This article was written by our graduate intern Mary Marchetti
Have you ever felt a sting of envy or sadness at the promotion a colleague? Or at the success of a friend? At the root of these very human experiences is the (often unconscious) belief that there are not enough resources to go around, as if life were a zero-sum game. Our mindsets are powerful and adopting this sort of scarcity mindset decreases our well-being and motivation, while increasing feelings of anxiety and depression.
Thankfully, there are things we can do to cultivate an abundance mindset, which is founded on the opposite belief that there are plenty of resources (think: joy, opportunity, energy, love, time, wealth, security) for all. Approaching life in this way is hugely beneficial to your health, happiness, confidence, and even relationships. Being guided by possibility rather than lack allows you to recognize more options in any given circumstance and weigh them with minimal fear. As a result, an abundance mindset also improves decision-making and flexibility. Here are some simple ways to shift toward a mindset of abundance:
Focusing on what you do have, rather than on what you don’t have, is a key element of an abundance mindset. Taking a moment each day to acknowledge or journal about a few things that we are grateful for helps us see abundance that we might have otherwise missed. Don’t overlook the “little” things. A smile from a stranger or a good cup of coffee can be a powerful source of appreciation.
Detach from expectations
When we really want something to happen, we often get attached to our desired outcome. Then, when life’s unpredictability leads to something else, all we see is what didn’t happen. For example, Scarcity says “of course, that potential love interest is looking for friendship—I’ll never find love,” while Abundance says, “I welcome a new friendship, and I trust that the right person for a romantic relationship will come along eventually.” Or Scarcity might claim “if this meeting doesn’t go perfectly, I will never have an opportunity to advance myself” while Abundance says “this meeting represents one of many opportunities I will encounter in my life to grow in my career.” This mental shift opens us up to new possibilities, opportunities, and growth that scarcity would have closed us off to. Another way to detach from expectations is by practicing mindfulness (the state of
Celebrate others’ successes
Taking time to celebrate and acknowledge the efforts and successes of others counters the fallacy that others’ successes detract from your own. Genuinely embracing the achievements of those around you offer a step toward a life of abundance and may even inspire you to continue striving toward your own goals. Parents can even teach this lesson to their kids by communicating that their parental love is an infinite resource and encouraging siblings to celebrate and support (rather than rival) one another.
Shifting from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance is likely to be a gradual effort but, like any other habit, it will eventually become second nature. Abundance also reminds us that this shift does not have to be immediate or perfect—each moment you catch yourself focusing on lack or limitation is another opportunity to grow. Can you rephrase that negative thought or find a silver lining? Can you challenge yourself to practice these strategies? Abundance says that you can, and your mental health will thank you!