The Abundant World v. the Limited World is something I think about from time to time.
There are an infinite number of ways you can divide up the people of the world, and almost as many ways of dividing up their point of view. But a worthwhile way is to look at the difference in view between believers in an abundant world and believers in a limited world.
Abundant world viewers believe there is an infinite supply of stuff to go round- what shortages we have will tend to sort themselves out.
Limited world viewers see everything in short supply- so much so that if one person gets ahead, even in a completely different field, the limited world viewer sees that as a setback, one less opportunity for him, or her.
Clearly the abundant world view can be attacked easily. There very definitely was a shortage of wood in the 16th century that was only overcome when coal began to be mined in Europe extensively. Wood was limited not infinite in supply. But this is a sneaky kind of attack on abundantism, if one can call it that, because the abundantist will argue- as wood ran out coal miraculously appeared. Similarly it looks as if the rising price of oil, spurred on by diminishing easy availability of oil will spur on development of other energy sources such as solar and wind power as well as encourage greater energy efficiency.
The key to the abundant position is taking as wide and flexible a world view as possible.
If you want to be a limited viewer just take a short term inflexible position.
One example- traffic chokes many of our major cities. Sitting for one or two hours a day grinding along in low gear is not uncommon now whereas it was perhaps forty years ago. This is especially true for the growing cities of the developing world- Calcutta, Cairo, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. From a limited perspective freedom to travel is getting limited. But take a wider view. Over the last forty years life has speeded up immeasurably- instant information via the net, cheap air travel to everywhere, mobile phones and satellite technology allowing everyday communication across continents. People have likewise grown impatient and used to this speed- so being forced to chill out in a traffic jam is a corrective. It also allows you time to listen to taped books, music, and if you are fortunate enough to be driven by another- to read and use the internet. Things balance out, feedback goes from the material- lack of space on the roads- to the psychological- building patience and tolerance.
In the abundant world there is only creativity not competition. One door shuts and another opens- usually to a better opportunity. One thing leads to another- again, often a bigger and better opportunity. You only have to do the work of reaching out and firmly taking hold of that opportunity.
It is perfectly possible to lifeshift without having an abundant world viewpoint, but it’s harder. Mainly because it shuts down the creative faculty.
In a totally creative frame of mind any problem is soluble- now this cannot be true- but the frame of mind feels it to be so. And with this surge of optimism usually comes a solution. The abundant world view says- there is a solution out there, there is no shortage of whatever you seek.
The limited worldview automatically switches emphasis from creative responses to a problem to taking what exists from someone else.
There is a kind of continuum from:
One can invent the hula hoop and make millions. Or copy the hula hoop and try and cash in on countries that haven’t seen it yet. Or use lawyers to ban hula hoops and then set up your own factory as the one selling the only legal hoops. Or steal hula hoops by force and sell them and keep the money.
All businesses are somewhere on this spectrum. Those who believe in an abundant world will be closer to the creative end than the theft end.
In the end I can only say it is far from easy to shift one’s world view- I know- for years I had the view the world was limited, there wasn’t enough to go round and anyman who got ahead was somehow, obscurely depriving me and my family of our rightful needs.
Crazy and paranoid as that sounds it is borne out by many psychological tests. From a wide sample people preferred that everyone receive the same salary increase rather than they get a higher one and a few others get an even higher one that that. Inflation was to be discounted. So people would rather be equally worse off than better off with a few even better off than them.
Give not get- a psychological reason for adopting this posture
In an abundant world it’s easier to adopt a giving rather than getting attitude. Now though this is socially very commendable that isn’t the reason for adopting it. A giving attitude shifts your mindset into command of your situation. If you give away 2,3 or 10% of you income to others then you are stating IN ACTIONS NOT WORDS I am in control of my financial situation, and being in control of your finances is in most cases a large part of being in comfortable with your life.
How to develop and abundant world mentality.
First you need to see it’s a possibility. Do this by trying to identify, without judgement, feedback loops at work in the world. Try to see a feedback loop in the widest sense. For example, extinction. Several species become extinct each year and this rate may be increasing. We don’t know. What we do know is that only one tenth of all species have actually been discovered. Granted these are mainly insects and fish- but that is an incredible number given the common viewpoint ‘that science knows everything about the natural world already’. Even if some species go extinct they will never ever match the huge number waiting out there to be discovered. Read Nobel prize winner E.O.Wilson's Diversity of Life for more on this.
You have to see the ultility of having an abundant worldview.
You have to see that you are being more not less realistic by being abundantly minded.
You can aid this by gravitating towards areas that superficially seem more abundant than others- for example there is no foreseeable end to the number and variety of computer programs that could be written and sold. Once you have an abundant mindset you can see it everywhere. Steve, my friend who went from being a real estate guy to a film maker used to repeat his grandfather’s saying which was you can make money from anything- and his granddad proved it by turning waste stone material into a desirable gravel for house drives in Phoenix Arizona.
One can acquire the mentality of abundance by studying the way entrepreneurs use certain ‘moves’ to optimise money making potential. Richard Branson famously ran a student magazine as a very young man. In one advertisement he offered cheap records he obtained from abroad. There was a huge response to this advertisement. He shut the magazine and started a record store- Virgin. In other words he moved towards the abundancy generating opportunities. Moving towards greater abundancy increases the ability to see abundancy.
Neuroscientists always say about the brain- what fires together wires together- by behaving as if the world is abundant- providing generous dinners for others, always paying the bill, not seeking self-benefits but providing help for others you actually start rewiring your brain into a greater awareness of abundancy.
Buckminster Fuller suffered many setbacks as a young inventor. Finally in desperation he reviewed his whole life and saw that the more selflessly he acted the more successful he was. He made a rule that he should seek to increase his responsibility to cover as many as possible, not just himself. His incredible success in later life can be dated from the change in thinking just of himself to focusing on benefiting as many as possible. He created a link in his brain to abundance when he saw there was no shortage of people out there he could be responsible for- and by his own observation that meant there could be no shortage of success. Which is abundant thinking.
Think of the Norwegian coastline- a famous example from fractal geometry- it is possible to infinitely increase the Norwegian coastline on a map by adding fjords to fjords to fjords. The basic shape stays the same but the line around the coast just gets longer and longer. Abundant thinking is like that- by moving closer or further away from your subject you can generate infinite possibilities.