When we think about the idea of scarcity, we often think of physical scarcity.
We don’t have enough food to eat. We don’t have enough money to buy the things we want. We don’t have enough natural resources to support our energy consumption.
But scarcity can also be emotional.
We don’t have enough love in our lives. We don’t have enough friends who really care about us. We don’t have enough people who understand us.
If you’ve picked up the theme of “not enough” in both physical and emotional scarcity, you’ve hit the core of scarcity. When we perceive that there are limited resources, we feel a sense of lack and urgency.
And this sense of lack and urgency isn’t always a bad thing! A sense of scarcity of time can drive us to shape our lives in a meaningful way before our ultimate demise. A sense of scarcity can help us value and prioritize people and actions in our lives because we lack infinite time.
In fact, if we had infinite time and resources, we’d become bored pretty quickly – just try playing a video game over and over again when you have infinite lives and resources. Without any challenge or limitation, it loses its fun within a couple of hours, if not sooner.
The problem with our human minds, however, is that we are bad judges of scarcity.
We tend to overestimate how scarce some things are because we have a “zero sum” mindset. If one person is successful, that means I am less successful. If my co-worker got a raise, that means I got slighted. If my partner is complimenting someone else, it means they don’t love me as much.
The reality (and the good news!) is that all of these intangible things (love, success, etc.) do not have fixed quantities. And even better, we actually have the power to increase the total amount of them in the universe.
When we operate from an abundance mindset, we give love, praise, and support freely because we believe that more exists in the universe. This practice becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when the things that we give freely increase and result in more bounty for us and people in our lives.
What happens if we see someone be successful, and we’re in a scarcity mindset? We might be critical or judge them. We might try to minimize their success. We might make backhanded comments to them. We leave bitter and deflated.
But what if we see someone be successful, and we’re in an abundance mindset? We encourage them, compliment them, and seek to make them even more successful. What is the result? They compliment us back. They share some of their success with us. They connect us with people and resources that support our goals. We leave feeling elated and hopeful.
Henry Ford famously said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
The scarcity and abundance mindsets are perfect examples of this idea.
If you think there are few opportunities around you and try to hoard all of the physical and emotional resources you encounter, you will continue to live in scarcity.
If you think that many resources exist in the world and that you can create more through your actions, you will live a life in which you experience abundance on a regular basis.
I don’t mean this in a “The Secret” sense that you will be successful just by “putting it out into the universe.” I mean that you can actively create a life that contains more happiness, love, money, freedom, and support by working to create more of those things in the world for other people.
I have constantly been surprised in my life by how opportunities arise when I stop trying to cling so tightly to what I have or want.
When I stopped trying so hard to get a girlfriend after years of searching, I got a wonderful one within a month. When I stopped stressing out about getting a job after months of worry and just focused on helping people, I got an amazing job within 3 months. When I stopped agonizing over every penny in my bank account, more wealth started to flow into my life from unexpected sources.
The best part about adopting an abundance mindset is that you start seeing opportunities where you previously saw none. Just by changing your mindset, you create more resources in your life!
If you’re feeling skeptical (as I definitely was prior to consciously choosing to feel abundance on a regular basis), try it out for a month. Donate 10% of your net income to a source that feeds your spirit. Donate 10% of your time (4 hours per week) by volunteering with a local organization or person who is doing good work in your community. I promise at the end of the month, you will have a new perspective on what is possible. And if at the end of the month you want to return to the way you have been living, then all you’ve “invested” is four weeks of doing some good in the world.
Although it can be difficult, it is totally possible to feel gratitude for the scarcity and the abundance, both real and imaginary, in our lives. And as we become more aware of the abundance around us, hopefully it will drive us to create more of it through our own actions every day.
How have you seen the scarcity and abundance mindsets at work in your life?