“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~ Viktor E. Frankl, “Man’s Search for Meaning”
We like to believe that we are the masters of our fate, though we know that good and bad things beyond anyone’s control happen to all kinds of people.
During our lifetime, we may lose our business, encounter crushing financial tribulations. In business and in our personal lives, there is no limit to the range of circumstances, both good and bad, that can happen. We can’t control things that are beyond our control.
But there is one thing that is 100 percent in our control. It can be viewed as “freedom” in its purest form because no one can steal it from us. In a word, this freedom is our attitude — our ability to choose our thoughts and the way we respond to something. It’s a positive mindset also known as “abundance thinking.”
We can’t control events — but we can control our attitude toward those events.
When you embrace abundance thinking, everything suddenly becomes a possibility. In business, one’s attitude tends to fall into one of two basic categories:
- Being a pessimist
- Being an optimist
Today, however, these two thought systems are viewed by many as believing we either “lack” things or have an “abundance” of them. Stephen Covey, in his classic business book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” is believed to have been the first to name and define these two thought systems.
The mindset we choose will make us happy or depressed. And since one of the most challenging aspects of running a business is sustaining inspiration and motivation, our ability to ultimately succeed can depend on the mindset we choose. Henrik Edburg noted on the Positivity Blog:
“Much of society seems to be built on a scarcity mentality. A mentality that tells people that there is a lack in life. That opportunities are few and far between. This is of course useful for society because if people feel that there is a lack, then you can get them to buy stuff. And so the economy and society can continue to live and prosper by reinforcing a scarcity mentality in people.”
The scarcity mentality is not good to have. It’s the cause of unnecessary pain, anxiety, depression and fear. It leaves us feeling defeated. Having the scarcity mentality tends to result in self-fulfilling prophecies — the doom and gloom perpetuates itself among those of this mindset.
“If it’s a game, then you may fumble the ball. If it’s an exam, then you may not have been able to sleep and will perform poorly on the test. If it’s a date, you may come off as too needy and nervous and not as your usual, more relaxed self.”
Major benefits await those who carry with them an abundance mentality. Bearing this abundance thinking mindset, we believe opportunity is right around the corner — and that life itself abounds with new choices and opportunities. According to MindSets:
“An abundance mindset is based on the belief that there is more than enough of everything to go around — for everyone . . . Imagine a world based on giving rather than taking — and a whole new world of different possibilities emerges. [An abundance mindset] is an excellent positive empowering mentality to adopt because it can liberate you from negative thinking and allow you to see the world from a very different point of view.”
Abundance thinking is viewed by some as having an “AND” mentality versus an “or” mentality. Those who practice abundance thinking internalize the power of AND thinking.
In business, leaders know about the benefits of transitioning from “or” thinking to “AND” thinking. Doug Conant, retired CEO of Campbell’s Soup, notes in an interview that “…’or’ thinking reflects a scarcity mindset. For example, forcing a choice between short-term sales targets and building long-term potential is scarcity thinking.”
Below are guidelines to help you create and bolster abundance thinking and an abundance mentality.
Understand that while things will happen that you can’t control, you must be responsible to choose the proper attitude that will enable you to deal effectively with whatever obstacles fall in front of you.
By taking responsibility, you recognize all available choices. And remember, at the very least, no one can ever steal from you your ability to choose your attitude.
Give Away What You Want
Many believe that the most effective way to create abundance thinking and build an abundance mentality is to give away that which you want. Anything that you give away, you had to have possessed in the first place. By giving it away, you realize the simple fact that since you were able to give it away — you had it to begin with.
Zen Habits offers an extreme example of this. The writer decides, “I’m granting full permission to use any of my content on Zen Habits or in my ebook, “Zen To Done,” in any way you like. I release my copyright on this content. From now on, there is no need to email me for permission. Use it however you want! Email it, share it, reprint it with or without credit. Change it around, put in a bunch of swear words and attribute them to me. It’s OK. :)”
New research shows [PDF] that volunteering our time raises our perception of “time affluence,” meaning the more time we volunteer — the more time we believe we have.
Treating yourself on occasion (and in moderation) also can help encourage abundance thinking. The key to making this work is to treat yourself to something small that will make you feel good about yourself.
Reflect on the Abundance You Do Have
Habituate yourself to dedicating some of your spare time to reflecting on what you do have an abundance of in your life. This should be a regular habit but also something you train yourself to automatically do when that scarcity mentality is getting a grip on you.
Think about the summer when you were 17 — an idyllic moment in your youth when you felt like you were on top of the world.
You can get there again.
Success stories provide us with proof of the benefits of abundance thinking. There will always be those who started off worse, had a more difficult life than you, but who achieved greater success in the end. And there are those who somehow found the strength to do something truly heroic and inspiring.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t — you’re right.” ~ Henry Ford
Never underestimate the magical power of AND. Embrace abundance thinking today — and watch the sun rise on your tomorrow.
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