The Difference Between Scarcity and Abundance

I’ve been reading Steven Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People again, and I am really soaking in the concepts that he talks about of scarcity and abundance.

Here is what he says about scarcity: “Most people… see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else.”

At the opposite end of the spectrum we have the abundance mindset. Here is how Covey describes it: “The Abundance Mentality… 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.”

Stepping away from a focus on scarcity and cultivating an abundance mentality is a challenge. It’s one that I struggle with literally every day. It’s easy to focus on the things that I don’t have, that may go wrong, and that could happen. Reminding myself that there is enough, that there is actually more than enough, takes effort. I don’t expect that I will ever be perfect at this, but I can share a few tips that have helped me to start to make this shift.

  1. Comparisons are killer. We live in a world where social media, curated lives, and filtered images can easily make us feel inadequate. In the scarcity mindset, all that matters is how you compare to others. In the abundance mindset, what matters most is how you compare to yourself – how you live out your own ideals in your day-to-day life.
  2. Gratitude. I’ve written about this before and it is something I believe very deeply in. What we focus on, we magnify. By making note of those things, both mentally and on paper, it’s so much easier to see all of the good things we have in life. 
  3. Cultivate and Share Your Passions and Purpose. There are things that we are all good at, that bring us joy and purpose. I encourage you to make time for those things in your life and to share that knowledge and passion with others. It’s the simplest way to give of yourself. It could be a love of gardening, a passion for playing an instrument, or an aptitude for technology that your friends and family might benefit from. When you cultivate your passions and share regularly, people are very willing to share right back with you.
  4. Focus on the good. What we focus on expands and in every situation that we face and every interaction that we have in our days we can try to find the positives and focus on those. It’s a simple concept, but one that I need to remind myself on often!

I challenge you today to spend a moment thinking about the difference between scarcity and abundance and how these mindsets play out in your life. What small changes can you make in your life to help shift your mindset? American philosopher and psychologist William James said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes of mind.” Let your mindset be your biggest asset!