Quick quiz: You learn that someone you work closely with has received a promotion and a raise. What’s your first reaction?
- Good for her! I’m going to start putting together my own case for a raise.
- I’m so envious – I wish that would happen to me.
- Rats – there goes my chance for any raise this year.
If you answered B or C, you may be someone who labors under a scarcity mentality. People who think this way think that the world has a finite amount of whatever you value: money, promotions, credit for your work, respect, even love. Scarcity believers think that life is a zero-sum game; whatever someone else gets takes away from what I can get. If Mom loves you more, she must love me less. If you get a raise, I probably won’t. If the boss pays attention to you, he must be paying less attention to me.
Scarcity people believe that the slice of pie you get means the rest of us get a smaller slice. Abundance people believe you can simply make more pie. Envy is one of the seven deadly sins, and feeling it is a sure sign that you are living with a scarcity problem. Scarcity thinking can be destructive to your work and personal relationships; it makes you competitive and petty; other people’s success makes you bitter or unhappy. You start viewing each situation as win or lose.
Stephen Covey is credited with coining the term “Abundance Mentality” in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. He says that Scarcity people are always comparing and competing, and calls it a sure recipe for unhappiness. Abundance as a mindset frees you up from petty competition. You can relax, because you know that good things are not necessarily scarce, even if they feel that way at the moment. Abundance thinking allows you to be patient and serene – you don’t give off the tension-filled vibe that makes people uncomfortable. Abundance thinkers feel rich, even before they become rich.
Why should it matter if you feel abundant? Covey says that Abundance as a mindset comes from a deep inner sense of personal worth and security. Abundance people are happy to help others succeed, because they know there will always be more pie (or money, or love) in the future.
If you’re not born feeling abundant, how can you develop an abundant mindset? One proven method for developing abundance is to spend time with people who have less than you do. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank. Donate items you don’t use often or don’t value and allow them to bring happiness to someone else. When you’ve mastered this (did you even miss these items after they were gone?), start donating things you care about. There’s a theory of attraction that says you must rid yourself of old things in order to make room in your life for new things. You may also find that having fewer things make you want fewer things- another way to feel abundant.
You can also feel more abundant by keeping a gratitude journal. Take time to jot down the things you are grateful for before you go to bed every evening. A 2007 study tracked three groups that made weekly journal entries: one wrote down things that had annoyed them, one wrote down things they were grateful for, and one group simply recorded weekly events without context. The gratitude group showed measurable differences in their level of optimism, wellbeing and health over the other two groups.
Lastly, you can change the way you talk to yourself. Instead of saying, “I can’t afford to do [whatever it is you want],” say “I can afford to do this instead.” Look for examples of abundance and renewable resources: light, air, water and grass in your yard, and for that matter, the weeds in your yard. Noticing abundance where it occurs will make you more likely to seek it – and see it – in other parts of your life.
3 thoughts on “Develop an Abundance Mentality”
I completely subscribe to the Abundance Mentality way of living. Aside from it being a wonderful way to live life gratefully, it also alleviates the stress you might put on yourself for something you WISH you should be doing or should be. I do find it hard sometimes to walk the line between feeling grateful and aspiring to do more, but I find I’m a happier person, regardless of the goals I want to hit, when I live life with gratitude.
Thanks for the post and reminding me of this! 🙂
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