When you believe you have an abundant supply of resources (like air), you don’t worry whether or not it will run out – unless your supply is threatened. What if air was so heavily polluted that you needed an oxygen tank to survive? And what if there were only a limited number of oxygen tanks available? Air suddenly becomes valuable. Its scarcity generates fear because there might not be enough for everyone.
Your perceptions shape your beliefs, attitude, words, and behavior. If you have an abundance mentality, you expect to find whatever you need whenever you need it. However, if you have a scarcity mentality – if you believe there are limited resources, money, opportunities, etc. – you feel threatened and nervous about your lack of options.
Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, believed many people possess a scarcity mentality. He explained, “They see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there. And if someone were to get a big piece of the pie, that would mean less for everybody.”
John C. Maxwell, motivational speaker and leadership expert, adds that those with a scarcity mentality fear losing what little they have and believe they must protect it. They find it difficult to share with others. They are often jealous or resentful when others experience success.
An abundance mentality flows from a deep sense of personal self-worth and security. Scarcity beliefs only manifest limitations and lack; an abundance mentality welcomes possibilities and new opportunities.
Covey argued that those crippled with a scarcity mentality believe they must compete for everything – even when resources are readily available to them. They don’t see beyond their lack because their perceptions are distorted. On a social level, scarcity thinking leads to fear and suspicion. You feel threatened. You feel unsafe. You believe you must be vigilant and protect yourself because others will hurt you or take what rightfully belongs to you.
Maxwell asserts, “Leaders who allow a scarcity mindset to work its way into their culture pay a high price.” The author of How Successful People Think explains, “When resources (money, opportunity, recognition) are perceived to be limited, paranoia, fear and politics thrive.”
When a scarcity mentality permeates a community, people become anxious and lose faith in one another. They no longer see possibilities because they’re focused on dangers around them. They want to protect what little they have. Statements such as “We can’t welcome outsiders because they take away opportunities that belong to us” or “We want to reach our goals, but we must save our money and we can’t afford change” are examples of scarcity mentality.
Strong leaders possess an abundance mentality. Their prosperity beliefs and visionary convictions about opportunities that lie ahead inspires confidence among others.
The most effective way to nurture an abundant mentality in our communities is by individually committing to abundant thinking and maintaining a positive, abundant mindset. Maxwell offers these suggestions to nurture abundant mentality:
Expect and plan for positive outcomes. You must decide if you want plan for the future with a clear vision or be controlled by roadblocks. Goals aligned with your vision guide your direction. Those with an abundance mentality embrace challenges and plan ways to use them to their advantage. Roadblocks are fueled by fear.
Look for opportunities. Challenges are matters of perception. You can view challenges as obstacles that block opportunities and threaten your success – or directional arrows that point towards new opportunities. You quickly find what you need when you believe it is available to you.
Remind yourself that there is more than enough. As Covey said, there is enough pie to go around. We live on a richly abundant planet. Create a personal mantra: Say “There is plenty for everyone. There is plenty for me. There is plenty for me to share.” Mike Dooley, author of Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams, says, “Thoughts become things. Choose the good ones.”
Express gratitude to others. Let others know how much you value them. Your happiness will increase in direct proportion to the appreciation you show others. Maxwell believes an attitude of gratitude is the most effective way to create a more abundant life.
Surround yourself with positive people. I once saw these words on a poster: “You are the average of the five people with whom you spend the most time.” Maxwell insists, “Mindsets are contagious.” Find a tribe with individuals who share your interests and optimistic attitude – or the optimistic mindset you want to adopt. Find a mentor. Build a support system.
Spend time in quiet reflection. Remind yourself every day of the positive blessings that fill your life. Give thanks for all of those to whom you feel grateful. Imagine all of the wonderful opportunities that are available to you. As you pray or meditate, be open to Divine guidance. Repeat positive affirmations that build your confidence.
Give more of what you want. Maxwell encourages others to “be a river, not a reservoir.” Look for opportunities to volunteer and be of service to others. Scarcity thinking leads to selfishness. Service reflects a sense of abundance.
Sometimes it is difficult to find value in difficult past experiences. Do memories from the past provide you with meaningful information that invite transformation – or do they trigger fear? Life experiences shift our perspective. When present decisions are haunted by painful memories, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again until we are willing to change our mindset and our behavior.
FEAR is an acronym that has multiple meanings, including Future Events Already Ruined, Frantic Efforts to Avoid Reality, Forget Everything is All Right – or False Evidence Appearing Real. The only way to move out of a fear is to move through it.
The most powerful words that reflect an abundance mentality are found on the Statue of Liberty. In 1883, Emma Lazarus wrote:
Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
These words welcomed immigrants desperate for refuge as they passed through Ellis Island to a new home in the United States. If we possess abundant thinking, we believe there is plenty available and plenty to be shared.
An attitude of abundance does more than lift your spirits – it transforms you. You become a role model. Like the Statue of Liberty, you carry a torch that inspires others.
Always believe something wonderful is about to happen.
How can you develop an abundance mentality?
Gratitude is transformative. Try these tips from How to Feel Gratitude (Even If You Don’t Want To).
A positive attitude is a choice. Choose optimism and read 8 Ways to Feel More Positive.
Stop worrying about what others think. Read Why You Need a Definite Chief Aim and focus on your own direction.
When you can’t find words to life your spirits, discover inspiration from Inspirational Quotes When You Need Hope.