The True Measure of Abundance

abunanceI’m still gratified by the response we’re getting to the launch of the Open Wide Foundation, which I talked about in a recent post. Every day I’m seeing more people coming aboard, more economic support, more commitments from dentists who want to be a part of something great. I continue to be amazed at the number of action-oriented people who are inspired by this idea, and I hope I keep hearing from more of you. This is becoming a defining moment in my life.

Another defining moment in my life is when I had the good sense to “marry up,” and in a way this foundation is a legacy of my late wife Shahinool’s influence on me. She understood the need to be philanthropic and to give. And in those earlier years, when I said, “We’ll do that one day” she firmly reminded me that “one day” never comes. “We’re going to do it now,” she said.

She was right. If you wait for ideal conditions, you’ll always be waiting. It’s a matter of acting on your values, so I learned to take bold action when the right opportunities arose, whether it was offering special help to clients in need, or working for causes I believed in. And I found that when you act from a place of abundance and caring, it’s always the right time.

But I let that wisdom slip away from me as my success grew and once again I found myself saying “one day” as I pursued what I felt were more urgent matters. The foundation itself is an example. Now that it’s up and running, I can’t believe how long I put it off, waiting for conditions to be right. It’s a lesson I’ve had to re-learn, and I wrote about it in the program guide for the Faculty Club event where we launched the foundation:

Real abundance isn’t a magic number you’re chasing down. Real abundance is a mindset you create in your existing circumstances—a mindset that allows you to experience the fullness of life that comes from giving of yourself in a really meaningful way. Ask anyone who has made giving an integral component of their lives and they’ll tell you that far from feeling the pinch of sacrifice, they feel immeasurably enriched. That feeling is available to anyone, in just about any circumstances, at any time. Surveys in recent years have shown, in fact, that lower income people give more, proportionally, than higher-income groups, and they’re less likely to cut back on their giving in tough times. Cleary, a sense of abundance comes in many forms and it comes from within.

So I ask you to take a moment and reflect on the abundance you enjoy right now and how you can share it. The action you take doesn’t have to involve the Open Wide Foundation, and it doesn’t have to involve money. It doesn’t even have to involve any organization. It can be as simple as resolving to be mindful of the people around you—noticing when the person behind the counter is having a bad day, for instance, and offering kind words and a sympathetic ear. The point is, the abundance you have is real, and you have it now. The time to act is today.

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