Turning Scarcity Thinking into Abundance Thinking


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by Jayaram V

In some situations, scarcity thinking is not bad in itself. It can potentially save lives and protect people from their own extravagance and self-destructive habits. When you have limited resources, saving those resources and using them for right purposes makes sense. It makes sense to live within your limits and practice restraint and discipline in financial matters, so that you will not risk your own future or Wellbeing.

People who grow up in poverty and scarcity, and who have seen the harsh realities of life, develop a certain distrust and anxiety towards life and their future. Hardened by the suffering and difficulties, they develop close-mindedness and reach the conclusion that one cannot safely live in the world without guarding oneself from possible threats and dangers. Their worldview is wrought in the hot furnace of life. You cannot blame them for it. Therefore, it would be inappropriate to advise them to cultivate abundance thinking, and not worry about the scarcities that dog their lives.

How can you tell poor people who cannot afford regular income or three-square meals a day not to worry about their survival or their future, or talk to them about abundance thinking? You should not teach the importance of abundance-thinking to people, who are hungry or in want, and to whom famines and starvation are recurring phenomena. To do so, would be cruel and insensitive. Such people need our compassion and if possible help. You may give them hope and encouragement, give them monetary help or teach them skills that will help them earn a living.

You may also tell them the importance of frugal living, so that they can save for the rainy day. It is better than speaking to them about abundance thinking or overcoming scarcity thinking. Since they live in scarcity, and scarcity is the central theme of their lives, their thinking and outlook arise from the hardships of life and the realities they face, rather than from their attachment to wealth or the fear of losing it.

In adversity, people will have a different mindset. Since they remain preoccupied with overcoming their problems and suffering, their minds will not be receptive to long-term solutions. They do not think far as they have many pressing problems that require their immediate attention. The problem is not confined to poor countries. A recent survey shows that many Americans cannot muster even $500 in case of an emergency. Homelessness is a glaring problem in many major cities of USA and Europe. The homeless who wander in the streets or sleep in public places or abandoned buildings are vulnerable to crime and violence.

This is not to say that abundance thinking has no value. It is useful in case of those who do not suffer from any real scarcity but from the delusion of scarcity or the fear of scarcity. Many people who are financially well off also suffer from scarcity thinking. They suffer from an imaginary scarcity rather than real scarcity, as they are assailed by irrational fear and anxiety about the prospects of losing what they have. In them scarcity thinking becomes a habitual or instinctive response to every situation where they have to part with money or a possession or face the prospect of losing something.

Many people who grow up in harsh conditions cannot overcome their old habits and deep-seated fears about money and wealth even after they achieve financial abundance or independence. They experience insecurity and anxiety at the mere thought of losing what they have. The fear of poverty or losing everything seems more daunting to them than the real poverty which they might have experienced in their past. Such people are the right fit for cultivating abundance thinking. By that they can open up and put their resources and opportunities to right use to derive maximum satisfaction and happiness in their lives.

Before we focus upon abundance thinking, let us examine a few important aspects of scarcity thinking and how it effects people’s lives.

  • People who suffer from scarcity thinking tend to suffer from exaggerated fear and insecurity. Their fear of scarcity is unreal and irrational.
  • Because of fear and anxiety they tend to hoard things, way beyond their actual need. They cannot easily let go of things as they believe that nothing is ever earned without toil and suffering, and when they need something no one will give them for free.
  • Because of their greed, given an opportunity they tend to take more than what they need. In the process, they may not even bother to think about the needs of others.
  • When it comes to spending, they prefer to be stingy, as they are afraid to make themselves vulnerable to lack and want by spending money. Hence, they are also not generous. They may give some lame excuse when they are approached for charity or monetary help.
  • They may help people in other ways, but do not easily donate money for welfare purposes. If they do so, it is under compulsion or in the expectation of making a better gain.
  • They postpone their happiness or enjoyment in the hope of conserving their resources so that they can spend them later.
  • When they make purchasing decisions, they look at price rather than quality. They go for cheap goods to save money. Eventually, they end up hoarding too much junk.
  • They live in future and ignore the present, in the expectation of enjoying a better life when they have sufficient wealth, comforts and luxuries. In most cases, that day never arrives.

Scarcity thinking influences human behavior in various ways. For example, some people buy clothes, but do not immediately wear them. They keep them for future use because of the fear that if they wear them now, they may not have new clothes when they needed. Unfortunately, in most cases, that need never arises and those clothes remain unused, or when they need them, they may not fit them or may go out of fashion. The same attitude manifests in various other ways. They do not invest money when needed in business or a project, or they may try to cut corners or compromise quality to save money, which eventually lead to business failure or loss of customers.

Scarcity thinking also influences the behavior and attitude of people in various other ways. Some people may appear to behave normally in public and may not show any outward signs of it, since society does not approve miserliness. In them scarcity thinking may take on the form of frugal or simple living. To the world they may appear to be humble and unassuming but their true motive may be to avoid wasteful expenditure.

Scarcity thinking constricts our minds and outlook. It makes people worried about their future and Wellbeing. Because of that, they may feel justified about their behavior and may not pay much attention to the problems they cause to others or to themselves. Scarcity thinking limits people’s freedom to be themselves or enjoy their lives by making them feel insecure. Thereby, instead of seeing opportunities and possibilities, they see problems and threats and feel discouraged to go out of their comfort zones. In extreme, harsh conditions it may also shake our faith in God and in the humanity of the world.

Fortunately, people can overcome scarcity thinking by freeing their minds from habitual thoughts, judgments, opinions, assumptions, beliefs and conditioned fears so that they can stop living in their past and remain centered in the current reality, realizing that they are not more subject to the same conditions that once threatened their survival and Wellbeing. They have to realize that they are no more subject to the same conditions that once threatened your survival or influenced your thinking and perception so that they can become unstuck from their restrictive past and see the abundance with which they are already blessed.

The antidote to scarcity thinking is abundance thinking. It arises from the belief that one can always rely upon oneself to satisfy one’s needs, and by using the right methods and with right knowledge one can always draw from the abundance of the universe. The chances of success and abundance increase when one begins to see possibilities and opportunities rather than problems and threats.

By keeping the mind in a positive state of aspiration and with the mind set on clear and specific goals, one can attract abundance and become free from the fear of loss. Helping others and giving charity are also helpful. When it is done without expectations, it is even better. It becomes natural, when you cultivate compassion and empathy and bring out the humanity in you.

Contentment in life is also important. A contended person is always satisfied in himself with whatever he has. He does not suffer from greed or envy. There is no limit to our desires or expectations. People are not easily satisfied with their achievements of their possession. Even if they are extremely rich, they still seek to amass more. Wealth is important in life. However, if it is used only to satisfy one’s ego, it is an evil in itself. When you are satisfied, you will know where to put a stop to your ambition and your desires.

Further, abundance does not necessarily mean the abundance of material wealth. There are many types of abundance. Whatever that overflows in life is a form of abundance only. It can be abundance of happiness, peace, knowledge, skill, expertise, intelligence, foresight, relationships, love, and so on. You can also make use of your natural abundances such as your talent or skills to create material abundance. Therefore, find out what you have in abundance and try to share it with others. Explore ways and means to attract wealth and happiness into your life. If you aim for excellence and focus upon your goals, you will eventually succeed in creating the life you desire.

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