Scarcity or Abundance - how do you see the world

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There is a natural urge in all of us to get as much "stuff" for ourselves as we possibly can, and by "stuff" I mean all those things that we might want: possessions, attention, toys, money, sex, success. You know what I'm talking about. All those things that we fight over and cling to and get our feelings hurt over.

I say this is an urge in all of us because I see it in my life, in my children and in pretty much everyone else as well. My children want toys, lots of toys, and other people’s toys too. They don't want any toys taken away from them. And as they get bigger, that attitude won't change-- just the toys will change.

There is another perspective on life out there and this one isn't as natural. It's one that needs to be discovered but more than discovered it needs to be cultivated. My early years of discovering this perspective could best be described as "holding stuff with an open hand". Wanting and having stuff isn't bad at all, we are human and we need stuff. But where I see it becoming a problem is when we cling to and grab all the stuff we possibly can, holding onto it with clenched fists, projecting to the world that what's mine is mine and I am still going to try to get as much of what you have as I can and make it mine. The idea of holding it with clenched fists comes from a position of fear. Fear of others, fear of the world at large. Holding something with an open hand is a very different idea. It comes from a position of confidence and fearlessness. It says: I have this stuff and I'm not worried about it.

Let me be clear, I am not talking about being careless or irresponsible. There are obvious times to lock your doors and take precautions against loss. But I hope you can understand the idea and perspective that I invite when I use the phrase 'holding onto stuff with an open hand'.

When I say this open-handed perspective isn't natural, what does that mean? Well, l let me state an opinion: I'm not sure I could truly hold stuff with an open hand if I didn't have a belief in God and his goodness.

This shift from fear/greed/close-fistedness towards confidence/open-handedness is a skill you must practice. It takes years to develop and work through your life.

Now that I have explained these ideas to you, let me change the wording. When I first read Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People I discovered that (no surprise) he explained this idea much better than I did. He called it the Scarcity vs Abundance Mindset. So let me paraphrase some of his explanation here to give you a better perspective.

The Scarcity Mindset

Most people are deeply scripted in what I call the Scarcity Mentality. They see life as having only so much, as though there was only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.

The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life. People with a Scarcity Mentality have a very difficult time sharing recognition, credit, power, or profit. They also have a very hard time being genuinely happy for the success of other people.

The Scarcity Mindset revolves around the idea that there simply isn’t enough to go around. There can be only one raise at work, and if one person gets it, everyone else can’t have it.

A Scarcity Mindset can come across as either the User or the Hoarder.
The User always focuses on the extreme short term of every decision. What is the most fun option right now? What uses up the resources I have right now so that they can’t be taken away later?

The Hoarder is so fearful of the future that they hold everything, never really using, enjoying or giving anything based on that fear.

Scarcity also creates sadness and jealousy. Someone else got a promotion, I didn’t get. That other person got that special thing and I did not. With that comes feelings of jealousy toward the person who got the raise or a feeling of sadness that somehow you were not rewarded with that perk.

The Abundance Mindset

The Abundance Mentality, on the other hand, 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, recognition, profits, and decision-making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

Typically, the Abundance Mentality focuses on the long term. It involves a deep understanding that just because you don’t get to have something right now does not mean you won’t be able to have it later. Someone else getting a raise does not mean you will never get a raise.
It also tends to create positive feelings towards others. If you feel as though someone else’s perk is not taking away from anything you have in your life or anything you may yet receive, it becomes much, much easier to feel happy for that person. Another person getting a raise or finding a nice relationship is not a source of jealousy or internal pain – it can be a source of genuine happiness.

Bestselling author and speaker Zig Ziglar summed up the abundance mindset with his statement: “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want”.

The abundance mindset is about being in service to others. It’s not about serving others to get something ― that’s not authentic and true service. People can see the difference. Never underestimate that a lack of authenticity isn’t being picked up on by the people around you. No matter how smart you think you are, or how good you think you’re pulling it off, people know.

To be in genuine service to others is to open yourself up to real disappointment in how that service is received, perceived, or even abused. Some people see humility and a truly honest attempt to help. Others see it as weak or suspect. Another may see it as a meal ticket. If someone shows up and bends the world differently, people doubt their genuineness, because it just doesn’t happen very often.

You get to choose how you will see the world, and that view will affect the way you show up each day, and the way you show up will determine the way the world responds to you.

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