What’s the opposite of abundance? Scarcity…
Or is it?
As a former student of economics I have been stumbling towards an epiphany moment for some time.
Years heading up multi-million pound healthcare organisations (NHS) certainly schooled me in handling fixed income against a backdrop of rising demand. My ‘scarcity’ mentality was very well tuned. Painfully so. Especially with the really difficult decisions about where to spend the money and the consequences of choosing A over B.
However, I also know that focussing on what you don’t have can send you down the tubes. It can rob you of what is already in your hand: your emotional, intellectual and creative capacity.
My current concern is that so many of us have accepted this shrinking perspective as the norm.
But the answer is not ‘mind over matter’, the unreality of relentless positive thinking.
We cannot wave a magic wand and create more. Neither is simply borrowing a more sustainable solution, either in terms of creating a better outcome or mortgaging the future. We need to look at it differently.
So back to my question: what’s the opposite of abundance? Or to put it another way: how can we see more of what we have already?
When our mind is closed down with the fear of scarcity we stop being thankful for what we have. This is enormously powerful. And practising gratitude is the antidote.
Not only does it help us see more clearly what we do have – by giving it value. The practice of giving thanks also frees up our thinking and creativity. It strengthens our agility and flexibility so that we can see the same things differently.
I am finding the simple practice of being grateful really liberating (note, I am still practising…). In one sense it changes nothing – in another everything is different.
Gratitude is a great foundation. It also draws others in so that their perspectives and insights get into the mix, unlike when I’m obsessed with the shortfall.
How we look at things, including ourselves, is so deep rooted. We rarely realise that it is actually only a lens, not the absolute or real thing.
My first degree in overseas development was a brilliant attempt at interdisciplinary problem solving on a large scale. We explored different worldviews and I understood that the way people perceive reality was shaped by their values and beliefs (and disciplines). There is no one answer, just as there is no single question.
Later I have been fascinated by Carole Dweck’s work on Mindset (see also her TEDx Talk in Sweden). I realised that by nature and upbringing I probably tend towards a fixed mindset. I’m working on it – so treat me as a work in progress!
More recently I have been challenged by people thinking ‘outside of the box’ about natural, virtual and intellectual resources. We are so used to focussing on what is diminishing, we are not seeing where there is plenty. Yet our advancements in technology are opening doors we had no idea even existed. This THNK piece is a good example.
Experimenting with an abundance mindset
At a very practical, local level, I am experimenting with looking for where we have an abundance. Seeing where it takes me in terms of creative ideas and new ways to pay the mortgage.
It feels like early days and these are tentative explorations. So if anyone has ideas or uses for what I anticipate being acres of lush blackberries later this summer – do get in touch. I suspect that there is so much more to explore, way beyond our valley…
Today I am going to the Digital Futures in Health and Wellbeing symposium at Swansea University. Already I’ve given myself permission to play with the paradigm shift further. So there is more to come.
I don’t want a closed mindset and a small heart. The collective ‘we’ deserve better than that, but we have to start from where we are.
Blackberry beer anyone?