A curious aspect of the human condition is how we are much better at understanding scarcity than abundance. Our minds naturally gravitate toward what we do not have, instead of noticing what we possess. Some observers have astutely noticed that every abundance creates a new scarcity.
However, it is an interesting thought experiment to consider what our life would be like if the things that we currently consider to be the most scarce and expensive suddenly became abundant and cheap?A How would our perceptions of value and our priorities shift?A What things that we currently ignore would we begin to shift our attention toward?
The interesting twist is that this transition has already happened in the realm of information. Before the advent of the internet, information was scarce, expensive, and difficult to acquire. As the global online marketplace emerged, it created a situation where a literal wealth of information was available to all people in all places. Suddenly there was a flattening of access to a valuable commodity that had previously been the exclusive property of some, but almost completely unavailable to others?A How has our life changed since we all gained access to the insights and information of the internet?A What new things have we been able to learn?A What new insights have we been able to uncover?A How has our life been enriched?
Of course, there will certainly be those who point out the abundance of low quality content that prevails on the internet. These observations are completely correct, but are almost totally irrelevant. The presence of great abundance almost always means that the abundant resource will be wasted in some manner or another. Since many people grew up in a world of expensive information, it feels unnecessarily wasteful to have low quality information floating around the internet. The thing that most people miss is how this apparent waste is the laboratory out of which we gain new ideas and insights.
Growth and development is not a linear process. It is a jagged line that moves up and down, backward and forward. In order for great new things to happen, there must be the appropriate conditions for the new innovations to emerge. Abundance allows those conditions to occur without the necessity of being planned or funded by a central authority. By extension, this means that more experimentation happens with new ideas, and more innovative breakthroughs are discovered. Of course, this also means that many seemingly useless ideas will be advanced. However, this apparent ‘waste’ is actually a critical part of innovation and advances.
What Does Abundance Mean To Me?
An important point for us to consider as individuals is the impact to our persona lives if the things that we found the most scarce such as money and time, suddenly became ubiquitously available?A What would you do with your life if you never needed to work in order to live?A What would your life be like if people lived to be 500 years old?A How would your priorities change if a scarcity of today turned into an abundance of tomorrow?A What things that you neglect today would you notice tomorrow?
The reason why this thought exercise is important is because it helps us to clarify what we truly consider to be important. There are certainly some people who would allow themselves to become idle if they no longer needed to earn money to live, but there are many others who would endeavor to help others acquire the blessings that they have come to enjoy. When we no longer have to spin our wheels just to get by, it allows us pause to search for meaning.
The clincher is that most people seek meaning at some point in their life, and many wait for far too long before taking the intellectual journey. This is not to say that we should neglect the things that we need to do today such as earn an income or care for our families … only to say that we should also think of the things that we will pursue when scarcity turns into abundance. In truth, it frequently comes to pass that the things we perceive as being scarce today will be less scarce in the future, and may possibly be available in great abundance.
Each of us should take a moment to think about the things that we would want to do, and the person that we would want to be if the constraints of our present life were removed. The power of this thought process is that it underlines how there is very little stopping us from working toward that goal today. We may not live in a world with no scarcity, but we also do no live in a world of total scarcity. In this way, we literally have the ability to shape ourselves into the people that we want to be tomorrow … and we are able to start today.