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  • Writer's pictureRick Martin

Abundance vs Scarcity Mindset: What Do You Have?

Two cats sitting on a small brick wall
Once has a scarcity mentality, while the other has an abundance mindset.

We have two cats in our family. Both are good guys but have distinctly different personalities. Oscar is like the fat Garfield type, who meditates in the morning sun every day without fail, and nothing seems to faze him. The other is Lionel, a good guy but has the demeanor of a nervous chicken at times. I am afraid to say that Lionel is pretty much out for himself, while Oscar, though the alpha male, is more willing to give.

When I hand out the treats, Lionel behaves like it is the last cat snack on earth and is more than willing to snatch Oscar's snack right out from under him. He has a scarcity mindset, with the attitude that there isn't enough and I had better get mine.

If I were a cat whisperer, I would teach him to practice gratitude. Be grateful for your relaxed lifestyle, your buddy Oscar, the fact that you can sleep all day and life still moves forward. Don't focus so much on the three cat treats you got when you could have had four.

He can't speak, but I can tell Oscar focuses on the good things and comes from a place of abundance. He knows he never has to work another day in his life, and he doesn't constantly need to monitor a bank account. He chooses to focus on everything he has in life instead of what he doesn't have. He practices abundant thinking.

Do You Think Big or Do You Think Small?

Successful people who have an abundant mindset think big. Those that look at life as a finite pie have a scarcity mindset, and it creates limitations in the mind which prevents the creation of bigger, better things. Part of having a growth mindset is recognizing that there are enough resources to go around.

If someone is like Oscar, they practice an abundant mentality and believe there is plenty of everything in the world from resources, love, relationships, wealth, and opportunities. They think they can afford what they want in life and say exactly that. In contrast, Lionel believes that limited opportunities, resources, relationships, love, and wealth exist. And people like Lionel consistently say: "I cannot afford that." Saying that statement every day reinforces the belief and forms that exact pattern in life as reality. You should instead be asking yourself, "How can I afford that?" If you think you can't afford something and financial freedom is your goal, you will have a difficult time reaching the top of the mountain.

Be Happy for Other's Success Rather Than Resenting It.

Someone with an abundant mentality is an optimist and is genuinely happy for others when they achieve success. Conversely, those with a scarcity mindset are competitive and resent the success of other people. Remember the faces of the runner-up in the Miss America Pageant? At that moment, how could disappointment not set into her expression? Boy, that was some excellent acting, and that is not what I am talking about here. You genuinely have to be happy for somebody else's success. The only way this can happen is to be genuinely secure in your life's accomplishments and have a deep inner sense that you will reach your goals. John C. Maxwell says instead of resenting people offer words of appreciation. Let them know how much you value them. People want to know that they matter. Your influence and happiness will increase in proportion to the gratitude you show to others and life. This is one of the fastest and simplest ways to build a more abundant life.

Are You Willing to Take on Change, or Do You Fear It?

An abundant mindset understands that change is an integral part of life; they embrace and accept change. They appreciate that change often leads to more positive outcomes, even if the change is somewhat challenging to navigate. Fear paralyzes people with a scarcity mindset. Those with an abundant mindset have a positive attitude, and hence they take a pro-active approach to life. Rather than waiting for things to happen and then reacting like those with a scarcity mindset, they strategically plan for the future and create strategies for the long term.

Are You a Know It All, or Are You Continually Looking to Learn?

An abundance mentality craves learning and growth - having a never-ending hunger for knowledge and developing new skills. Scarcity mindset believes they know everything, thereby severely limiting their learning and development. It is just a defense mechanism, as they know they have plenty of room for growth.

Try Your Best to Focus On What Is Working Rather Than What Is Not Working.

A person with a scarcity mindset selects negative thoughts and adopts a victim mentality. The intense emotions they experience daily create stress in the body ranging from anxiety, fear, worry, anger, and resentment. Their negative feelings, thoughts, and beliefs develop illnesses in the body leading to general poor health. Their daily focus is on 'What is not working.' If you only focus on what is not working, you will have a hard time recognizing opportunities that may be right in front of you.

Instead, focus on what is working, see if you can maximize that, and limit the things that aren't working. In the words of Tony Robbins, "Where focus goes, energy flows." Those with an abundance mindset are often visionaries and see the limitless possibilities in the world. Their focus in daily life is on 'What is working.'

In his best-selling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey goes into scarcity vs. abundance mindset. Scarcity mentality refers to people seeing life as a finite pie. Suppose one person takes a big piece that leaves less for everyone else. Unfortunately, in corporate America, people have been conditioned to have a scarcity mentality. When resources are limited, managers hoard information, micromanagement abounds, and generally, short-term thinking is the norm. A scarcity mentality is what keeps many of us from achieving our goals. An abundance mindset refers to the paradigm that there is plenty out there for everybody.

Covey tells us that when you live in a world of scarcity, you compete for available resources, even when there is an abundance of them. Remind yourself that there is more than enough. As Covey said, there is enough pie to go around, so break that nasty habit of comparing yourself to others.

How Can We Shift From a Scarcity Mentality to an Abundance Mindset?

You Are the Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With.

Do you know those people who are annoyingly optimistic - always looking at the bright side? You should probably start hanging out with them. Attitudes rub off, and if scarcity-minded individuals surround you, you will need to counteract that to make a career change. As Tony Robbins says, "The quality of a person's life is most often a direct reflection of the expectations of their peer group." Carefully select the company you keep. Mindsets are contagious. Limit your time with glass-half-empty people. Make sure that you are spending time with people you admire. If not, you may need to make some new friends.

Focus and Be Grateful for What You Have Rather Than Focusing on What You Don't Have.

It is good to be ambitious. It is ok to want more out of life, but not at the expense of others. Stop to smell the roses. Take account of all of your life's blessings. When I haven't quite reached those financial or career goals and feel a bit down, I may get saved by my son's sheer joy. Maybe I am not my "forever home," but I am surrounded by love. Take note of life's treasures. They are there; you only need to focus on them.

To Possess a Mindset of Abundance, Begin a Gratitude Journal.

Spend time in reflection on a daily basis. Learn to acknowledge and appreciate all the positives in your life. Gratitude is a powerful aspect of an abundant mindset. A grateful heart is at the center of a great life. In his book, Life, The Truth and Being Free, coach and speaker Steve Maraboli says, "Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in a mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up."It's challenging to feel fear or sadness while feeling grateful at the same time.

Practicing gratitude is one of the most widely recognized methods for improving one's overall well-being. In 2007, Robert Emmons, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis, and the founding editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology, began researching gratitude. He found that expressing gratitude improves mental and physical well-being. Being grateful also impacts the overall experience of happiness, and the effects tend to be long-lasting. One way to practice this is to write down five things you are grateful for each day. Or, if you want to incorporate this practice into your life, you can create a gratitude journal. Remember to include even the simplest things you might take for granted, like the comfortable mattress you sleep on or breathing clean air.

Recognize Opportunities

An abundance mindset allows you to recognize opportunities. In the words of Simon and Garfunkel: "a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest." A Harvard study found that when we focus on one particular thing intently, other possibilities right in front of us can go completely unnoticed. The brain can only absorb so much, so if your belief is "I can't do it" or "it's impossible," then any other thoughts contradicting that will get thrown out. Start training your mind to what is possible. Choose to see opportunity. The next time your team is faced with an obstacle, flip it around and consider it a chance. Face the challenge with optimism and make sure your team sees you modeling that attitude. You'll be surprised at how quickly problems dissolve, feel the positive effects, and how soon optimism becomes your default mechanism.

We are all human, and I think we all fall into negative traps. I know I do, but the more I become aware of these traps, I can attack them and limit their occurrence. Deciding to change directions is the first step. Life is short; focus on the endless possibilities life has to offer. Choose to live an abundant life, knowing there is plenty out there for everyone, so share your knowledge, be happy for your fellow man or woman, give back. Give more of what you want. Although it may sound counterintuitive, one of the best ways to increase your abundance is to give. Don't feel like you have enough time? Slip away from your obligations, even if just for an hour, to help someone in need. Don't feel like you have enough money? Give to someone less fortunate. In other words, be a river, not a reservoir. Giving is sure to put you in a more abundant and appreciative frame of mind. Whatever, let Lionel have that last cat treat - there are plenty. Be the Oscar.

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