a healthier life. And the healthier you are, the more simple life becomes because you are sick less often. Therefore, you don’t have to spend time and money on making yourself well nearly as often. This will make your life more abundant.

Simplify your relationships by cutting toxic people out of your life and pursuing close relationships only with those to whom you truly feel connected. Nurture these relationships. The more you do, the more abundant your life will feel.

A simple life consists of systems and good habits that help your everyday life run like a well-oiled machine. It consists of activities that are important to you and don’t cause you undue amounts of stress. It has plenty of leisure time because you’re not volunteering out of guilt, dealing with negative people, or having to put in a lot of time and energy cleaning and maintaining an excessive amount of things.

Having more leisure time more often than not leads to the feeling of greater abundance.

The most important connection between the abundant life and a simple life

A truly simple life is one of purpose and calling. When you have a strong sense of what you are called to do, you automatically cut out the fluff. You easily say “no” to opportunities that don’t fit into your calling, serving as distractions and time-wasters instead. You can organize your life more easily, because you are more focused.

And when you are working on walking out your calling, you can’t help but feel fulfilled. You will recognize that you are, indeed, living an abundant life.

All because you endeavored to live a simple life.

Simplicity + abundance = an extraordinary life of joy and freedom.

Need or want some guidance on living a more simple life? Click here to check out my reader-acclaimed book, Crazy Simple: 307 Ways To Save Money, Your Health, And The Planet.

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Finding Abundance Amidst The Storm Of Grief

When it comes to working toward living a more abundant life, there is a massive obstacle. And that is that ninety percent of what happens in your life is beyond your control.

That thought alone is enough to make most people throw up their hands and give up. After all, what good is putting all your energy and focus into ten percent of your life?

How about the fact that the ten percent is the difference between living a vibrant, fulfilled life, and one that is filled with struggle and misery?

Yet, even the most diligent and visionary people encounter challenges that threaten to suppress their potential and tempt them into making compromises that will ultimately keep them from all the abundance that they want. Today I want to specifically address the challenge called grief. Why?

My mother’s second husband died on Christmas Eve morning this year.

If you read this post, you’ve probably widened your eyes and groaned in sympathy for my family (thank you, if you have). You might even wonder if God is trying to tell somebody in my family something. I believe so, and I know who and what, but that’s none of your business.

Your business right now is to understand that if you have not yet experienced the death of a loved one (I include close friends in that phrase), your day is coming. And when you do, it will cause an internal upheaval that could shut down your desire to achieve your goals and dreams.

It will cause you to grieve.

It will be especially tumultuous if the death is completely unexpected, leaving you with agonizing questions that can’t be answered. It will be even worse if you have no relationship with your Creator (essential to a truly abundant life, as I describe in this post).

If you have experienced the death of a loved one, you know what I’m talking about. In fact, you in fact may have given up on moving toward an abundant life and are reading this post to find hope and motivation to get back on track.

I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but following are some ideas I have about finding abundance even in the midst of grief.

Idea #1: Believe the best.

Believe the best about person you are grieving. An atheist would have to be satisfied with the fact that the person is no longer suffering, and/or will no longer have to endure the trials and stresses of life.

If you believe in an afterlife, believe that where your loved one is now is a much better place than Earth. For some, this belief comes easily. For others, not so much.

For the last thousand years – maybe even fewer – Christians have been taught that there is such a thing as an eternal hell, and that everybody who doesn’t consciously accept Jesus as their Savior while they are alive will burn for all of eternity. What if I told you that the early Church didn’t believe that? What if I told you that faith-practicing Jews don’t believe that?

What if I told you that this belief has been perpetrated by mistranslated and misinterpreted verses in the Bible, and that there is actually more evidence for Universalism (all eventually making it to heaven) in the Bible than not?

I – and many others throughout Church history  – could be wrong. But if you believe in the Bible, recall the verse where it says that God looks on the heart, and He is the only judge. Who are you to condemn someone to an eternal hell, just because you don’t know that they ever committed their life to Christ? How do you know God doesn’t give people a chance to do so once they pass over to the other side?

Believe the best about where your loved one is now.

Idea #2: Let yourself – and give yourself time to – grieve.

When my stepdad passed on, my mom reminisced about my dad and grandmother passing fourteen years earlier. She told me that she never really gave herself time to grieve those two deaths, and that if she could do it over again she would have taken two weeks off from work instead of going back into work almost immediately after my grandma’s funeral.

Because she didn’t give herself enough time to grieve those two losses, she broke down at the funeral of a friend of her second husband a year later. She sobbed hysterically as though this man had been her best friend or father, when in actuality he had been barely an acquaintance to her. A song sung at the ceremony took her back to my dad’s funeral, and the long-suppressed grief forced its way out.

 She couldn’t believe the pain of the losses was still so strong a year later, but it was the result of never having given herself time to grieve.

The grieving process is also a healing process, and to live an abundant life you need to heal from any and every emotional wound that afflicts you. So give yourself both permission and time to do so.

Idea #3: Know that the one your grieve wants you to move on.

If you believe in life after death, chances are good you believe in a perfect place full of happiness, peace, and joy, where everyone is made whole in every aspect of their being. And anyone who is completely whole and healthy emotionally and psychologically wishes everyone else could achieve that state. They wish everyone could be eternally happy.

So, while grieving is a necessary process, as you grieve keep in mind that the one you grieve doesn’t want you to grieve for very long. They certainly don’t want you to wallow in misery and despair. Rather, they want you to move forward with your life – a more abundant life than the one you are currently living.

Even though you may feel anything but fulfilled and joyful in the middle of your grief, knowing that your loved one hopes the best for you can help feel more blessed than circumstances seem to dictate.

Idea #4: Surround yourself with other people.

After losing a loved one, you will probably have several people approach you and tell you that you can call and talk to them anytime as you grieve.

Take them up on it.

Isolating yourself at a time like this is the worst thing you can do, and may lead to depression. There are times when it’s healthy to lock yourself in your bedroom and cry. But those times are few and far between.

Most days, make time to reach out to a friend or close family member who is willing to walk along side you during the grieving process. It might look like a phone call where you spend most of the time weeping while your friend prays for you. It might look like going to see a romantic comedy movie with a relative and laughing together.

Stay connected to people when you’re struggling, and your life will automatically feel more abundant.

Idea #5: Help others.

Once you’ve intentionally surrounded yourself with community, take a step up and begin to help others. When you help others in need, you gain a new perspective on your own problems. You also find fulfillment and joy when you serve.

The caveat here is: Don’t do it as a means to ignore your pain. In fact, if you have even the slightest sense that such is your motive for getting busy, step back down and seek deeper support from your friends and family. Get more help for your own healing, and only get back to helping others when you are doing it because the giving of yourself brings joy and inner freedom, not because it covers up your pain.

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Feeling that you’re living a life of abundance is difficult during times of grief. But it’s not impossible. Try at least two of the above ideas, and I believe you will find the abundant life even in the midst of a storm.

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