In my article Releasing Your Inner Saboteur: Toward Graceful Acceptance of Your Good Fortune (Thrive Global, June 5, 2017), I explain how to identify and release the counterproductive scripts that surface to rob your joy. Now, I will discuss the cultural premises that support your internal saboteur. Most cultures teach that our good fortune comes after hard work, delaying gratification, and enduring mindbody storms. Although these conditions may be associated with reaching abundance of love, health, and wealth, they are not causal. In other words, misery is not necessary to encounter and enjoy good fortune. The cultural underlying assumption is that you can only accept happiness if you deserve it.

But let’s consider the difference between having to deserve good fortune versus being the fabric of your nature. The former requires constant assessment of good and bad deeds to determine your worthiness, while the latter good fortune is accepted as a gift to be enjoyed in a life of abundance. Have you noticed how many undeserving people live charmed lives? The fact that good things happen to bad people is robust evidence that merit is not required to find and accept good fortune. Does this mean that being good is not necessary to have good fortune? Yes, but if you’re a good person, you can celebrate your goodness and your good fortune. Life becomes a celebration of the person you are as well as the good fortune that comes your way.

Here are examples of how each condition responds to the gifts of life:

Receiving an expensive gift

Merit premise: “You shouldn’t have done that.” This response implies you’re not worthy of the gift.

Abundance premise: “Thank you for your generosity. I will treasure the gift.” This response comes from gratitude rather than guilt or unworthiness.

Responding to good fortune

Merit premise: “What have I done to deserve this good fortune?” This response has to measure good deeds versus bad deeds before considering celebration.

Abundance premise: “What an opportunity to celebrate my good fortune!” This response is the essence of gratitude expressed as celebration.

Unfortunately, most cultures teach that life is a struggle to be navigated the best you can, with rewards coming only after hard work or overcoming vicissitudes. But I propose that we can learn to become masters of abundance by finding wisdom during misfortune and joy during good fortune. And here’s the hidden gift: Since wisdom and joy are inseparable, both can be celebrated to live in abundance rather than constantly tallying your deeds.

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