March 17, 2012

The Insidious Nature of Scarcity Thinking

Being fear-based, scarcity thinking makes us think
we have less than we need . . . and certainly not
enough to go around.
In this phase of That Poverty Project, I haven't been able to shake the feeling of not having enough.  Not just with respect to food, but everything.  During the first two phases, I was definitely in the position of having limited resources and few options.  However, during this phase only my food choices and amounts are limited, nothing else.  Yet, still, I have to constantly remind myself that I can do things like rent a movie, or buy a t-shirt, or get my wife flowers.  I have enough, and yet scarcity thinking has its grip on me.

It really makes me understand my grandparents who had lived through the Great Depression and then for the rest of their lives were in penny pinching mode.  It also makes me wonder if those who find themselves in poverty situations have a tough time breaking free partially because of the way they come to think.  Does scarcity thinking become a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Of course, scarcity thinking has been around since the beginning of human history.  It's scarcity thinking that causes us to horde, guard, and develop a "me first" mentality.  It's scarcity thinking that is the foundation of many conflicts between people and nations.  It's scarcity thinking that sets the expectations that a segment of the population being in poverty is natural, and therefore something that we cannot and perhaps should not change.   While scarcity thinking may serve one well when lost in the woods with limited rations, in most other cases it is a destructive force.

There are many who rely on scarcity thinking to make massive profits.  Advertisers are fully aware of how easy it is to leverage scarcity thinking into making a sale.  They tell us what we need in order to be safer, healthier, more beautiful, richer, more respected, and happier.  Because, without this product or that product we are sorry excuses for human beings who will shamefully lag behind all others until we die a horrible, lonely death.  Scarcity thinking sells.

However, scarcity thinking can never be satisfied.  It is a constant gaping bottomless hole into which we throw stuff, only to be wanting more stuff soon after.  While many a commercial enterprise not only survives but thrives on this mentality, it is like a cancer that undermines society and literally leaves billions of people without their basic human rights.  "Oh," we say, "we'd help them if we could, but there's not enough to go around and we certainly don't have enough to be able to help."  Scarcity thinking is quite simply . . . wrong.

The fact is that we live in a world of abundance.  There IS enough for everyone to have their basic human rights met.  There is enough for those who are rich to still be rich and for no one to be in poverty.  It's not a question of whether there is enough to go around, but rather simply a question of priorities.  In fact, in many cases in the developed world, it would actually cost society less to eliminate poverty than it does to service it.  Yes, that's right, those of us lucky enough to live in a land of prosperity would have a little bit more by eliminating poverty.  And, in the developing world, it only takes a small fraction of what the world spends on military, as an example, to ensure that everyone everywhere had food, water, access to medical care, education, and shelter.  Yes, poverty is actually a matter of priorities, not a question of scarcity.

I encourage you to take a look at what you have and be grateful; be skeptical of what you are told you need to have; and to speak out to make it a priority that everyone have their basic human rights met.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

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  1. Janice Katherine LutonMarch 17, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    been on disability for years, always pulling stuff out of dumpsters, buying knick knacky things and other "unusuable" goodies, now on bit of pension, bought a few much needed things new. now glutted (at least to me I am).. am sorting and tossing and carting these useless objects back to thrift store. I have enough food, etc. not a whole lot, but more than enough for me. am going minimalist. have room to dance, and looking for a cheaper smaller apt. (husband just moved out) don't need any of that stuff or all this room. am going to be happier with less, tho will be keeping some vases.. flowers are nicer than some dust collector, no longer "NEED" these things surrounding me to

  2. To realize the world of abundance we live in, through fasting and being mindful of the many gifts we already have - is a gift to oneself.

    i am very happy for You. :)

    That part of my journey, coming to that realization is one of the greatest moments of my life.

    ~ Peace & Happiness to You & Your Family