The Abundance Mindset

Aug 18, 2021

By Ara Lee

The other day I came across a list of qualities associated with abundance mindset versus scarcity mindset. Looking at the two columns, I noticed that everything listed in the scarcity column were qualities that related to tension in the body and mind, and everything in the abundance column were qualities related to relaxation and confidence.

To my nerdy brain, this has always felt like a fascinating problem to play with. My meditation teachers taught me early on in my training that our evolutionary neurology developed with more receptors in our brain to notice and look out for bad things, potentially harmful situations to ensure our survival. 

And it worked. Because look, here we are! We survived! 

In the distant past, survival was more direct and more physical. You looked for danger, avoided it, and things were ok. 

Here now, in developed industrial countries, in the land of nanoparticles, augmented reality, concierge medicine and fintech, survival is weighted as much on the physical as on social and mental prowess.

Looking for danger, which increases the physical tension in your body so you can run or fight is exactly what’s needed to survive physical threats. 

But, looking for danger and increasing physical tension also hijacks the arousal system in your body, using up the resources that might otherwise be used to engage the parts of your brain responsible for increasing social and mental prowess, and engaging an abundance mindset.

So in a sense, scarcity mindset helped us survive in the past, but prevents us from being able to thrive in the present. 

So back to the fascinating problem. 

How do we honor our innate sense of vigilance, without letting it take over? How do we honor the underlying intelligence, the impulse of “not enough” without letting it captain our proverbial ship? 

Because if we were to deny it all together, we would activate alternate alert pathways in our nervous system, namely the ones I like to call our bullshit meter. (I know you lost your job, but just focus on the positive!!! 🤮) Once our bullshit meter is engaged, our vigilance system kicks on all over again.

One of the steps that I find missing in some of the literature around positive psychology and abundance mindset is acknowledging what else is true, creating a link between point A and point B. 

Can you remember a moment where everything felt awful and you were running negative thought spirals (Point A)? Maybe your body was tense, or your mind restless. Imagine someone telling you to relax your body and put on a cheery smile - just get out of scarcity and into abundance (Point B)! How did it feel?

But what if instead, you took a moment to notice what else was true? In addition to feeling awful, could you also feel the ground beneath your feet? Or the smell of coffee in the morning? Or the cool touch of an ice cube? Could you feel the hardness of your phone, and follow that to pressing play on your favorite playlist, allowing your ears to take in some good music...

Our physical sensory system (touch, taste, smell, etc) takes precedence, gets processed first, over our thoughts. You can thank our survival wiring for that.

The crappy thoughts don't go away, but they start to take their proportional place. When the negative thoughts are all we focus on, no matter how true they might feel, everything seems insurmountable, which then makes our vigilance center (tension) kick on even higher. 

When we allow our attention and awareness to expand and notice other things, our thoughts become more proportional and our nervous system begins to free up more resources for abundance mindset thinking and feeling, which then allows us to move from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

So, next time you find yourself in scarcity mindset, with a tense body, feeling like the world is against you, or in a defensive or accusatory stance with your beloved… see what it’s like to play with noticing what else is true in the moment. 

Play with using your physical sensory system to create the stepping stones from Scarcity to Abundance Mindset, and let me know how it goes!