Once when I was taking a long transoceanic flight decided to splurge on first-class tickets. I knew we would enjoy a couple of full meal services, so I was befuddled when the man in the seat next to me arrived armed with a veritable picnic basket full of food and drink. Despite his ample preparations, when he was offered a pre-flight beverage, he drank fast enough to have two while he began to nibble from his provisions.
Once airborne, the flight attendant asked me which of the in-flight meal choices I would like. It was obvious the attendant planned to skip my row-mate, as he had just eaten his carry-on meal, but to both of our surprise the man requested a meal of his own. (Mind you he was also taking as much advantage as he could of the open bar opportunity, too.)
This man (let’s call him Eric) was not overweight. He did not seem like a person who ate large quantities of food in more than normal intervals. But on this flight, it was if this man thought he might never eat again.
Always the curious one, I started chatting Eric up and quickly learned a bit about him. During our conversation, I found a natural opportunity to tease him about how much he was eating and drinking. Slightly embarrassed, he sought to rationalize the situation with a story.
Eric told me he’s been crazy about food on planes ever since he had been on a flight that was delayed due to winter storms. His plane sat on the tarmac for 90 minutes, only to deliver him to his half way point in the middle of the night, when everything in the airport was closed.
After that experience, Eric became so afraid of being caught in that type of situation again without access to food, that whenever food and beverages are offered to him on a plane, he takes full advantage of it — as if no other food will come to him again. He remarked as well that when purchasing food in the terminal, he may throw in a few granola bars, or chips in with his order, regardless of the fact that he’s already stowed similar items in his bag from previous journeys.
What Eric experiences before every plane flight, is a perfect example of the scarcity mindset in action. Flying first class, Eric knows he’s going to be offered drinks and a meal. Logically, he understands that there is a very rare chance the in-flight meal could be canceled. And even if it was, his rational mind tells him that he would eventually get off the plane and have another opportunity to eat. Worst case scenario, he’s not going to die if he doesn’t eat in a 24 hour period. Regardless, when Eric is in the airport, the false survival patterns he adopted after that horrific winter flight take over and compel him to stockpile food.
Just as Eric could benefit from trusting the airline system a little bit more, so could most of us benefit from trusting the continual unfolding of our lives. In our darkest hours, it’s easy to let the scarcity mindset take over, and act out of fear that good things will never come to us again. When we are in scarcity, we lose faith in our abilities to overcome challenges, and let our courage to handle adversity take a back seat to our need to control a situation completely.
Switching from a scarcity to an abundance mindset means trusting that no matter what, events in our lives will always turnout for the best. Abundance means knowing not just mentally, but deep inside yourself, that solutions current problems will present themselves, even if we cannot see them in the present moment. When we live in abundance, we allow fear and worry to relax in our minds, and find joy in surfing the waves of life presented to us.
This week, as you reflect on your life, where is a place that you are allowing scarcity to dominate your thinking? What would it look like, if instead you welcomed an abundance mindset into that aspect of your life? What are three things you can reframe about your scarcity mindset this week to help you release it?
“If you think happiness is a rare bird you won’t see much of it.” ― Marty Rubin