When we see someone with something fantastic or a stroke of good luck, do we feel happy for them or envious because we want what they have? The angel on one shoulder whispers “be happy for them” and the devil on the other shoulder possessively yells “it should be mine!” Stephen Covey calls this the Scarcity Mentality. We’ve been trained to think this way since birth and it’s difficult to step out of it. However with practice we can live in abundance. Read on…
Not enough money. Not enough friends. Not enough love. Not enough time.
“The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition and credit, power or profit – even with those who help in the production. The also have a a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.” -Stephen Covey
When we live in scarcity we live in fear of not enough.
It’s an agonizing way to live. In a time of financial upheaval and economic insecurity we can feel like we’re drowning in scarcity. Every day we fear for the security of our jobs and how we will pay bills. Financial scarcity bleeds into other parts of our lives. Our minds shift to being surrounded by scarcity… of love, of friendships, of time, of money. We feel alone and unloved, helpless and hopeless that we won’t get our fair share.
The scarcity mindset revolves around the idea that there simply isn’t enough to go around.
The first step to switching your mindset from scarcity to abundance is simply to DECIDE to do it. It’s hard to do because we are entrenched in the belief that there isn’t enough so the simplicity of making a mental shift doesn’t feel real. Making the decision is the hard part. Once you make it, then the rest slowly falls into place.
The flip side of scarcity is abundance. Wayne Dyer says “Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into”. Abundance is NOT the amount of money you have in the bank or the number of friends you have on Facebook. Rather, it a deep sense of how you see your place in life. Abundance is a mindset that has nothing to do with what you acquire. It is not measurable by things.
“The Abundance Mentality 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.” -Stephen Covey
How to shift from Living in Scarcity to Living in Abundance
William James said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.”
Have Appreciative Conversations
Make a point of saying thank you and good job. When you see good things in others and point it out to them, your mindset shifts to one of being positive. This in turn reflects on the positive things in your life. That is the definition of abundance.
Organize Your Home and Your Life
When you are disorganized a part of your brain says to you that you don’t have it together, that everything is falling apart. This can even extend to having a messy closet or a disaster in your garage. You are always thinking in the back of your mind of the things you need to do and you end up feeling constantly behind the eight ball. Clean up the messes and you will free up space in your mind for other, more hopeful things in your life.
Reduce Your Media Consumption
Media is designed to tell us that we don’t have enough so that we yearn for more. In order to be complete human beings we need that new car, that perfect romance, a large circle of friends. Facebook is an example of this. Facebook was designed to make us feel connected but more often it makes us feel more isolated. On Facebook we see what others want to portray which is often the best sides of themselves. You compare yourself to only partially true images that people portray. You can’t possible compete with a false image and you inevitably fall short. That’s the definition of scarcity. This leads into the next step…
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Don’t compare yourself to other people because you don’t really know what’s going on with them. You are enough just as you are.
Share What You Have With Others
When you share willingly you open yourself to good things to come your way. This can be saying congratulations, bringing someone a cup or coffee or sharing your time to help them. It feels good to do things for others and in turn you connect to your essential goodness. No matter what your struggles are there is someone you can help through simple gestures. It helps them and it helps you. Abundance begets abundance.
Try to Create “Win-Win” Situations
The other person doesn’t need to loose in order for you to win. This is a fallacy of capitalism. Try to find the win-win in every situation.
Make Meaning from the Meaningless and Painful
Life can be difficult, really difficult. When life throws you a curve ball you have a choice – be mad that the ball hit you or be grateful that the ball didn’t hit you in the balls. Sometimes it can feel impossible to find the meaning in the seemingly meaningless. At those times it can be enough to just remind yourself that there is a reason even if you don’t know what it is at that moment. Viktor Frankyl was a concentration camp survivor, psychiatrist and philosopher. He was able to find meaning every day when living in hell and it saved his life and his sense of self. He wrote a poignant book about his experience and how to shift his mindset to survive called Man’s Search for Meaning. I highly recommend it when you’re struggling with the meaningless and painful.
Remind Yourself That There is More Than Enough
This is a simple practice and one you need to do over and over and over again. When you feel lost and empty, remind yourself that there is enough and you are enough. Give yourself a cheerleading statement such as “this too shall pass”, “I am enough”, “there is reason in insanity”, “I will survive” or whatever works for you. It might be a song lyric or something your grandmother used to say. Find your inspiration in words that you can repeat. Write them down on an index card and put it on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself of the good in life.
Speaking of the good in life, remember to be grateful for what you do have. Everyone, and I mean everyone, can find 3 things to be grateful for each and every day. Make it a habit at the end of the day to identify just 3 things you are grateful for and write them down. If you think back on royalty in the dark ages you would never trade your life for theirs. You can be grateful for air conditioning, transportation, non-spoiled meat, running water, indoor plumbing, and ketsup. This will only take 5 minutes and over time it will shift everything. I worked with the most downtrodden in society and with a little encouragement they could find something to be grateful for, even if it was something as simple as toothpaste.
In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankyl says “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” You can choose to shift your lens on the world from scarcity to abundance if you make the choice.
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