Here’s the thing: I am obsessed with getting home at the end of the work day.
Yes, my commute is long, and I’m eager to get on the road and beat traffic. Yes, I miss Teddy, and I want to get home to him as soon as I can. Yes, I’m a homebody who needs her book and her journal and her cozy couch more than most.
But I’ve always been this way. I’ve always been hyperfocused on getting home, and sometimes just on getting to the next place, the next activity. And I’m thinking it might have something to do with the concept of scarcity versus abundance.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this dichotomy, and I’m afraid that I may have a tendency to be a scarcity thinker.
To explain the difference:
When you’re a scarcity thinker, you worry that there is not enough – not enough time, not enough energy, not enough money. NEVER ENOUGH.
When you’re an abundance thinker, you believe there is enough – plenty of everything – and, IMHO, it enables you to be more generous and giving and to have faith that whatever you need will be provided.
This is why I worry that I am a scarcity thinker:
My work week is long and hard, and I wish that I could spend all day every day with Teddy instead of just the two weekend days. However, I often find that halfway through Saturday, I start to get sad because Monday is approaching.
I get SO frustrated with myself when this happens. When it’s halfway through Saturday, that means that 75% of my weekend is still there for me to enjoy! I don’t want to ruin it by worrying about how bummed I’ll be on Monday morning.
But this is how the scarcity mindset plays out in my life. I’m always worried that I won’t have enough (time, money, energy), that I won’t do enough (writing, cooking, working), and that I won’t be enough (thin enough, smart enough, friendly enough, strong enough).
THIS SEEMS LIKE A TERRIBLE WAY TO LIVE.
Two of my favorite writers, Brene Brown and Cheryl Strayed, each touch on this topic in their work. In my favorite Brene book, The Gifts Of Imperfection, the fourth guidepost she writes about is “Cultivate Gratitude & Joy: Let Go Of Scarcity and Fear of The Dark.” She quotes another writer, Lynne Twist (author of The Soul Of Money), in her discussion of scarcity versus abundance:
“For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it. … We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough – ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.”
And in Cheryl’s gorgeous book, Tiny Beautiful Things, she writes this to a young writer who is worried she’ll never get a six-figure book deal:
A lot of artists give up because it’s just too damn hard to go on making art in a culture that by and large does not support its artists. But the people who don’t give up are the people who find a way to believe in abundance rather than scarcity. They’ve taken into their hearts the idea that there is enough for all of us, that success will manifest itself in different ways for different sorts of artists, that keeping the faith is more important than cashing the check, that being genuinely happy for someone else who got something you hope to get makes you genuinely happier too.
(You can read this Dear Sugar column in its entirety here!)
I don’t think I’m a scarcity thinker in every aspect of my life. For example, I am often (though not always) optimistic. But scarcity thinking pops up a lot. Every time I feel envious of someone else, it’s because I am looking at the world with a scarcity mindset. My most prominent envy involves writing; I am quick to envy a writer (especially one younger than me) who has enjoyed literary success. I am quick to envy because I think there are not enough readers, opportunities, or successes to go around.
I starting thinking about this topic thanks to a Michael Hyatt article I read. He writes about abundance thinkers being generous with smiles, money, encouragement, and investment in others. He compares a scarcity thinker to a hoarder who never picks up the check and constantly complains.
I mean, reading that description, and looking at how this plays out in my life – of course I want to be an abundance thinker.
But how do you make that shift?
Usually I am not a strong advocate of the advice act the way you want to feel. I strive to be genuine, and if I’m not happy, it’s difficult for me to just act like I am.
However, with this goal in mind – moving from being a scarcity thinker to an abundance thinker – I am going to ACT LIKE I believe the following things:
- There is enough time to do everything you want to do.
- You have enough talent to do everything you want to do.
- You can trust the universe.
- You can trust that things will always fall into place.
- You can be grateful and confident.
I don’t know if the whole ‘fake it ’til you make it’ thing will help me to move from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. But I know it can’t hurt to try.