This is part one of two articles series on how to shift your mentality to start living a fulfilling life, in line with your long-term goals and aspirations.
In this part, I will guide you through the differences between scarcity and abundance mentalities and in part two, you will learn how to practice the abundance mentality.
Most of us who have grown up in Western countries can agree that it’s a quite competitive world we live in.
We might have it engraved in our minds that there’s only a limited amount of resources, love, opportunities and success for us in life and that we have to choose wisely, look after only ourselves and not let anyone else get in the way of our pursuits. If it comes to worst, we might even be willing to put others down in order to protect our success.
In one of my favorite books, 7 habits of highly effective people, Stephen Covey explained the term scarcity mentality, which makes us think in the “win - lose” terms - if you win, then the other person has to lose, or the other way around.
Scarcity mentality also gives us a very bad self confidence.
This type of mentality is so deeply rooted in our interactions, in educational facilities, sports, personal life, even hobbies and, especially, in the corporate world. We go about feeling like we’re not enough and therefore have to constantly go above and beyond our own capabilities, compromising our mental and physical wellbeing and somehow even put down others along the way.
I definitely noticed that in myself a while ago at work, feeling like what I was doing wasn’t really good enough. While I wasn’t putting others down, I used to constantly feel as though what I did during the work day wasn’t enough, despite having often worked more than what was required. I couldn't leave my work alone and I’d constantly think about it way after my work day was over, sometimes even staying awake at night, thinking out different strategies.
I was nervously dreading the upcoming feedback session at the company that we were about to have and all the negative things that I thought they might say about my performance, despite not having any logical justification to why it would be the case.
To my surprise, ALL of my colleagues only said amazing things about my performance and work ethic and they apparently were extremely impressed with my contributions.
That really got me thinking about how bad our self confidence and the view of life can be influenced by scarcity mentality.
And this is only one small example of how our mentality influences us.
There’s a much larger picture that the different aspects of scarcity mentality add up to.
If it dominates in the majority of your thoughts, scarcity mentality could be the reason why you might not be living a fulfilling life, even if it looks like that on the outside.
Here’s a small checklist to help you see whether you possess a scarcity mentality:
Think that there’s a limited amount of possibilities and resources for all of us and that only a few of us can have them?
Find yourself thinking “if only” thoughts often? (if only I had this job, if only I lived in a bigger house, if only my partner listened to me, if only I could go on this lovely vacation, etc.)
Focus on what you don’t have in life more often than what you do have?
Feel as though you aren’t enough and will never be enough?
Feel stuck in life?
Feel like you’re not in control of your own life? Like you are in the passenger’s seat in the car of your life and someone else is driving you to places that you don’t really want to go to.
Have a lingering feeling of something missing in your life, no matter how much you achieve?
Have no interest in deepening your knowledge within your field, or learning new things?
See more risks than opportunities in many situations of your life?
Feel like your own self worth diminishes when somebody else achieves something?
Often feel jealous when someone gets something that you think you also deserve?
Talk negatively about someone to others when you feel like they’ve gotten something that they didn’t deserve?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above questions, there’s a high probability that you think in terms of scarcity rather than abundance in those areas.
It is absolutely okay to feel that way though, since we all possess some of the scarcity mentality in one area or the other.
It is actually evolutionary to focus on the negative more than on the positive in our lives, since it has protected our ancestors from danger, giving them a higher chance of survival and passing on their genes to the next generation.
Research shows that we still experience losses more strongly than gains nowadays (the phenomenon is called loss aversion (1)) and some of it is good for us, but in many cases it can escalate too much.
We live in a very different world than our ancestors lived in, and the scarcity mentality doesn’t necessarily contribute to our higher chances of survival, or living fulfilling lives to the same extent anymore.
There is another type of mentality which allows you to live a fulfilling and much happier life.
And it is definitely possible to shift your mentality towards the happier one.
Abundance mentality is the opposite of scarcity.
It empowers us to be in charge of our own lives, helping us trust that there are endless amounts of resources, love, opportunities, possibilities and joy in life for everyone - we just have to keep an open mind to notice and take them.
The main difference between the two mentalities is that with abundance, you focus on the opportunities, instead of limitations in every situation in life. You think in the “win - win” terms, i.e. others don’t have to lose in order for you to win - there’s something in it for everyone. It is a quite optimistic mentality, while scarcity can be seen as pessimistic.
While scarcity mindset is known to be quite common in the corporate world, some of the most successful companies actually have the abundance mentality. For example, this is exactly what makes Amazon a successful business (2).
Optimism, that’s closely connected with abundance mentality, is proven to have amazing benefits for our mental and physical health, and the overall quality of life.
People who have optimistic view of life are proven to make healthier choices about their mental and physical health throughout their lives, in terms of coping with stress, having better nutrition, better social relationships, higher life expectancy and many more (3).
Abundance mentality is definitely worth acquiring.
Having practiced thinking in terms of abundance rather than scarcity in most aspects in life for several years now, I have experienced its benefits myself.
I can definitely say that my mental and physical health are so much better now than what it was a few years ago and I have a very different outlook on life in general than what I had before.
Here are some of the ways the abundance mentality can look like:
You feel that there is an unlimited amount of possibilities, resources, opportunities, love and support for you no matter what happens, you just have to be open to notice them and take them.
You find happiness in no matter what circumstances you happen to be - even in the worst of situations you find things to be grateful for.
You are hopeful about the future and feel that you have the power to steer it to the direction you want it to go.
You are genuinely happy for others when they achieve something because you feel secure in your own capabilities and effort.
You possess an open and curious attitude, realizing that there’s always much more to learn, so you develop your skills and knowledge in your own field and expand your horizons in other fields, by being genuinely interested in other people, cultures and new skills.
You are comfortable with change and find new opportunities in new situations.
You strategically plan your own future and live your life in line with your goals.
You consider failures as learning opportunities.
Feel that you are enough.
You take action instead of waiting for things to happen.
You aren’t afraid to take calculated risks if you see great opportunities in a situation.
As you can see, there are great benefits of living with an abundance mentality rather than scarcity mentality. I’ve noticed that my creativity and self confidence have increased tremendously, I have become braver to take calculated risks, and am living more in line with my long term goals professionally and personally, rather than giving in to short term pleasures.
There are several ways you can practice the abundance mentality, to make it become more prominent in your life.
Next week, I will give you tips on how to put the abundance mentality in practice.
Stay tuned for part two “Enjoy Your Life to the Fullest by Shifting from Scarcity to Abundance Mentality” in order to learn how to live a fulfilling life! :)
I am very interested to hear your opinion and tips on what you'd like to read about in this blog, so you are more than welcome to leave a comment here, or contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura | MSc in Medical Science, Certified Mindfulness Life Coach