The Abundance Mentality vs. Scarcity Thinking

Abundance Mentality

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by Jayaram V

Resources may be limited on earth, but the universe personifies unlimited material abundance. Space itself is an unrestrictive phenomenon. It does not stop you from moving in any direction. We may create walls, but space itself is without walls. Life offers innumerable opportunities to everyone to express themselves.

At the same time, we are also limited by circumstances, abilities, opportunities and resources. Yet, people seem to transcend those limitations and achieve success. Successful people come from all backgrounds. People with humble beginnings made it to the top. Some became even national and international leaders and celebrities.

What does it mean? It means that the universe opens itself to some and offers unlimited riches to them, while it closes itself upon others. True, luck favors some. However, some people make that luck possible by sheer hard work and intelligent planning. To improve your chances of success, you can make one important beginning. You can stop worrying about things that you do not have and which you cannot control, and start thinking about the blessings which you have and the things that you can control.

Another way to look at it is to start thinking about what you can do and what you can accomplish, rather than what you cannot do. Some people focus on opportunities rather than the constraints. It is not that they ignore the reality. They adapt to the situation and act within their constraints to overcome them or go around them. In short, they are driven by abundance mentality rather than scarcity mentality. They use what they have, drawing richly from the natural talents and abilities with which they are endowed, making full use of them, and manage the limitations that seem to restrain their ability or talent.

For example, it is not necessary that to build relationships you should be rich or wealthy. Wealth does not guarantee genuine relationships. You can build relationships by giving what you have, which can be your knowledge, talents, skills, compassion, helping nature, gratitude, ideas or advice. You can help people with soothing words, appreciation, encouragement, blessings, being good and gentle and make light of their burden.

Our survival instinct wants us to conserve our resources. No one can find fault with that approach. If you spend all your money without a care for tomorrow, you know what will happen to you when adversity strikes or when you have to survive on meager income. Therefore, it is wise to plan for your future, avoid extravagance, but wisely spend your time to maximize your success and chances of happiness, using your skills and talents to attract abundance into your life.

The effects of scarcity thinking

How scarcity mentality affects our thinking and behavior? It makes people selfish, narrow-minded, fearful, anxious, jealous and suspicious. Because of that, they think and act as if they do not have enough money, opportunities, time or privileges to feel free or act according to their desires and aspirations. Scarcity mentality makes people think as if they have to compete with others for success and resources, as they feel restricted or limited by others or their circumstances.

Some people feel envious at the success of others as if their success is going to limit their own opportunities. Some act as if they are poor even if they are rich, as they believe that by spending money they may become poor or lose their riches. Scarcity thinking effects businesses too when people take decisions according to their fears rather than their hopes and aspirations. Some try to cut corners and compromise quality to avoid extra expenditure. Some try to cling to customers, fearing that they may be snatched away by their competitors, even if it means meeting with their unreasonable or unrealistic demands and expectations.

Scarcity thinking acts like a mental trap. It becomes the guiding factor when you feel that you do not have something that you badly need or depend upon. For example, it can make people neglect their own health to save on health costs or avoid going to the gym to avoid the subscription costs. People may also avoid healthy foods, since they cost more and settle for unhealthy foods which are cheaper but more harmful.

In other words, scarcity thinking makes you shortsighted or narrow-minded. Your decisions become influenced by fear and anxiety rather than reason and discretion, whereby you engage in “trade-off thinking,” substituting a superior and a better choice with an inferior and a worse one. By imposing too many restrictions upon oneself and resisting too many temptations, needs and wants, one also feels weak and helpless or worthless, having no control or willpower and no self-esteem.

As Stephan Covey said, scarcity mentality is a zero-sum paradigm of life. Those who possess it find it difficult to share recognition and credit, power or profit, even with those who help them achieving them. They also have a hard time to feel genuinely happy for the success or happiness of others. They may also engage in deceptive games to undermine them or damage their reputation.

However, in certain situations scarcity thinking may become the means to self-preservation and even hard work and success. For example, faced with scarcity, people may take measures to augment their income or find alternatives to cope with it. They may conserve their resources or prioritize their needs and goals. They may also take measures to protect themselves from contingencies and difficult problems. Thus, scarcity thinking has some advantages which we should not ignore, if we want to lead a balanced and secure life. We must mainly deal with those associated behaviors, which are irrational, exaggerated or restrictive.

Steps to overcome scarcity thinking

The alternative to scarcity thinking is either realistic thinking or abundance thinking. The abundance mentality arises from feelings of self-worth and faith in oneself. As Stephen Covey stated, it “flows out of a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.” Some of the ways in which you can overcome scarcity thinking and cultivate abundance mentality are listed below.

1. Focus upon your strengths rather than weaknesses: A lot depends upon your self-image. Focus upon what you are good at, what you have, and what you can do with them. Focus upon your talents and skills, with which Nature has endowed you, and carve your success around them.

2. Focus upon opportunities: Life offers many opportunities to make use of your talents and strengths and achieve success. If you focus upon opportunities rather than upon your fears and worries and remain in a state of hope and aspiration, you will find them at the right time.

3. Focus upon possibilities and probabilities: You cannot be sure of your future or how your plans and actions may turn out. However, with careful planning and hard work, you can increase the chances, possibilities or the probabilities of intended outcomes.

4. Appreciate the good things in your life: One of the best ways to overcome depression and negativity about your life or your achievements is to learn to appreciate all the good things in your life. It compensates for your lack of things and a reason to be happy and hopeful.

5. Learn from the success of others without envy: Other people’s success is not going to limit your own success. Instead of feeling small or envious, know that there are unlimited opportunities for everyone. Feel their success and happiness and learn from them.

6. Help others in whatever way you can: You can help others in many ways. Find whatever that you have in abundance and share it with others. It can be knowledge, time, compassion, appreciation, talent, encouragement, service, friendliness, advice, support, and so on.

7. Be pleasant and kind to yourself and others: Scarcity thinking may make people envious and frustrated by the success of others whereby they become critical, callous and judgmental about themselves and others. Resist the temptations to despise yourself or others for your failures and be kind.

8. Find your own uniqueness and express it: Although the world is filled with billions of people, you are unique in your own way and irreplaceable. You set in motion many processes which will create ripples in due time. Therefore, appreciate your uniqueness and feel good about it.

9. Give due credit to others and create win-win situations: Someone else’s success is not going to limit yours. If you give due credit to others or help them win, it is not going to make you look small in others’ esteem. Share your success with others by giving them due credit and let them feel good.

10. Do not undersell yourself: Scarcity thinking may make your feel small or inadequate or see fewer opportunities to achieve success or find better jobs. Do not let your fear or anxiety force you to negotiate for less or undersell yourself. Know what you are worth and try to stand for it.

It is not always easy to cultivate the abundance mindset or overcome scarcity thinking. It is especially true when one is going through adversity, faced repeated failures or limited by circumstances or other people’s anger and jealousy. You have no control over external factors, but you can always draw inspiration from within and believe in yourself and your self-worth. If you draw your motivation and inspiration from within, you can keep your faith even in most testing circumstances and see opportunities amidst threats and solutions amidst problems. Know that perceptions are everything. How you view yourself and your circumstances matter most.

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