Your mindset can have a powerful impact on your overall sense of well-being. In fact, the way you view the world around you -also called your mindset - can influence the hundreds of decisions you make in a day and even impact your ability to think about and act on them.
For instance, if you have a scarcity mindset, you are likely to believe that you are short on resources and make decisions that focus on building them up. Even if it means you aren't able to focus on other things. Mindsets have the possibility to change your perspective on life, so understanding how you view the world is important. Do you see the world through the eyes of abundance or scarcity?
What Is an Abundance Mindset?
To have an abundance of something means that there is a lot of it. For example, say you have twenty stray cats in your neighborhood. If this were the case, then you could say you have an abundance of furry friends that could use good homes.
But what does it mean to have an abundance mindset? A person that feels there is enough of everything out there in the world has an abundance mindset, meaning that they don't view resources as scarce.
For instance, if you have one apple on your plate, and you notice that someone else has three, you aren't worried that there is going to be an apple shortage and will refrain from piling as many apples as possible onto your plate just in case a shortage occurs. Instead, if you have an abundance mindset, you simply enjoy your apple and don't sour its taste by worrying if there will be enough servings for seconds.
Benefits of an Abundance Mindset
In an interview with the Journal of the American Psychological Association (APA), Princeton University professor Eldar Shafir, Ph.D discussed the benefits of staying away from a scarcity mindset. When people feel as though they have enough resources in their life, they are consistently able to make better decisions than people that believe they are lacking. Some positive effects of an abundance mindset according to Shafir's research are:
- An ability to focus on other aspects of life and avoid tunnel vision
- Better decision-making skills
- Higher rates of fluid intelligence
- Higher rates of problem-solving
Not constantly feeling the weight of stressors allows your mind to have the space to focus on other things. An abundance mindset can help people plan better strategies for tackling obstacles they are facing, and even improve the chances of making the best decisions.
It's important to note that abundance is a difficult aspect for researchers to measure and quantify. Much of the research in this area has been conducted by studying the effects of scarcity, which can be thought of as the opposite of abundance. In addition, scarcity is often studied among populations experiencing low socioeconomic status, poverty, and other stressors which can affect study results.
How to Cultivate an Abundance Mindset
Want to know how to create an abundance mindset in yourself? There are some ways to help shift your mentality away from a focus on scarcity, and closer to the idea that there is enough to go around.
But it's important to remember that changing your mindset is no easy task. In addition, there is no simple, one size fits all solution to changing it. It is easier to cultivate comfort around some areas rather than others. For example, worrying about whether there will be enough milk at the store is easier than worrying about covering financial costs like your mortgage.
Some ways to help cultivate an abundance mindset include:
- Build yourself some slack. Think about the resources that you believe you could use more of. Then, try to gradually build up resources in this area. For example, if you feel like you don't have enough time in the day to relax, plan tiny snippets of time into your schedule to simply sit quietly and reflect. When you have these small moments to fall back on, it will free up space in your mind to focus on other things.
- Reflect on what you have. It's easy to get caught up in thinking about all of the things that you wish you had. However, you may find it more helpful to reflect on the things that you do have. Remind yourself of your current resources and the effort you put into getting them. Then reflect on how far you have come.
- Practice gratitude. Practicing gratitude is a good way to highlight the positive aspects in your life that bring you joy and build you up. Consider starting a gratitude journal or share three things that you're grateful for around the dinner table.
What Is a Scarcity Mindset?
Scarcity refers to a situation where there is a shortage or too few resources. For example, if you invite four guests over for dinner, but only have three dinner plates, then there is a scarcity of dinner plates.
A person that has a scarcity mindset looks at the world from that same shortage-driven perspective. A person with this mindset feels as though there isn't enough to go around for everyone, or that they in particular will get left out of receiving resources.
Shafir describes a scarcity mindset as consuming a person's "mental bandwidth." When a person feels as though they are lacking important resources, it consumes the majority of their mental ability and attention. In addition, it makes it difficult for people to focus on anything but gaining the resources they believe are in short supply. It creates a type of tunnel vision where obtaining that resource takes up most of a person's thoughts.
Negative Effects of a Scarcity Mindset
According to Shafir's research there are several negative effects associated with a scarcity mindset. Some of these negative effects include:
Scarcity vs. Abundance Mindset
There are many differences between a scarcity and abundance mindset because they are essentially opposite ways of viewing resources and the world as a whole. Someone with a scarcity mindset may view a situation and comment on it differently than someone with an abundance mindset.
|Scarcity Mindset||Abundance Mindset|
|There isn't enough for everyone||There's plenty to go around|
|I need to gain as much as possible before it runs out||I will gradually gain more over time|
|I shouldn't use certain resources because I have so few||I should use resources when I need/want them because I will gain more|
|It's hard to focus on other things when resources are short||I don't hyper-focus on needing resources and can think about other things|
|A new opportunity may not come my way||There are always new opportunities ahead|
|I find it difficult to solve other problems when I need something||I'm able to solve problems efficiently when they arise|
|If I try something different, it might not work||If I try something different, it may even be better|
|I can only focus on a few things at once||I am able to focus on several things at once|
|If I use a resource, it may run out||If I use a resource, I will be able to get more of it|
Understand Your Mindset
There are a lot of factors that can influence your mindset, including socioeconomic status, current and previous job positions, childhood upbringing, financial obligations, just to name a few. The mindset you have was shaped over years of experiencing the world. It can be helpful to evaluate your perspective and figure out which mindset you have.
Some questions you may want to ask yourself in order to better understand your mindset are:
- Do I feel like I have what I need, or do I feel like I need more?
- Does seeing somebody else with more than me make me feel anxious, scared, etc. about my current position?
- When I use resources, am I worried that I am using too much or will run out? Do I feel guilty for using them?
- Am I constantly thinking about resources I have or that I need? Is it difficult for me to think about/focus on other things?
Reflect on different aspects of your life, whether you remember them as being particularly impactful or not. They can help you understand which mindset your point of view most closely aligns with, as well as where it came from. It takes time and practice to reshape a mentality, so be gentle with yourself and work towards your desired mentality one step at a time.