Friday, September 15, 2017

Scarcity versus Abundance by Warren Bull

Scarcity versus Abundance

I’ve noticed a number of people discussing the contrast between thinking in terms of scarcity and thinking in terms of abundance. Even for high achieving people, often there is a lack of a reference or a measuring tool that can be used to see how well a person is doing. It’s easy to start comparing what we have with what someone else has.  We might adopt a zero-sum point of view. That is like a poker game where to win means taking chips away from someone else and to lose means that another person has taken chips that used to be yours.
Sometimes resources are truly limited so the scarcity idea of the world is helpful. For example, living in a desert or where everyone scrounges for food, finding water and food is necessary for survival.  Eating a prickly pear now before another person does would make sense for personal survival. In a situation of rampant uncontrolled inflation we might spend our paychecks as soon as possible before their value declines. Achievement by others can lead us toward legitimate sadness and regret because their gain is our loss.
Luckily situations like that are rare for most of us.  Except for extreme situations, thinking in terms of abundance makes life more satisfying and relaxed. Knowing there is plenty of food and we will be able to eat later, makes it easier to avoid cramming the last cookies down our throats when we are already full.
Thinking in terms of abundance, we can look at long-term life and financial planning.  It may make sense to postpone a vacation to be able to save money toward buying a new car.
With abundant thinking it is easier to feel good when someone else succeeds when we realize that his or her success does not in any way diminish our chances to advance. Maybe we can learn from another’s success to facilitate our own.
As a writer, I sometimes find myself pushing for what I would like to do.  When I stop to recognize and enjoy what I have already done, I feel better about myself.  I am more relaxed and realistic about the future.

Engaging in cooperative ventures builds relationships. Skipping ads, which are designed to push the idea of scarcity, can help keep things in proportion. Comparisons to others can let the scarcity idea creep in. The comparisons are very rarely realistic. No two people face identical obstacles or have identical opportunities. When losses happen, as they inevitably will, we may be able to learn from them and find some positive aspects from the experiences that will help us in the future.


  1. Sometimes I wonder why we tend to compare our personal resources with those who have more and tend toward feeling deprived, rather than comparing ourselves with those who have fewer (but usually adequate) resources and feeling blessed.

  2. The zero-sum approach to life leads to win/lose thinking -- which often leads to lose/lose results. Think of wars as an extreme example.

    An abundance philosophy leads to win/win thinking -- which often leads to better results.

    It's important to realize that making ourselves miserable because someone else has more/better whatevers, only results in making ourselves miserable. It doesn't change what either of us has.

  3. I am quite happy with what I have and don't envy people with bigger houses or expensive cars.I am quite happy with the used 2007 Ford Focus I bought five years ago. It gets good gas mileage and takes me where I want to go. My vacations are mostly camping trips or visits to my California daughter. Yes, I have taken five trips overseas, but those were
    few and far between, and I never stayed in fancy hotels. All but two of them were tours.

    On the other hand, I feel for those who are struggling to make ends meet. That is unless they spend their money on unnecessary things. When I was teaching most of my students seemed to have been okay because I taught in a small college town, but there were always a few who didn't have the advantage of most of my students. It was even worse when I retired and substituted in schools in poorer areas. I remember a boy in one where I had lunch room
    duty who brought his lunch and when other kids at the table turned up their noses at the
    sandwiches the school provided that day for those who bought their lunches, he asked if
    he could have them. He stuffed his lunchbox full of them, and then he told me they were
    going to be for his family's supper.

  4. Now that I live in a more rural area than Northern Virginia, I think it is easier to live a life focused on abundance rather than scarcity. People aren't crowded here. You aren't elbow-to-elbow with others shopping. People seem more relaxed and take life at a slower pace. There seems to be less competition, less stress. Pulling together in times of storms gives the best chance of survival.

  5. Realistically, there's always going to be those who are richer, more successful, etc. Having enough satisfies me.

  6. We all struggle over many kinds of things whether we are rich or poor. Right now, my husband has had two bone transplants to his jaw. It isn't pretty. But when we go to the hospital and see others who are having similar struggles, our thoughts are for them. We understand how difficult the surgeries are and want the best outcomes for everyone.

  7. Yesterday I took a two hour break to run errands. As I pawed through the $5.00 pile of scarves in a local store, a customer muttered, "I've been at this all day. The stores are full of stuff nobody's buying because nobody needs it or wants it."

    From the trenches in Montgomery, Ohio. I sense a new retail environment for the holiday season.

  8. When I was younger I think I fell into the trap of wanting what I thought others had, but that has faded over the years. I'm satisfied for the most part with what I have--enough. I still strive to be a better writer and a better friend/spouse/community member. We encourage competition in this society without thinking about the negative results. But that may be changing, I hope.