What would you do if you lost half your money in a stock market crash? What would you do if your apartment was flooded? What would you do if your significant other left you?
These are all unfortunate things. But if you were truly honest with yourself in answering them, you probably came up with some kind of solution, right?
Even if you lost half your money, you know that you will find some way to pay the bills. Even when your apartment floods, you know that you could move back in with Mom and Dad or find a new apartment. And even when you get dumped, you know that there are 3 billion more where that came from, including some that are probably better for you.
That is probably not what your first thought was when I asked you these questions.
It’s far more likely that you imagined fire and brimstone raining down upon you as your world teetered on the edge of collapse.
Why am I bringing this up?
Because I wanted to highlight an important mindset that separates happy people from unhappy people: the abundance mentality.
In this post, you will learn everything you need to know about the abundance mentality.
First, I will describe what it is, and equally as important, its more common opposite. Next, I will describe the best ways that anyone can develop an abundance mentality as quickly and easily as possible. Lastly, I will discuss the benefits of the abundance mentality and describe exactly what it can do for you.
The Abundance Mentality
Right now you are most likely sitting at your computer, completely unconscious of the oxygen level in the room you are in.
And that’s pretty incredible, because as you may know, oxygen is important for us humans. In fact, you consume about 550 liters of pure oxygen per day! If you happen to exercise, that number will be far higher.
But it’s not just you. Everyone is consuming their 550 liters. We all need it, and we need it bad. How come you aren’t stocking up? Why do you not have an emergency oxygen fund?
Of course, I’m being a bit silly here. There is plenty of air for everyone, and we need not be concerned at all with competing over oxygen.
When I take a breath, I am in no way denying you of any oxygen. I can have as much as I want, and you can have as much as you want.
In other words, our breathing is not a zero sum game. There are no “losers”. There is such an abundance of oxygen that we need not be concerned with competition.
Clearly, we are all capable of applying this abundance mentality to at least one area of our lives. We all know what it’s like to have an unlimited supply of oxygen, but far fewer of us can apply the abundance mentality to other areas of our lives.
Its Opposite: The Scarcity Mentality
Now imagine you are scuba diving.
When you are under water, oxygen is no longer in unlimited supply. That’s why you have an oxygen tank, and that’s why the oxygen tank costs you money.
Suddenly, oxygen is scarce.
You need the oxygen that you have on your back. If another scuba diver wants some of yours, how do you feel?
You are more protective of it, much less willing to share, perhaps even concerned that you don’t have enough for yourself.
The scarcity mentality is characterized by anxiety and fear. You wonder if you have enough and you are afraid someone else will take it from you.
With the scarcity mentality, things become a zero sum game. If somebody else wins, then necessarily you must lose. Therefore, you must always be on your guard.
You certainly won’t take any risks, because you cant stand to lose what little you have!
And the importance of every opportunity you have is magnified 10-fold. Your job interview is a very stressful experience, because there aren’t many jobs out there. If you don’t get this job, you might not get another shot! So much pressure!
The Reality Of Your Situation
I’ve obviously painted a negative picture of the scarcity mindset for you. It deserves it.
That being said, most things are, in reality, scarce.
If you think of everything in exactly the same way you think of oxygen in your room, you would be taken advantage of until you had nothing left.
The solution is to have an abundance mentality combined with realism.
Don’t delude yourself. If the issue at hand is money, you can have an abundance mentality without spending way beyond your means. You firmly believe that there are plenty of opportunities for you to make more money, so you feel comfortable donating to charity.
But you are aware of how much money you actually have at this time, so you can make rational decisions about it.
How To Live A Life Of Abundance
Most of us spend much of our lives with a scarcity mentality. We have years of practice believing in scarcity, so it can be challenging to make the mental shift to an abundance mentality.
Despite the challenge, adopting an abundance mentality is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself. I’ve included several techniques here that will make the process go a lot faster.
Before you can enjoy an abundance mentality, you must take full responsibility for your life.
Understand that while things will happen that you can’t control, it is your responsibility to deal with whatever challenges may come up.
No one else will do it for you.
This is the most challenging part of adopting the abundance mentality because it requires you to stop making excuses and stop blaming other people.
Here are a few ways you can start taking responsibility immediately:
- Recognize your choices. Realize that in every situation, you have choices. At the very least, you always get to choose how you think about the situation.
- Pause for a moment. Anytime something “bad” happens, hold off responding to it for a few seconds. If you were going to make an excuse or blame someone else, don’t do it! Accept responsibility for it, even if you are totally convinced it’s not your fault.
- Enlist a friend or family member. Think of someone you trust, respect, and spend a lot of time with. Have them point it out to you whenever you make an excuse or blame someone else. Remember: don’t get defensive.
- You become free. By accepting responsibility, you give yourself authority over your own life, which means you have the power to change. You can live whatever life you want.
- Improve self-esteem. Responsibility gives you personal power, because you are not at the mercy of external forces.
- Reduce fear. When you take risks, you will be more comfortable. You know you must take action if you want to make a difference, so it’s harder to sit on the sidelines and take the easy way out.
- Better problem solving skills. It is easier to focus your attention on the problem at hand when you know that you have the power to solve it.
Nothing in this post will help you if you can’t take responsibility for yourself.
This isn’t something that you perfect overnight (or ever), but rather a characteristic of yourself that you should strive to continually improve.
Give It Away
The single most effective tactic to help foster an abundance mentality is to give to someone else that which you want more of.
Anything that you give away is something that you must have had in the first place. When you give it away, you experience that you have it to give.
This is a backwards-rationalization. Your mind is thinking, “I wouldn’t give this away if I didn’t already have more than enough. Since I did give it away, I must have more than enough of it!”
When you think you don’t have enough money, donate to charity. See how it makes you feel.
This is not just some new age mumbo jumbo garbage. New research has shown that volunteering our time increases our subjective perception of “time affluence” compared to wasting time, spending time on ourselves, or even getting a windfall of free time.
If you feel rushed and don’t think you have enough time in your day, volunteer some of it to help others.
Do you feel a lack of compassion in your life? Be compassionate to others.
Do you not get enough respect? Show others respect.
The power of this technique cannot be overstated.
Use this technique in moderation.
Be realistic, and never spend beyond your means.
When you are tactful about it, giving yourself a “treat” can help promote the abundance mentality.
Of course, this cannot be done with everything. If you feel like romantic relationships are scarce, I can’t think of a (moral) way to treat yourself.
However, when it comes to wealth, this can be quite useful. I love green tea, so every once in a while I can buy an expensive but exotic kind of tea to enjoy.
The key to making this work is to treat yourself to the small things that make a big impact.
If you feel like you don’t get enough respect, put on your nice suit today. This costs nothing, but it can make you feel like a million bucks.
Pause And Reflect
Make it a habit to take some time out of your day to simply pause and reflect on the times of abundance in your life.
This should be something you do regularly, but it is particularly important when you feel an extreme lack of anything.
Think about that time you had four different job offers lined up. Think about that time you got ten girls’ phone numbers in one night. Think about your 21st birthday, when friends were practically lining up to buy you drinks.
You were on top of the world at least once during your life.
You can get there again.
Spend More Time With People Who Have Less
When you spend time with people who are less fortunate than you are, you gain a unique perspective.
If you have friends who are poorer than you are, talk to them. While you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, being reminded that there are people out there who have much less than you can help you feel more gratitude.
The emotion of gratitude is directly related to the abundance mentality. Being thankful for the money you do have reaffirms its presence in your life.
If you can, I recommend spending some time traveling in a far less affluent nation.
This past Winter, I was lucky enough to get to spend two weeks living in Peru with a dozen of my fraternity brothers. Rather than staying in resorts for tourists, we got to live in my friend’s house there.
In a small fishing village called Pucusana, I got to experience a life very different from that I was used to.
There wasn’t enough water pressure for the toilet to flush by itself. We needed to go to the room next door that had a working sink, fill a bucket up with water, and pour it at juuuuuuust the right speed in order to get it to flush. Sometimes this took me two or three tries before it would work.
You know what? That’s really not that bad. Countless people have it far worse. But it did make me appreciate the things that I do have and yet take for granted.
Focus your attention on what you have, not what you don’t.
This will expand your awareness of how good life really is for you.
Abundance is a state of mind, not a physical reality.
Spend Less Time With Complainers
This is a big one.
A negative attitude is contagious. When somebody near you complains, you are likely to get infected with their negative mindset.
A complaint (according to Google) is an “expression of dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event.”
The implication is that whoever is complaining is suffering in some way. There are only two ways you can respond to suffering: be bitter about it, or take responsibility and do something about it, even if that only means accepting your suffering.
Which do you think is a healthier response?
When you spend time with people who complain, it becomes more socially acceptable to give up your personal responsibility.
Not only that, but their complaints create an illusion of scarcity.
If someone says “It’s uncomfortably hot outside”, your attention is drawn to factors outside of your control (i.e., that your power over your circumstances is limited).
It becomes more challenging to focus on what you do control, like the clothes you are wearing, whether you are drinking a cold and refreshing beverage, and how long you stay outside.
Scarcity is artificially created out of abundance when you spend time with complainers.
Look At The Big Picture
We all have a sort of “tunnel vision” in our own lives.
We spend so much time, well…being ourselves.
We look at the world through certain filters that are created by our own unique life experiences. These filters, while important, make us see lack where it doesn’t exist.
For example, if you grew up in a poor family, you might be programmed to believe that only rich people can afford to travel. In your experience, this seems like a perfectly rational belief.
But it’s not.
Sometimes it helps to consider the big picture. Zoom out a little bit, and think about the world around you. Clearly it isn’t true that only rich people can afford to travel; look at all the unemployed recent college grads who do it!
Zoom out a little bit more. There are plenty of entry level jobs that include traveling. Try getting one of those if you want to travel but still need to work.
Now zoom out even further. Many people actually save money by traveling.
Geo-arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of price differences in different regions. It’s why so many retirees move to Mexico or South America, where the cost of living is so much lower. Then there is medical tourism, or going to another country to get cheaper health care.
When you look at the big picture, you can see beyond your own preconceived notions to a world of abundance and opportunity.
Read Success Stories
Another great way to help internalize the abundance mindset is to read success/inspiring stories that support it.
Or watch an inspiring movie. Or whatever form of media you feel like.
Success stories are literal proof of abundance.
In any possible facet of your life, there are people who started worse off than you and then became better off than you. Or people who have done heroic, inspiring, or outrageous acts to better the world.
Consider Stephanie Wetzel, who has lost over 170 pounds since January 2010. Still think you’ll never be able to lose weight?
What about Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven straight years, after beating testicular cancer?
Or Andrew Carnegie, who became a titan of the steel industry, but not before he had to work in a cotton mill 12 hours a day, six days a week at the age of thirteen.
And who can think there is no compassion in the world after the heroism of Liviu Librescu? This Holocaust survivor made the ultimate sacrifice during the Virginia Tech massacre by holding off the gunman while all but one of his students escaped out the window.
Teach The Abundance Mentality
“When you help another person get to the top of a mountain, you will arrive there also.”
One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it.
Be a good example to other people in your life by saying or doing things that reinforce the abundance mentality.
Whenever you see an opportunity to spread the word about the abundance mentality, do it.
If your sister complains to you that “there are no good men out there”, you can easily point out how ridiculous that is.
If your friend tells you “it’s impossible to find a job these days”, you can tell them that while getting a job may be tough, plenty of people are succeeding. Remind them that they can choose to look for a different kind of job, they can take a training course, or do any number of things to improve their situation. Something will come around.
It’s easier to notice when someone else has a scarcity mindset than it is to recognize it in yourself. Whenever you catch someone else believing in scarcity, use it as an opportunity to reinforce your own belief in abundance.
As a side benefit, when the people around you begin to believe in abundance, it becomes more natural for you to see abundance as well.
Why You Need To Adopt The Abundance Mentality Right Away
It should be obvious by now that having an abundance mentality is better than having a scarcity mentality.
That’s not quite enough for me. If I’m going to compel you to action, I’ll need to be far more convincing.
Luckily, the benefits of an abundance mentality are practically limitless. If I had to sum it up in one sentence, I would tell you that believing in abundance will help you achieve any goal you want.
Let’s take a closer look why it can do this.
Become Detached From Negative Outcomes
When you live in a world of scarcity, there is a lot of pressure on you.
When you go into your job interview, you will be extremely nervous.
If you don’t get an offer from this company, you don’t know if you’ll have any other chances. Jobs are rare; not everybody can get one. And you really don’t want to be unemployed. This is all racing through your mind during the interview.
You fidget in your seat. You panic when you can’t think of a good answer right away.
It’s a very uncomfortable experience, and you don’t get the offer.
Damn that other guy who got that job, now you can’t have one! The worst part is that it’s not your fault. They were asking dumb questions that you couldn’t possibly have been prepared for.
Scarcity becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.
The real reason you didn’t get the offer is because of how visibly nervous and uncomfortable you were. It made a bad impression on the people who interviewed you.
They could tell you were more than qualified for the job, but they couldn’t help but wonder what it is you were hiding. After all, why would someone who is qualified be so fidgety?
When you live in a world of scarcity, your negative emotions are magnified. Any situation in which there is some risk involved suddenly becomes a wildly stressful experience.
When you live in a world of abundance, these situations take on far less significance.
You prepare for the interview and you don’t freak out when you are there. You know that even if you don’t get an offer, there will be more opportunities out there. Sure, it would be disappointing. But it’s not the end of the world.
This mental “detachment” from negative outcomes allows you to be more comfortable taking risks.
You understand the real consequences of your actions, but you don’t add extra emotional ones.
You are no longer paralyzed by fear when going after what you want. It’s ok if you fail, because more opportunity is right around the corner.
Chasing after your dreams no longer seems as risky, so you go ahead and do it.
There is nearly an unlimited amount of wealth out there that you can accumulate, and no limit to the opportunities you have to get more.
There’s no reason to get overly stressed out about financial issues, because you know that even if you make mistakes, you can correct them.
You feel perfectly comfortable donating money to charities you care about.
If a homeless person asks you for money, you gladly buy him a sandwich. And when you are getting drinks after work, you will occasionally buy a round for coworkers.
All of this just makes you feel even more wealthy.
You don’t spend frivolously, though.
You understand that being wealthy, by definition, means living within your means. Since you are saving some of what you earn, emergencies don’t put you into debt.
Your savings will grow over time, so you can live comfortably and securely. If you don’t like your job, you can quit. There is something better out there.
This is true wealth.
Sure, you’re a busy person. Your schedule is filled with various activities. But you never feel rushed.
Somehow, despite all the time you spend working, running errands, and getting things done, you still seem to have enough time to volunteer at the local soup kitchen for a few hours per week. You still have enough time to spend with family and friends regularly.
And you still have a little bit of alone time every day.
There are only 24 hours in a day, but you know how to make the most of them.
You know what’s important to you and you build your schedule around those things. You value your relationships most, so it’s always worth spending time cultivating and enjoying them.
And you are able to say “no” to the distractions that aren’t worth your time.
Just like everyone else, you find pleasure in getting recognition.
But unlike many others, you understand that respect is not a zero sum game. When somebody else gets some form of praise or prestige, you in no way lose any.
That’s why you are totally comfortable in giving praise to others and recognizing their exceptional accomplishments. In fact, you’ve made recognizing others a regular part of your life.
Since you aren’t concerned with upholding your “status” around others, you tend to be less anxious than most people.
Your comfort in giving other people credit and recognizing other peoples’ accomplishments does not go unnoticed.
People have lots of respect for you, and they have come to enjoy recognizing your accomplishments as well.
You may or may not be completely satisfied with your romantic relationships, but you know that you can be.
When you go on a date, it’s never a big deal.
You don’t feel any need to try and impress by acting differently; rather, you feel totally comfortable being yourself.
It may very well be the case that she/he is not the right person for you. It’s better to act naturally and find out that you aren’t compatible as soon as possible rather than waste the time of both people involved.
If it doesn’t work out with this particular person, there are plenty more out there. You have the opportunity to meet more on a daily basis, so there is no reason to be overly concerned.
And when you are in a relationship, you can enjoy all the wonderful benefits you get from it.
You are naturally a confident person.
Even when you don’t know the right course of action, you can make a decision and stick with it.
If it was a mistake, you take responsibility and then do what you need to do to correct it.
You are willing to take action when the result is uncertain.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you take stupid risks. It’s just that you don’t have as many negative emotional consequences when you fail.
In any area of your life, you can act boldly, believing that you will succeed, but knowing that even if you don’t, more opportunities will be coming your way.
Believing in the abundance of the universe may take some work.
Most of us have been conditioned to believe its opposite, but we don’t have to accept our current, less empowering belief.
In this post you have learned a number of ways to help instill in yourself the abundance mentality.
You can start implementing them immediately and reap the rewards. If you have any other suggestions for how to develop this mindset, leave a comment!
The alternatives have been presented to you. You have a choice. Do you live in a world of abundance or a world of scarcity?