My friend, Lisa, recently asked me what my word for the year was. She explained that, for years, she’s chosen a single word to help guide her through the 365 days of what is to come.

Now, I’d never done something like this before, but I am a lover of all things ritual/intention/resolution. So, I thought, “What the hell?” And I chose “abundance” as my word for 2024.

Not abundance as in “I want,” but rather, abundance as in “I have.”

Here’s what I mean: In today’s world, we sometimes are conditioned to think of abundance from a place of scarcity. As in, “I do not have what I need.” Which is why we sign up for courses or go to therapists or seek the guidance of gurus.

Which is why we stay on the sidelines.

Waiting. And waiting.

To act.

But what if we changed our thinking and thought of abundance from a place of “I already have what I need.”

How might that change how we act? I mean, sure, maybe we need to take a course here or get a mental or mystical health tune-up there, but we don’t need to wait for that. Much like a cross-country road trip, we could just pick those up as we go along.

To paraphrase Thomas Merton from his brilliant “The Way of Chuang Tzu“, the more we see abundance as something outside of ourselves, something to be acquired, the more we become fixated on getting whatever we lack vs. using what we already have.

Put another way, I don’t think we humans created this idea of a “new year” so that we could stay on the sidelines, watching yet another Rose Bowl parade roll on by.

No.

I think we created “new year”s as a re-minder to stay in the game.

And play.

So it is that I’m entering 2024 with the word “abundance” written on an index card that I carry with me through each day (and prop up against the coffee pot, so I pick it up again each morning).

I won’t say this practice is easy. Certainly, it doesn’t come naturally. 16 days into the new year and I’ve had more than a few hours of scarcity. Times of feeling that I am far, far, far way from having what I need.

“Maybe I should sign up for a course,” I’ll catch myself saying.

But then, I look at my card, see the word “abundance” looking back at me and say, “OK, maybe a course tomorrow, but what can I do today?”

Because, the truth is that on any given day, I have at least some/most/all of what you need.

The way I look at it is: If abundance has already shown up, ready to play.

Why shouldn’t I?

The Practice of Being Alive is a collection of stories about getting through this thing called life.