This is the month of the great national holiday when we gorge ourselves on turkey with all the fixings and while away the day watching twenty two men toss and kick around a pigskin. Well, maybe not all of us do that.
It is also the day we take the time to thank God for the many blessings each of has in our lives. Some of us even commemorate the first Thanksgiving by inviting in strangers to share our food and day.
It certainly is a time to pause and think about a few things, like abundance and scarcity, not just in regard to things, but the attitude in your heart.
Do you have an attitude of abundance or one of scarcity? Let’s pursue that question today and see where it leads us.
A mentality of abundance starts with self-acceptance and acceptance of others. It means, in the words of a famous book, “I’m ok, you’re ok”. Among us are everything that you need to live, survive, and thrive. A hallmark quality of abundance thinking is love.
Whether love is the result of abundance thinking or abundance thinking is the result of love is another example of the proverbial question: which came first, the chicken or the egg?
Love leads to sharing. Since you have abundance, you want to share what you have with others. Sharing not only of your material things, but your person and your very being.
In sharing with others a spirit of cooperation develops. Through cooperation, much can be accomplished. For example, the rebuilding of lives and neighborhoods after a disaster are the fruits of cooperation.
On the other hand, there is the scarcity mentality. This one stems from the lack of belief in oneself and in each other. It assumes that because you are lacking, all are lacking and you must get what belongs to you before someone else gets it.
The primary emotion connected with scarcity is not hate, but rather fear – a trembling inside of the lack of worth.
Fear is the dominant motive for acting and not acting in any given situation. It keeps you from moving forward in your vocation or way of life. It keeps you from stretching your limits to really do what you want to do.
Scarcity mentality breeds a spirit of selfishness. : Look out for yourself because what is available is limited. It’s getting what you want and not caring about what others want or need.
Finally, scarcity mentality leads to conflict. If you are constantly seeking what you want, that will inevitably lead to a conflict with what someone else wants.
A key element of capitalism is competition. Competition generates new products and lower prices. Those are good things.
Competition can also spring from a scarcity mentality. Then someone has to lose.
For example, a local sugar beet farmer commented on the success of the sugar beet industry this season by saying, “It is kind of sad that somebody has to lose for somebody else to win.” MDN, October 26, 2005) He was referring to the sugar cane destroyed by the hurricanes.
Advertising is another key element in capitalism. It makes us aware of products and services that are available. That’s good. It can also be used to exploit people’s scarcity mentality.
On the other hand, Chris Mercer on the Mercer Value website, http://merceronvalue.com/archives/2005/04/abundance_vs_sc_1.html, talked of this mentality in business. Scarcity depends on the individual performance, but abundance thinking depends on and benefits everyone from the designer to marketing to sales to secretary to consumer.
Does your thinking and living flow from abundance or scarcity? This Thanksgiving, let’s examine outthinking that underlies our many gifts and let’s truly recognize the abundance of our lives, not just be thankful for “things”.
For more information about these two ways of thinking, check out
a sermon based on the parable of the sower and God’s lavish abundance and
more information on the characteristics.
Clarification: Last month I wrote about how public figures loudly shout their innocence when accused of wrongdoing. In contrast, Cardinal Bernadin quietly said he was innocent and let the investigative process work. I failed to make it clear that he was falsely accused. Sorry for any misunderstanding.