Moving From Scarcity To Abundance

Moving from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset helps you progress up the hierarchy of needs to self-actualization. You must experience having enough at the lower levels of physical and emotional needs in order to move to higher levels and towards self-actualization.

moving from scarcity to abundance

How Many Tomato Seeds?

The presenter at a conference held up a ripe red tomato. She asked the audience, “How many seeds are in this tomato?”

The participants imagined cutting open a tomato and tried to estimate the number of seeds inside. They began calling out answers. “500”, “700”, “1000”, “5000”, “10,000”.

Quietly, the presenter said: “There are enough. Enough to save for planting next year and enough to give to my neighbors so they can have tomatoes as well. Next year, they’ll have enough seeds to share with more people. And I will share with others, too. How many seeds are there? Enough.” [1]

Abundance Mindset Vs. Scarcity Mindset

We see the world in different ways and the way we look at the world shapes our reality. In terms of having enough, if we have a scarcity mindset, we see that there is not enough to go around. If one person takes more than “their share”, it leaves less for the rest of us. Often the person with a scarcity mindset considers it necessary to “look out for number 1” . . . if you don’t grab what you need, someone else will get it.

On the other hand, an abundance mindset sees that there is more than enough for everyone. Dr. Stephen Covey said: “It is the paradigm that there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody… It opens possibilities, options, alternatives and creativity.” [Covey] It removes any need for grasping and hoarding because we see that there is plenty to go around.

If you tend to see the world from a scarcity point of view, and you want to change that, consider these ideas.

Be Thankful For What You Have

One step in moving from scarcity to abundance is to express gratitude. Be thankful for what you have. “If you look at what you have in life,” said Oprah Winfrey, “you’ll always have more. If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” [Castrillon]

To become more mindful of all the good things you have, practice gratitude in specific ways. According to the VIA Institute On Character, gratitude comes in two forms: “benefit-triggered” gratitude, when you are thankful for a specific benefit you receive from someone and “generalized gratitude”, when you appreciate all that is valuable and meaningful to you. [“Gratitude”] Both help us be aware of and to appreciate all we have to be thankful for.

Don’t Hang Out With Scarcity-Minded People

Author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Whether this is strictly true or not, it is the case that we are strongly influenced by those around us. For example, studies have found that you are at a greater risk of gaining weight if your friends are overweight. [Kolata]

If you hang out with scarcity-minded people, you are at risk of developing the scarcity mindset as well. “… steer away from people who don’t have a reserve,” advises Thomas Leonard. They are a risk – sad but true. [Leonard] Be observant of the friends and co-workers you see living from abundance and begin spending more time with them.

Learn How To Have More

“When Jesus had finished speaking, he told Simon, ‘Row the boat out into the deep water and let your nets down to catch some fish.’

“‘Master,’ Simon answered, ‘we have worked hard all night long and have not caught a thing. But if you tell me to, I will let the nets down.’ They did it and caught so many fish that their nets began ripping apart. Then they signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. The men came, and together they filled the two boats so full that they both began to sink.” Luke 5: 4-7 (CEV)

In order to have more, you must learn how to accept more and to manage more. Otherwise, your “nets will start ripping apart” and you will be unable to hang on to any extra that comes your way.

A person who earns $50,000 per year and believes that is what he or she is worth will not likely get more. And if he does, he will most likely find a way to fritter it away or lose it, until he again moves back into congruence with his belief about what he is worth. To have more, you must see yourself as worth more.

Statistics show that about a third of lottery winners become bankrupt in three to five years. (CFPBS). [Hart] In many cases, this is because they have not learned how to manage more. You must learn to accept and manage what you have to prepare for having more. As the master said to the servant, “Well done, you good and faithful servant! You have been faithful in managing small amounts, so I will put you in charge of large amounts.” (Matthew 25:23 Good News Translation)

Move From Scarcity To Abundance

Here are three exercises you can do to begin putting these ideas into action.

  1. Express gratitude with a “gratitude visit”. Write a letter of gratitude thanking someone for something she (or he) did. Be specific about the action and how it affected you. Tell her how you often remember what she did for you. Then, call the person and tell her you’d like to have a visit but don’t go into details about the reason. (It’s more fun when it’s a surprise.) When you meet, read your letter to her. If she starts to interrupt, tell her you really want her to listen till you are done. After you read your letter, discuss the contents and how you feel about each other. “You will be happier and less depressed one month from now,” advises Martin Seligman. [Seligman]
  2. Remove yourself from scarcity minded people. Begin to notice who among your circle of family, friends, and colleagues has an abundance mindset and who has an outlook of scarcity. Limit your time of interacting with the scarcity minded individuals and look for ways to spend more time around those with an abundance mindset.
  3. Become master of small things. Get a handle on your spending. Track your expenses for one month . . . everything from the car payment to the soft drink you buy on the way home from work. The more accurate you make this, the more insight you will gain. When you have a picture of your monthly expenditures, look for patterns of mindless spending and spending habits you may have been unaware of. See if you can trim 5% from your discretionary spending. Beginning putting that amount into a long-term emergency fund.

Moving Up The Hierarchy

Abraham Maslow first described his “hierarchy of needs” in 1943 and refined it during subsequent years. [“Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs.”] The model describes human needs as a hierarchy or pyramid. At the lower levels are the basic needs for air, food, water, shelter, and safety. These must be satisfied in order to move up the pyramid through love and belonging, esteem and respect, till one reaches the top of self-actualization: to become the most that one can be.

Moving from scarcity to abundance in each of these areas, from our basic physical needs to our needs for love, respect, and esteem, and building reserves of resources in each area, gives us the means to move toward self-actualization, to fulfill our purpose in service to the world. And that is embracing the Excelerated Life™!

Excelerated Reserves™ — moving from scarcity to abundance — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of flourishing and well-being and a life of meaning, purpose and service.

Read more about the Excelerated Life™.


[1] I adapted the “tomato story” from “‘The Tomato Story’ And Shifting From Scarcity To Abundance In Half A Day” By Gloria Ferris, Community Organization Consultant and Contractor, and a Director at The Institute for Open Economic Networks. [See Resources.]


Castrillon, Caroline. “How To Shift From A Scarcity To An Abundance Mindset.” Thrive Global. Thrive Global, August 10, 2018. Web. May 26, 2020.

Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1989

Ferris, Gloria. “’The Tomato Story’ And Shifting From Scarcity To Abundance In Half A Day.” I-OPEN. The Institute for Open Economic Networks, October 16, 2015. Web. May 26, 2020.

“Gratitude.” Character Strengths / All 24 Character Strengths / Gratitude. VIA Institute on Character, . Web. May 26, 2020.

Hart, Ryan. “What Percentage of Lottery Winners Go Broke?” Ryan Hart., December 3, 2018. Web. May 26, 2020.

Kolata, Gina. “Obesity Spreads To Friends, Study Concludes.” The New York Times. The New York Times Company, July 25, 2007. Web. May 26, 2020.

Leonard, Thomas. The 28 Laws Of Attraction. New York: Scribner, 1998.

“Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs.” Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., May 30, 2020. Web. May 24, 2020.

Seligman, Ph.D., Martin E. P. Flourish. New York: Free Press, 2011.

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