Abundance vs. Scarcity Mindset: Which Do You Have?

by | Nov 14, 2022 | Personal Development

There are two main mindsets: scarcity and abundance.  

Scarcity mindset is being threatened when someone else gets a piece of pie because you assume there is a finite amount of pie … and if that person has pie, there certainly isn’t enough for you.  

Abundance mindset is knowing that there’s more than one pie in the world. And even if you don’t get some of THIS pie, there will be more pie in the future. With an abundance mindset, you are so happy that person got some pie … they deserved it!  

In 1989, Stephen Covey released a small book called “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” in which he describes these two mindsets. Along with the other advice in the book, Covey blew the world’s collective mind with the idea that when you change the way you look at the world, it can help you to become more happy, effective, and fulfilled.  

Since then, the book has been translated into over 40 languages and sold 25 million copies while continuing to be a guidebook for those looking to improve their lives. It’s worth the read.  

An image of a pie with one piece missing. It is covered in streusel, and there are apples, a knife, and some butter nearby.

What’s the Difference Between Scarcity and Abundance? 

Remember the pie? That’s the main difference. It’s how you view the world’s opportunities and available resources. Scarcity mindset teaches that there is a set amount of “stuff” (jobs, money, beauty, peace, etc.), and when it’s gone, there is no more. 

Covey wrote, “Most of us approach situations with the win-lose mentality. ‘Winning’ means somebody else loses.”  

He goes on to say we are conditioned into this mentality through athletic competitions, academic grading curves, and ranking systems in general. Scarcity mindset demands that one team must win, while abundance mindset hopes everyone wins and has a good time. 

“We look at life through the glasses of win-lose, and if we fail to develop self-awareness, we spend our lives competing for ‘dimes’ instead of cooperating for ‘dollars,’” Covey said.   

A ripped coffee cup is lying on the ground with several pennies visible inside of it.

Recognizing the Scarcity Mindset 

“Often, people with a Scarcity Mentality harbor secret hopes that others might suffer misfortune—not terrible misfortune, but acceptable misfortune that would keep them ‘in their place,’” Covey said. “They’re always comparing, always competing. They give their energies to possessing things or other people in order to increase their sense of worth.” 

Scarcity mindset is rooted in self-interest. It’s inward facing and asking, “what’s in it for me?” It’s a default for many of us, and you may not even recognize it, and that’s okay! Awareness is the first step to change.  

Scarcity mindset manifests in feelings like: 

  • Jealousy 
  • Limitation 
  • Excuses 
  • Justification 
  • Procrastination 
  • Failure 
  • Inequality 
 A yellow circle has a white smiley face inside of it. There is a white arrow pointing to the circle and someone is standing on it with white shoes.

Recognizing the Abundance Mindset 

Of the abundance mindset, Covey said, “There’s plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. An Abundance Mentality involves sharing prestige, recognition, profits, and decision making. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.”  

Abundance mindset is forgetting about “me” and focusing on the “we.” It’s outward facing in all situations and helping everyone reach their potential so we can achieve more. 

Abundance mindset looks like: 

  • Having hope during tough situations 
  • Rejoicing in other’s success 
  • Rising after disappointments and trying again 
  • Helping others 

Abundance mindset isn’t a guarantee that you won’t have the same trials as when you had a scarcity mindset … it’s changing how you react to them. It’s seeing the opportunity in the struggle and the reason to keep fighting. 

A neon sign is lit up with the words "This is the sign you've been looking for."

What to Do About It 

Abundance mindset is the clear choice. But that doesn’t mean you can always change suddenly like flipping a switch … it takes work to shift the way you think about the world. The good news is you can do it, even if you’ve been stuck in scarcity your whole life.  

Do you want to change your mindset? There are a few recommended ways to change from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset: 

There’s no way you will just wander into an abundance mindset garden if you are sitting in a scarcity mindset desert … you need to take action to change. But these actions don’t have to be overwhelming. Try to be one percent better every day and you can make exponential changes in your life.  

Increase your focus and decrease distractions by reading our blog, here.