Do you believe that the world has enough for you, or that something is always missing? Do you have a mindset of abundance or a mindset of scarcity?
The difference between these two perspectives - first set out in Stephen Covey’s ‘7 habits of highly effective people’ - can have a profound impact on the way we act and how we respond to events in our lives.
A mindset of abundance holds the perspective that there will always be enough out there in the world, that although losses are endured, new things come to replace them.
A mindset of scarcity is the view that there will never be enough to go round, be it love, money, friendship, time or space. It assumes that losses won’t be replaced or overcome, so what you have needs to be held onto tightly.
In holding a mindset of abundance we see the world as one of opportunity, we accept that things are lost, but also gained. Life flows. No matter how much you try to dam the waters, they will flow though you eventually. Better to let them pass and stay open to new sources of refreshment than keep digging in dry wells. It’s an acceptance of the universal truism – “the only constant is change”.
I imagine a traveller striding forwards pulling a small cart. During their journey they may give away some of the items they’re carrying, trade them with others, or consume them along the way. Some items may even fall from the cart or be stolen. However the journey will provide opportunities to replenish. When the traveller arrives at their destination they may not have what they started with, but their cart remains full of valuable items.
However a mindset of scarcity leads to holding on tightly after it’s time to move on. It brings fearfulness, a focus on what can go wrong and the potential losses this may bring. It looks backwards not forwards and encourages over-cautiousness, over-protection and hiding away.
In this situation I imagine someone crouched over a few items, some of which are now broken, some that have begun to rot and decay. There is no movement forwards to renew and refresh. The remnants of the past are zealously protected at the cost of embracing the new.
Alternatively a mindset of scarcity may mean that nothing is ever sufficient. More things may be added, old items hoarded with great avarice, but there’s always something else to be added, or jealousy that someone else has more. I imagine someone leading a horse and cart brimming with items. They are angry that there isn’t enough room for all the other things they want, but the items aboard are covered in a thick layer of dust, neglected and hardly used.
Believing in abundance does not mean avoiding all loss, it simply means that whilst there are losses in life, there are gains too. For some it’s easy to see fear, pain and difficulty in the future but much harder to see hope, opportunity and joy. The future will likely contain a mixture of these things, so a mindset of abundance means that both aspects are acknowledged.
It’s also a philosophy of looking at what you have and discovering the abundance already there. It means noticing and having gratitude for the things you still have, be it a wealth of time, freedom, or good friends and firm supports. It doesn’t mean just hoping for the best, instead engaging with the world and having faith that what you invest in will pay off. It also means accepting that you are good enough, that you can cope with what the world throws at you.
A mindset of abundance requires patience, as there will be times where you will have to cope with the losses, when the exciting new futures have not yet arrived. This requires resilience and a tolerance of pain and sadness and an acceptance that these are natural parts of the cycle of life. We all have resilience that we may not acknowledge. We have all suffered losses which we worked through, and afterwards we continued on. Acknowledge your resilience and step forwards.
To develop a mindset of abundance requires you to accept the myriad ups and downs of life, to hold onto what is good now, what has been good, and what will be good in the future. It requires patience to tolerate the low points in the cycle of our lives, but what it brings is a release from the constant fear of loss or an unyielding yearning for more
Chris Mounsher is a BACP registered humanistic counsellor working in private practice in Brighton and Haywards Heath. He offers both long term and short term counselling and has particular experience working with anxiety, addiction, depression, low self-esteem and relationship difficulties.
You can read more from Chris on his website or follow him on Twitter