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Welcome to the age of abundance

Ramit Sethi

Who knows someone whose house looks like it came out of some design blog? I’m talking about the people who make DIY centerpieces from their great-grandmother’s 3rd grade lunch box.

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I have a friend with a place like that, and eventually it hit me why her apartment always looked so put together: She ALWAYS has fresh flowers all throughout her home.

I had to ask. She has a busy full-time job, so how does she buy and water and care for the roughly 4,126 flowers throughout her apartment? That’s when she confessed: She has fresh flowers delivered to her house every week. Amazing, beautiful, artisanal flowers from an NYC flower delivery service.

Keep in mind, this wasn’t a fancy office or a mansion, but her tiny NYC apartment. She spent money every month equivalent to her cable bill to be surrounded by fresh flowers.

And they looked great.

I loved it.

This is a great example of abundance: If you love the way flowers look and they make you happy, you don’t “save” buying flowers for a special occasion. You make sure you have them around you ALL THE TIME.

Man, this one really hit me because I used to do exactly that — “save” the things I love for a special occasion.

Abundance is one of those words thrown around by life coaches and woo-woo authors, but it’s taken me years to begin to understand what it really means.

I thought I’d share a few of my favorite examples of abundance. For me, the best way to internalize this concept was to learn from specific examples.

1. Ordering anything you want at a restaurant

When I was growing up, we ate out once every 4-6 weeks — maybe. And it was at a pizza place, with a coupon, where we’d share everything (including drinks). In my early 20s, one of the most abundant things I ever did was order an appetizer. The $5 didn’t really matter — but the psychological step did.

Now, I have a new philosophy: Whenever I take one of my coworkers out for dinner, I let them know that my rule is if they see ANYTHING they like, they have to order it. You think the squid and the salmon sound good? Order them both.

That’s abundance.

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Sometimes you want 4 kinds of tarts.

2. Helping someone without expectation of ROI 

When I used to go to marketing conferences, it was easy to instantly spot the leeches — the people who come up to you, pretend to make small talk, then get to the point: “So how many people on your email list?” This slimy feeling made me feel objectified, like I needed to take a shower. Is this what it’s like to be an attractive woman?

The VERY BEST people don’t need to “go in for the kill” the first time they meet you. That’s because they know they’re building a long-term relationship and — because they’re likable and have something valuable to offer — they’ll earn the right to build that relationship.

As a specific example, I take ~5 calls every week where I don’t need anything. Some of them are with beginning entrepreneurs who reached out through a warm connection to get advice. I love helping them. Some of them are people I want to build relationships with. They also take the calls without looking for direct ROI, because top performers know relationships trump all.

Here’s a tip on how to implement this: Reach out to someone who wrote something you loved — something recent, from the last month — and send them an email telling them why you appreciated it and how it changed your life. Don’t expect anything from it. Now do that 3x/week for a year.

That’s abundance.

3. Setting boundaries

Americans suck at setting boundaries. This is one of the reasons you see people complaining about how “overwhelmed” they are — yet if you look where they’re actually spending their time, it’s doing a bunch of stuff they don’t even care about!

I talked about our inability to set boundaries in a live presentation I did to 1,000+ people.

In the dating world, I see a bunch of men/women getting led on because they’re not willing to put their foot down and say, “No, that’s not cool.”

And I see a bunch of entrepreneurs wasting time chasing random Twitter/Pinterest accounts because they’re not willing to set boundaries with themselves/their teams and say NO. No, that’s not going to move the needle. No, we can’t keep saying “It can’t hurt” (it really can, because it’s a massive distraction). No, I’m not going to do a bunch of random things because some internet blog told me to.

Setting boundaries is, by definition, abundant because it means you have options. If you set clear boundaries around what you’re looking for and what you’re not, that startles people — because you must be really high-value to be that clear about it.

For example, when I tell you we’re not interested in playing in the $50 sandbox — we’d rather give our material away for free, or create something that people love paying $2,000+ for — that’s setting boundaries.

When you go to a meeting and they’re late, and you leave after 15 minutes, you don’t need to meet them next time. Boundaries mean you value your time more highly than almost anything else.

Boundaries also let you be fully present when you’re hanging out with friends or family or at work. “Discipline is freedom,” it’s been said. This is exactly what boundaries provide. But they’re extraordinarily hard to establish, because they mean turning down certain options.

That’s abundance.

4. Investing in yourself when you’re unsure of the outcome 

Whenever I hear someone ask, “But how do I KNOW this will work for me?” I already know they’re doomed.

Loser psychology: “How do I know this will work for me? I’m a left-handed half-Chinese dude who’s gluten-free and I love kickball…do you have a case study of someone like that???”

Winner psychology: “I’ve done my homework and this looks good. I’m worth it and I’m smart enough to figure out how to apply this to my life.”

In short, they see learning as a process — a journey — not something they “reach.”

This is why I took a class on managerial accounting at Columbia — even though I have people who run my finance team!

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Follow me on Instagram here.

It’s why I continue to spend $50,000+/year on trainers, teachers, and more.  

It’s why I read more than 2 books a week.

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It doesn’t need to be a 50k investment. It’s more about the mindset. I did these things when I had nothing and I’ll continue to do them even as I grow my business.

The best always look for ways they can learn, rather than worrying about all the snowflake-y reasons they can’t.

That’s abundance.

5. Get pedicures before your nails get out of hand

It might be getting a haircut, getting a pedicure, or getting a new pair of socks. Whatever. Abundance is getting one before you absolutely need it — before your nails look like the crypt keeper or your socks are threadbare.

You might say wasteful, but if it’s something you truly value, find a way to regularly incorporate it in your life.

You don’t have to wait until you absolutely NEED it — until your back is against the wall. As long as you can afford it and you value it, it’s OK to get something when you want it — not only when you need it.

That’s abundance.

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I hope this helped. One of my goals is to take these random phrases that people throw around — “fear of success,” “giving value,” and “abundance” — and show you real examples to bring them to life.

You won’t find these anywhere else. They are a big thank-you for reading and a guide to living your definition of a Rich Life.

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  1. avatar

    Thank you Ramit!

    This puts abundance into a perspective I can digest. A lot of material on abundance is either regurgitated fluff pieces OR utter crap pulled out of someone's ass.

    Three (setting boundaries) and four (investing in yourself no matter the outcome) have been the hardest for me. We women are NOTORIOUS for being scared to say no and draw a line and I sometimes focus on the outcome a little bit too much which results in a fear of failure.

    Only to end up not doing anything at all…

    So yeah, thank you once again.

  2. avatar
    Tom Johnston


    One aspect of your post here that I find interesting is that a lot of your comments about abundance involve spending money. I get your point that we don't want to shrink into the crabbed "scrooge mentality" as I like to call it.

    But, in my feigned-humble opinion, the next level of abundance thinking is to see abundance everywhere.

    Whoever is reading this comment should stop for a moment and reflect on the abundance that is oxygen and air flowing everywhere in our world. Or the abundance reflected in the clear blue sky stretching in all directions.

    How about the abundance of your friends' and families' love and friendship? This is true abundance, not buying an extra appetizer…. Indeed, the more you recognize the abundance that is natural to life, the less you need to try to buy it or indicate to the world your efforts to express it through conspicuous consumption.

    I'm not in any way advocating hyper-frugality. However, I think it's foolish to link spending money and abundance too tightly.

    Keep up the great posts. You are among my top five writers on finances and career management. Sincerely, Tom!

  3. avatar

    Getting a fresh basket of strawberries and eating them. That's abundance. After all, strawberries are meant to be eaten…

    I read this a while back, and it so resonated with me. I grew up in former East Germany, and your strawberries were our bananas. Once a year, each family would receive one banana per person. I savored the heck out of every bite. I still can't believe that I now can have a banana whenever I feel like it. That's abundance.

    Thanks so much, Ramit! Congratulations on your new book! And happy early birthday!

  4. avatar

    I've read articles on the "abundance mindset" and it now seems so silly to me. If you live in a first world country, abundance is the reality. You don't need to think about it, you just need to look around and see just how much you have at your disposal. Unfortunately the perception of a lot of people is low. They perceive what they don't have because they live in a world of comparison.

  5. avatar

    Ramit, great points. I am big believer of abundance mindset, and while it is one thing to have that mindset, it's another to find ways to implement it. Thank you for these reminders!

  6. avatar

    "This slimy feeling made me feel objectified, like I needed to take a shower. Is this what it’s like to be an attractive woman?"

    To answer your (rhetoric) question, That is what it's like to be a woman, period. Being judged based on attractiveness level itself is a form of objectification.