The Abundance Game

by Christopher Lovejoy on February 4, 2018

What is this game called abundance?
Is it a game worth playing? If so, why?
If it is worthy of play, how is it played?

The Abundance Game is as old as humanity itself, ever since the first human being used opposable thumb and finger to pick up an object ~ a stick or a stone, perhaps, or maybe even a bone.

The mundane definition of abundance is simple enough to grasp ~ a very large quantity ~ but a more meaningful definition can be gleaned from a contemplation of human affairs in daily life, and it goes something like this: a state of human affairs where the good things in life are plentiful.

This definition is serviceable, until you realize that it contains a word that is less than precise.

Can you guess which one?

Like any game in life, abundance requires a context of inquiry and discovery, a foundation of guidelines upon which to build a field of play, an answer to the question “why play at all?”, an ideal outcome, a way to integrate all elements of play, and a set of meaningful applications.

Let us begin at the beginning with this essential question: why play at all?

In other words, why be abundant at all, why seek abundance at all? My apologies from the outset, but it will serve you well to carry the burden of the following questions throughout: what does it mean to me to have abundance? And, more to the point, what does it mean to me to be abundant?

Keep in mind, too, that the so-called “good things in life” include possessions, relationships, encounters, and experiences. At this point, it would also serve you well to bring forward your own unique sense of what is good for you and yours and what feels good to you and yours.

Whatever you do, do not lose sight of this subtle distinction.

The Abundance Challenge of “More or Less”

Take a moment to dwell on the meaning of this question: is more necessarily better or is less more?

Let us go back in our imaginations and ask a cavewoman from prehistoric times: dear one, would you rather have your potter husband make you a dozen mediocre pots (point to a sample) or would you rather have him make you a few sturdy attractive pots (point to a sample)?

You may laugh, thinking the answer to be obvious, but then again, maybe it isn’t so obvious when you see it from her point of view: what if a dozen mediocre pots are just what she needs to feed a large family (after scolding her husband not to spend so much time on his pots)?

The problem with this scenario is that it neglects to include the assumption that our dear cavewoman and her potter husband live in a community of relative abundance. What if the potter husband is but one of a few master potters who make pots for his entire community?

And do so with lots of time on hand and … lots of clay at hand?

Suddenly, the question of more or less ceases to have any relevance around the production of pots for this community. “Quantity or quality?” becomes a matter of “quantity and quality!” If a community is united, why produce anything in abundance that is mediocre in quality?

The answer lies in the resources, that is, in the re-sources: Only one master potter in the community? Only so much time in which to produce the pots? Lots and lots of clay with which to produce lots of pots? Even if a community is united, crappy stuff in abundance seals the deal.

In such a community, would you be willing to settle for mediocre? If so, why? If not, why not?

Your answer might depend on whether you are a budding potter with an eye for quality or it might depend on whether you are an excellent wife and mother who holds sturdy attractive pots in high esteem or it might depend on whether you have a tolerance for broken crappy pots.

The Ultimate Currency of Exchange?

In the 21st century, the human family now carries an abundance of pots the world over, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we have less clay pots overall than ones of the stainless steel variety.

Today, it also seems obvious that money is the ultimate currency of exchange, but is it really? You might want to tell this to the 3.75 billion or so people who made as much money as the top 42 billionaires in 2017 ~ not including those beyond the public eye with influential trillions.

We who live in the affluent countries, East or West, know all too well the desirability of having, if not lots and lots and lots of money, then at least enough to live the good life in relative peace and prosperity even if, for many, what passes for community is an online forum or a newsfeed.

A solar flash whose EMP hit earth would certainly strike at the heart of digital money and these online communities, shaking things up more than a little, and so, what other options for currencies of exchange do we have, beyond the mighty power of money, to save our souls and soothe our restless spirits? As I see it now, we have five options for being economically viable, beyond the almighty lure of money:

  1. possessions – “those who die with the most toys wins”: we have come a long way since these catchy words made sense. Although most things nowadays are donated or disposed, reused or recycled, there are signs of life around giving and sharing, renting and bartering.
  2. pleasures – “I’ll rub your back if you rub mine”: more than ever it seems, people are exchanging their services. If I’m good at giving a good massage and I need something from someone who loves a good massage, then maybe, just maybe, an equitable exchange is possible.
  3. righteousness – “who shall dwell with the everlasting fire? they who dwelleth in love …” Would I rather be right more often than not or would I rather be happy more often than not? Some people enjoy a good righteous rant and are more than willing to give something in exchange.
  4. goodwill giving – “never underestimate the power of goodwill to get what you need or want”: if you can secure and spread the trust of those who prosper like it’s nobody’s business, and do so with unconditional regard for their needs and wants, then what else do you need?
  5. happiness – “for every minute you’re angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness”: for most, genuine happiness offers premium value; what’s not to like about those of us who can give and share the essence of their being with a ready smile and a rich face alive with promise?

Some among us are, in word and deed, happy for no reason, and for that, they invariably attract good things to themselves: like goodwill, like a sweet righteous love, like wholesome pleasures, like useful or pleasing possessions, and yes, even sums of money in the guise of gifts.

Happiness before peace and prosperity? How does this work?

Psychological Wealth First, Material Wealth Second

You have likely heard it said that rich people can sometimes be miserable (and miserly) beyond belief because they have neglected their wealth on the inside in favor of keeping their wealth on the outside.

Do you get my meaning? It’s an important one, one that even less than rich people can take to heart. Unfortunately, I hate to say this, but your psychological wealth is a hugely complex proposition.

Let me see if I can break it down into manageable pieces.

If at any time you feel overwhelmed, pause, breathe, smile.

Best to start from within a eudaimonic context, one that favors happiness as your most basic currency of value and your most basic standard of value. Essentially and ideally, happiness is both source and sum of value and feeling in response to giving positive answers to these four questions in life:

  1. am I learning and growing and evolving personally?
  2. am I connecting with care to my friends and family?
  3. am I serving a cause or community beyond myself?
  4. am I being, consistently, who I know myself to be?

By way of response, keep these points in mind …

Beware any tendency to favor one of these questions over another; do yourself the favor of finding your balance with as many of them as you can so as to evolve and ascend into the best version of yourself; you have your own sense of what friends and family mean to you and don’t ever let anyone tell you differently; the cause or community that you serve or aim to serve is one that you have chosen for yourself, one that is exquisitely attuned to the heart of your soul and harmoniously aligned with your spirit; and may the counsel “be true, be warm, be wise, be free” be the theme of your life at the heart of your soul.

Your Psychological Wealth Grows in the Soils of PERMA

A comprehensive treatment of PERMA is beyond the scope of this post.

What I can say here is this: PERMA is the brainchild of Martin Seligman, the renowned purveyor of positive psychology who consolidated his latest insights on the subject in a book called Flourishing.

The main thrust of his current work is that a good life (there’s that fuzzy word again) is not just about feeling good (there’s that word again) in the attempt to emulate that icon known as the yellow smiley face, it’s more about flourishing ~ realizing more and more of your potential.

A life lived with the intention to flourish, however, isn’t always filled with roses and rainbows, sweetcakes and sunshine. No matter how many times you “turn that frown upside down”, feeling bad happens.

Now, I don’t know about you, but are you sensing a disconnect here? How is it that any one of us can be called upon to flourish when feeling bad (or really, really bad, as the case may be) is a deep, dark reality that no one on this planet can avoid facing (at least not for long)?


Putting aside any deeply conditioned hunger for compromise for a moment, this is the trillion dollar question for humanity. If humanity can answer this probing question, and answer it well, so that everyone (yes, everyone) on the planet gets to flourish without undue pain and suffering, misery and depravity, then humanity is well on its way to realizing its potential as a species in the grand scheme of things.

But I digress. I was supposed to be talking about your psychological wealth.

What I definitely, absolutely know about you (I don’t care who you are or where you live or what you do ~ for all I care you could be the most intelligent, most attractive, most wealthy person in the world) is this: you suffer, you have suffered, and … you will continue to suffer.

No one, absolutely no one, is immune to suffering on this planet. Obviously, suffering is relative; we ourselves suffer more or less than others, and yes, some days are better than others, and so, … (warning: odd question ahead): are you reaping the benefits of your suffering?

I invite you now to toss this question around inside the heart of your soul … now let’s elaborate as follows, going deep and true from a first person perspective: am I reaping the benefits of my suffering?

  • am I reaping the benefits of my suffering? am I standing toe to toe with those who are hellbent heavensent on exposing the roots of needless suffering?
  • am I reaping the benefits of my suffering? am I making adequate time for learning how to harmonize, optimize, and actualize my mind, my self, and my life?
  • am I reaping the benefits of my suffering? am I realizing more and more that a diamond-fisted flexibility of will is hands down my most valuable asset in life?
  • am I reaping the benefits of my suffering? am I coming more and more to the conclusion that this life and this world are hardly ever about me, myself, and I?
  • am I reaping the benefits of my suffering? am I appreciating more and more that the (relatively) happy ones among us are prone to giving themselves away?
  • am I reaping the benefits of my suffering? am I understanding more and more that I am not my feelings and that bypassing them is a recipe for complication?
  • am I reaping the benefits of my suffering? am I now ready to get my hands dirty in the soils of PERMA so that I can ask more of these types of questions?

First, some basic accounting (and not just for the bookkeepers and accountants among us). Please note, too, that I will be interpreting the facets of PERMA in ways that make sense to my experience in life and in ways that might not perfectly match the original formulation.

I will start by saying that I hope you have come to realize that life isn’t just about reaping the benefits of your suffering. God forbid if this were the case. Life is also about enjoining your life with joy (enjoy) right here, right now, and as much as possible, making this your priority.

Allow me to set up the first equation for you: I feel good when I enjoy my life here and now, and … I feel good when I reap the benefits of my suffering, transforming feeling bad into feeling good, and … when I don’t reap the benefits of my suffering, I continue to feel bad.

Here, good or bad are synonymous with subjective, objectively witnessed feelings of accordance or discordance, manifesting (for example) as pleasure or pain, benevolence or malevolence, clarity or confusion, certainty or doubt, love or hate, joy or sorrow, fun or fear, etc.

Equation 1

Positive Affect (Feeling Good) – Negative Affect (Feeling Bad) = Net Worthiness

P is for positivity, and positivity is your net worthiness over a period of time t, and so, a vital ingredient of your psychological wealth is am I gaining and keeping a consistent level of net worthiness?

Why is net worthiness so important? In our brainy guts, we already know the answer.

E is for engagement, and net positive engagements with self, a world, and life occur when net worthiness is tuned and tapped to go and grow with the flow (sorry, I couldn’t resist taking this poetic license).

What does engagement involve exactly? Engagement involves the two most important processes that any self-aware, self-regulating, self-motivating person can follow: satisfying needs and fulfilling desires.

Herewith …

Equation 2

Satisfaction of Need + Fulfillment of Desire = A Growing Sum of Flourishing

For the “spoiled” ones among us, there is a conflation between needing and wanting (hint: wanting is not needing), such that many or even all instances of wanting are demonstrably conveyed as needing.

For example, I need a safe, warm, quiet place to sleep; I do not need (but I do want) a king-sized bed. A need is satisfied when it no longer requires attention. A desire is fulfilled either when (a) the outcome desired is secured, or (b) the outcome desired is becoming secured.

The fulfillment of desire is a categorical umbrella that includes two modes of engagement with life, love, and lust: the relatively active mode of executing a course of action successfully (fulfilling) and the relatively passive mode of celebrating successful completions (fulfillments).

I flourish (realize more and more of my potential) to the extent to which I engage my self, my world, and my life to satisfy my (genuine) needs and fulfill my (authentic) desires to completion by way of execution.

And no, not that form of execution.

Alright, we now have two items of inventory in our baskets of psychological wealth: (1) a net worthiness, and (2) an ever growing sum of flourishing as we realize more and more of our own innate potential.

Now, we could carry this basket around with us all by ourselves (physically or spiritually) for the rest of our lives, but the question here is would we ever want to do this to ourselves? Perhaps for a time, but really, what better way to get to know ourselves more fully than to engage with other souls?

How so?

Through a catalyst that I have heard called inspirational dissatisfaction. A mouthful, yes, but stay with me here. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs assures us all a continuous supply of inspirational dissatisfaction as we move up the pyramid of power towards the Eye of Illumination.

Disclaimer: I am not a member of the Illuminati; in service to all, in service of the One

The Eye of Spirit, the Eye of God, the Eye of Horus, the All-Seeing Eye, the Eye that Sees All and Knows All, is where we want to be, but to get there, we … ahem … unequivocally need the input and feedback of others. We cannot do this alone, especially not here, in this world, at this time.

A quick caveat: yes, develop a meaningful group identity with a strong yet flexible persona, but do not become so identified (i.e., enmeshed or entangled) with your group identity that you lose sight of your presence of mind if or when your group ever loses touch with reality (or goes insane).

And so …

R is for relationships: am I giving enough of my time to having healthy relations?

Truth be told, this innocuous question is far more complex than meets the … eye.

Healthy relations are central to PERMA, literally and figuratively, and they come in many varieties that stagger the imagination: my relationship with me and my relationship with you, my relationship with others like me and my relationship with others unlike me, my relationship with nature and my relationship with cult-ure, my relationship with his story (and her story!) and my relationship with truth and tradition, my relationship with society and my relationship with civilization, my relationship with the cosmos and my relationship with the Absolute Sum and Source of All.

Yes, I know that the intention of the R in PERMA is to focus solely on our relationships with others, but … those relationships can only ever make the most sense in light of this vast panoply of relations.

Fact of the matter is … we need each other.

This simple truth, however, can only blossom beyond need if … we support one another in the cause of making meaning. It’s hard enough that this world and this life are meaning-less (that is to say, without meaning), save the meaning that we tap and trade in tune with others. It’s even harder when we realize that so many among us are living without any significant sense of meaning, and so, M is for meaning.

Are we manifesting a world in tune with a meaningful purpose?

What could be more meaningful to this world at this time than seeking to realize a global harmony from unity through diversity for the sake of peace and prosperity? I will leave it for you to contemplate the implications and ramifications of fulfilling this highly complex proposition.

At least for now.

The final piece of the puzzle that is PERMA follows from the ones that come before it: A is for accomplishment: as a species, are we exceeding our expectations around achievement?

Herewith, for ease of reference, a quick summation …

P is for positivity: am I getting and keeping a consistent level of net worthiness?
E is for engagement: am I going and growing with the flow by engaging with life?
R is for relationships: am I giving enough of my time to having healthy relations?
M is for meaning: are we manifesting a world in tune with a meaningful purpose?
A is for accomplishment: are we exceeding our expectations around achievements?

Where are you strong? What could use a little work right now? ____ (pick a letter). Where are we strong? What could use more than a little work right now? ____ (again, pick yourself another letter).

Are we generally making good on our encounters with PERMA so as to flourish? A negative response to this question does not bode well for any of us in giving a positive response to this question: am I generally making good on my encounters with PERMA so as to flourish?

It’s now time to take a dip into the relatively new world of spiritual economics.

Material Wealth by Way of Spiritual Economics

Eric Butterworth, in his brilliant work Spiritual Economics, effectively and eloquently challenges the status quo around (a) “making lots and lots of money” and (b) “buying lots and lots of things,” enjoining us to cultivate a caring consciousness that circulates wealth in response to need.

In other words, for me, this means drawing on PERMA to make the M and the A real for everyone as a collective priority that trumps making M and A real merely for the sake of one group or one person. As a world, this is where humanity is headed (if, and this is a big if, it can move through the childishness and chaos of “me, me, me” getting mixed up with “us versus them”) with an all-inclusive transpersonality.

But I digress (again). Back to Mr. Butterworth.

A key part of his work is that he extends the meanings of prosperity, affluence, and security in ways that support his thesis of “cultivating a caring, circulating consciousness” (my words).

Prosperity finds it Latin roots in pro spere, which roughly translates as “to go forward with hope.” Here, prosperity is not so much a condition in life as it is an attitude towards life. The measure of a truly prosperous species is one that … “goes and grows with the flow of hope.”

Are we going and growing with the flowing of hope? If not, why not?

Speaking of flow, affluence is typically (albeit stupidly) associated with the accumulation of things (cars, trucks, vans, RVs, SUVs, houses, cottages, furniture, appliances, furnishings, stocks, bonds, and baubles), creating a bias I call “the bias towards doing and having.”

With a widespread bias towards doing and having, having and doing, doing and having, having and doing (have I made my point yet?), the love and joy of being are sacrificial lambs.

Affluence literally means “a flow of abundance”, one that, ideally, inspires and circulates, involving evolving conscious centres that weave net positive threads of creative, productive, constructive activity into tapestries of prosperity that serve to impress and express progressive rivers of hope.

Security is the third thread in a braid that binds it with prosperity and affluence.

Secure is derived from the Latin roots se (without) and cure (care), which literally mean “without care”, which raises a most interesting paradox: how can the flow of abundance be caring if one is without care? In other words, how can I/we possibly be caring without care?

To be without care is to be free of fear and anxiety. Can I care without care when I am free of fear and anxiety? Am I truly at my most creative and productive when I am free of fear and anxiety? Might a little fear and anxiety create enough of a sense of urgency to keep me going?

When I see you suffer, I care, but can I care when I am without care? When you see me suffer, can you care when you are without care? Perhaps these words of wisdom can help us live with these questions to embrace the paradox of caring and contributing without care:

Be like the bird that,
pausing in her flight,
while on boughs too slight,
feels them give way
beneath her, and yet sings,
knowing she hath wings

~ Victor Hugo

The spiritual economic braid that is “prosperity, affluence, security” is eloquently instantiated by the genius of Henry David Thoreau. I have taken the liberty of replacing the prejudicial “one”, “he”, and “his” with a globally inclusive “we”, “us”, and “our”, adjusting text as appropriate.

If we advance confidently
in the direction of our dreams,
and endeavor to live the lives
that we have imagined,
we will meet with a success
unexpected in common hours.
We will put some things behind,
will pass an invisible boundary:
new, universal, and more liberal laws
will begin to establish themselves
around us and within us; or
old laws will be expanded
and interpreted in our favor
in a more liberal sense,
and we will live with the license
of a higher order of beings
(bolded emphases mine)

~ Henry David Thoreau

Are you, like me, realizing a consciousness (and confidence) worthy of a “higher” order of beings?

If not, why not?

Benevolence or Malevolence in a World of Ordo ab Chao or a World of Chao ab Ordo?

Truth be told, human beings are a “higher” order of beings, but it is an order, to put it mythical terms, that has been (a) conditioned mercilessly into a dark compliance by the beast of malevolence, and (b) challenged relentlessly to the absolute limits of coping by the dragon of chaos.

I trust you understand that the dragon of chaos cannot be approached and appeased without approaching and appeasing the beast of malevolence. When I speak of appeasing, I speak of appeasing, not at the surface level of personality, and not even at the deeper level of morality, but at the deepest metaphysical level, where the influences of malevolence and chaos offer deep contrast for benevolence and order.

At the ground of being, in third density consciousness, malevolence and chaos deserve metaphysical respect, even as said malevolence and chaos are retreating and disappearing into a void as fourth density consciousness emerges (although, sadly, this mixed emergence threatens to bring us all down with it).

For those immersed in third density, I ask you this: what kind of world do you want? Do you want a world where psychology takes precedence over technology, or vice versa? Do you want a world where inclusive orders of benevolence prevail over the chaos of malevolence, or vice versa?

For those already immersed in fourth density, I ask you this: have you been finding your way with like-hearted souls through the turbulence of a species in transition that has yet to make up its mind whether to ride the dragon of chaos with malevolence or side with a spontaneous inclusive order of benevolence?

For those observing the transition from a higher perspective, I ask you this: what is your chosen vehicle of reflection and projection for guiding and steering the souls of this world through a troubled and troubling transition from third density to fourth density? Has it been effective? Has it been fulfilling?

The Abundance Game is played at many levels. For many, it’s a finite game (speaking the language of James P. Carse), and for others, like you and me and others like us, it’s an infinite game with no clear winner or loser, a game that is played indefinitely for the sake of the play.

For the infinite gamers among us, who are mastering, or who have mastered, the Abundance Game, I ask you this: dare we take this world to a whole new level in terms of having it realize more of its potential? Or, would this grand impetus be running interference with the evolutionary growth of the finite gamers?

I look forward to seeing and hearing your responses through the Eye of Providence.

May we, the infinite gamers among us, continue to be blessed, subjectively and collectively, with ready access to our infinite potential in service to all, in service of the One.

To share information and inspiration on what is happening on this troubled yet promising world, I drew up two lists of sites that are serving the causes of personal, global and/or cosmic awakening.

This post has been filed under Application in the Ultimate Outline.

Note: my evolving outline on approaching a realization of the ultimate in personal fulfillment can be found here, accessible from the nav menu under the page “Be Here Now”.

Note: this ever growing perspective began here: Ultimate Perspective

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