Abundance or scarcity?

Like many aspiring children of lower middle class families, my driving force for the first decade or two of adult life was to Do Well. Promotions that gave me a 15 fold increase in salary in as many years, houses of increasing magnitude, shoes of increasing cost.

Yet when I review the moments of joy in my life, it seems that many of them are associated with beautiful management of scarcity rather than the pleasure of plentitude.

It strikes me – and as a behavioural researcher I now fall prey to the menace of the sample of one – that the satisfaction of maiming something out of, if not nothing, then close to that, far outweighs the skilful allocation of more unlimited resources. The dinner for six conjured up from a mostly empty pantry on the spur of the moment, the brilliant marketing campaign that was born of a 75% budget cut, the friendships triggered by the necessity of knowing nobody in a strange city and needing a place to spend the night. When I imagine my potted history, these moments triumph over the relatively uncreative task of having money and spending it.

Not only money of course. How many of us have had that urgent desire to do other things when we have a busy schedule of work / childrearing / exam preparation / deadline meeting… then when the urgency passes and we have time to pause, maybe do whatever we like for half a day somehow none of it is quite so appealing?

As humans we are strivers. We are survivalists. We love a bit of adversity. So if you are on a path to abundance, you might pause for a moment and consider… but will it make me happy? Maybe scarcity is a kind of abundance.

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