The difference between a scarcity mindset and an abundant mindset
We recently stayed in a holiday house with a group of our friends. It was a large house with lots of bedrooms. Soon after we arrived I started noticing that some of the things you take for granted when you stay in places like this were in short supply. Little things, but important things, like a towel to dry your hands on after you’ve been to the toilet, enough tea towels in the kitchen for the number of people the house could accommodate, and extra pillows and blankets. The biggest lack, however, was bath towels. There were simply not enough to go around.
Suddenly bath towels became a high-value item.
Usually, I don’t think about bath towels. They are the sort of thing that while you use them every day you spend very little time thinking about them. But when you are faced with a situation whereby you may not have one to use, suddenly, their scarcity has made them important.
Noun: the state of being scarce or in short supply
Have you ever noticed that the value of something increases or decreases depending on its current or future availability?
During an emergency, commodities such as fuel, water or food become a high-value item, not because at that point they are scarce, but potentially in the future, they may become so. Emergency managers generally move quickly to stop people stock-piling these essential commodities to ensure that they are fairly distributed. This doesn’t stop the queues of people at petrol stations and supermarkets, doing all they can to ensure they have enough. Ironically though, if everyone took just what they needed there probably wouldn’t be any shortage at all. Scarcity not only increases value but it also fuels demand.
Think about technology. When a new product comes onto the market it is usually of limited supply and can, because of its scarcity, command a high price. Do you remember when cell phones first appeared? You almost had to mortgage your firstborn in order to afford one. As the number and availability of cell phones increased, their price dropped making them affordable to most people.
Interestingly though, as cell phones became more affordable, their monetary value dropped, but as more people were able to buy them they became valuable in a new way. Their new value was the abundance of ways people can make money through developing and using apps.
Noun: a very large quantity of something
When something is in abundant supply we tend to pay very little attention to it. Think about money. When people have plenty of it they tend to not notice what they are spending. But when money is in short supply every dollar counts. There have been a couple of times in my life when situations have caused me to have to be very careful about my spending. I reflect on these times with gratitude, because even though they were hard, they have stopped me taking a disposable income for granted.
Every day we get to choose whether we live our lives with a scarcity mindset or an abundant mindset. It is much easier to have an abundant mindset when things are going well. When you are struggling, it can be really easy to fall into scarcity thinking. Scarcity thinking causes you to hold things tightly in your hands, it doesn’t share, it looks out for number one, and holds no empathy towards others.
Scarcity thinking will ultimately take you down.
Abundant thinking believes that there is enough to go around. It has empathy for others, balancing their needs with its own needs. It is generous and outward-looking. When things are not going so well it can be hard to pursue an abundant mindset. It takes a strength of character and courage to think abundantly when times are hard.
But abundant thinking will ultimately take you to better places.
We also need to be really careful about not taking the abundance we have in our lives for granted. Think about belonging. If you have ever been in a situation where you felt like you didn’t belong, or that those around you do not value you, you will know how consuming it is to navigate your day-to-day existence.
But when you are in a place of belonging, and you experience love and acceptance all around you, protect it with every fibre of your being. Abundance in this situation is a little bit like water to a fish. Fish only notice water if they are not in it! Notice the abundance in your life, nurture it, protect it and never ever take it for granted.
As humans, our survival instinct causes us to be more cognizant of scarcity than abundance. Our humanity, however, asks us to live with an abundance mindset. We have enough and we are enough.
Are there areas in your life which could do with a little more abundant thinking?
In closing though, I want to make it abundantly (see what I did there?) clear, that I am still not going to share my towel with you.
Til next time
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