SMS 167 – The Problem with Abundance

The Problem with Abundance

The opposite of abundance is scarcity – you think we want abundance but we actually are seeking scarcity.

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The problem with scarcity – the biggest problem with scarcity is worry for the future, fear and anxiety, and all or nothing mindset

The problem with abundance – there is not off switch, no ceiling, no limitations, no fear or concern for the future, “it will always be there” mindset.

Email is the best example of the destructive power of abundance

Are we are living in a world where too much is becoming a problem? Too many choice can cause us to become careless and directionless.

Is scarcity better than abundance? If you had to choose one over the other scarcity has the benefit of fewer self-inflicting consequences.

Why I never sign up for open ended offers or opportunities –  there is no opportunity for resourcefulness or optimization. white paper The problems of abundance

Example: Back in the pre-internet era, It used to be there was nothing to watch on TV at a given moment in time. Two benefits of this were you watched less TV and when you did watch TV you were fully engaged and entertained.

More humans, in the history of the human race, have died from too much nutrition than not enough. The human body was designed to survive periods of scarcity, we do not do so well with abundance.

Revolutionary promises:

The Agricultural revolution was supposed to solve hunger and make our lives better

The Industrial revolution was supposed to make our lives physically easier

The Technology revolution was supposed to make our lives more efficient

The Artificial Intelligence revolution is promising to…… Society Doesn’t Know How To Deal With Abundance – if you look at all of human history, probably 99.999999% of it has been about dealing with the issues of scarcity. In fact, our entire original economic philosophy (which is really just two and a half centuries old) was based on “resource allocation in the presence of scarcity.” Historically, abundance just hasn’t been an issue that we’ve had to deal with very much. And the problem is that people try to apply the mental rules of scarcity to abundance and they basically kick out an error message. It’s a “divide by zero” sort of problem. You get infinity as a result, and you think it’s wrong. So the response is almost always the same. Rather than actually trying to deal with what abundance enables, people try to force abundance back into a feeling of scarcity — which they’re comfortable with. That is, they try to apply artificial rules and restrictions to make the abundance feel like it’s scarce, so that they can understand it again.

Examples of abundance:

  • Technology – the internet, tele commuting, TV & music streaming
  • Communication – email
  • Global Markets – Amazon
  • Consumption – low cost consumer goods, single use plastics
  • Food – weight gain

The problem with abundance:

  1. No opportunity for resourcefulness
  2. Instant gratification
  3. Requires artificial restraint
  4. The paradox of choice
  5. Without a limit the answer is always more

How to solve the abundance problem:

  1. Self-imposed limitation – minimalism
  2. Narrow focus – ten feet deep instead of ten feet wide
  3. Value System – pre-made decisions
  4. View abundance as an opportunity to share

In The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes:

The abundance mentality…is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It results in sharing of prestige, of recognition, of profits, of decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.

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