How do you lead your life, with a scarcity mentality or with an abundance mentality?
I have a grandfather who lived in Russia during World War II. He knows what it means to be hungry. He also knows what it means not to know where your next piece of bread will be coming from in the morning. I would think that someone who has gone through such an experience would hold on to every piece of bread very tightly. What’s most interesting is that out of this experience my grandfather shares every bit of food that he has with others. He even funded a restaurant that was run by my grandmother which consistently lost money every month. The food was great and every schlepper that walked in off the street was given a free meal. So here’s a man who was raised in an environment of extreme scarcity and yet he lives with an abundance mentality.
It’s interesting how many of us who live with abundance lead our lives with a scarcity mentality. We are terrified of giving. What happens if nothing is left for me? This contrasts greatly with those who have truly experienced scarcity in their lives and yet they live with an abundance mentality. They are the first ones to give and they give abundantly. How do you lead your life, with a scarcity mentality or with an abundance mentality? This doesn’t only pertain to food or money. This pertains to how generous we are with compliments, with sharing productive ideas, with giving our full attention and with giving others the space to shine.
The context of our lives can either be lived in a giving mode or in a taking mode. Benjamin Franklin said that a penny saved is a penny earned. On a very basic level, this seems correct. Every penny we spend is one penny less for us and every penny we save is one more penny more for us. However, when we look a little deeper, we know this not to be true. Every businessman knows that in order to make money you need to spend money. So we invest and spend money and only through spending do we begin making. So we suddenly realize that giving is what enables us to take even more. Let’s take this a step further. It is not only important to invest our money but even more important to invest and give of ourselves. Many businesses today have a policy that the customer is always right. Many stores take back returns with no questions asked. In other words, they are entirely there for the customer. They act with abundance grace. Nordstrom, the well-known chain department store, is well-known for an incident where they took back a product which their store didn’t even sell. The best way to get someone to be committed to you is by showing your commitment to them. Again, by beginning with ourselves and demonstrating commitment we suddenly experience commitment from others.
I was taught this concept on an even more spiritual level. Whatever it is that you want to get, you should be the model of by giving to others. Judaism teaches that when someone is struggling with making a living, there is something they can do that is meritorious for them to be blessed with making a better living. Can you guess what that is? Yes, it’s giving charity. Here’s the concept. You’re short on money. So what should you do? Give away your money. Who would have ever thought? I’m actually pretty uncomfortable giving this advice to people. I’m concerned that they’ll think I lost my mind. I’m concerned the person might say, “Did you just hear what I said? I don’t have enough money. Now you’re telling me to give it away?” And the response is yes, giving is the greatest seed to plant if you want an abundant harvest.
Of course, this is exactly how it works in our relationships. Classically, when things are not working out with a couple, they both show up at the marriage counselor with their complaints. He doesn’t do this for me, she doesn’t do that for me. He should be saying this, she should be doing that. We are very focused on what the other person should be doing. We are missing the point entirely. The best way to turn around a relationship is simply by changing how we give to the other person. Outside of extreme situations, by focusing more on what the other needs and by giving even more to them we create the natural feeling within the other to reciprocate. Interestingly, one of the classic ways of marketing is by giving value to people for free. How is that going to help me sell my product? When people receive things for free they feel obligated to reciprocate. This is why they will be more willing to purchase your products. And this is exactly how it is in relationships. You may be thinking, “By giving him more I’m creating a bigger narcissist.” Most often this is not the case. When we dedicate ourselves to being there for another consistently, until they know that we are unconditionally dedicated to them, we suddenly discover an entirely new person.
Then there’s a completely different level of giving. It’s when we simply let go completely. It’s when we forget about ourselves entirely. It’s when we devote ourselves entirely to the other without any thoughts for how this is going to bounce back to us. While living in this state constantly may be unrealistic, there are definitely moments during our life that we can give in this way. This is the most beautiful giving a person can do.
Here’s the good news. The A-lmighty is an infinite being. His resources are unlimited. He invests in every single one of us, investing in each of us different gifts. Everything he invests in us is for the purpose of us giving it out and make the world a better place. If you were to give your money to an investor to invest for you and you did not get a good return on your investment, would you continue giving your money to that investor? Or would you seek out an investor who gives you a good return on your investment? The A-lmighty is just the same. He invests in every single one of us, quite abundantly I may add, and he watches what we do with His investment. When we hold it tight by our chest with a scarcity mentality and the great fear that we will lose it if we use it, the A-lmighty is not making good on his investment. When He sees that we have faith in His infinite being and we accept the purpose that He is investing in us, then we develop in abundance mentality. And the more we make good on His investment, the more he invests in us. And then there are those moments, those rare and beautiful moments when we are reminded of what the A-lmighty does constantly at every moment of the day. He gives and gives and gives and gives to a vast and enormous universe endlessly. And then we become inspired and we give simply to give, because there is, at the end of the day, nothing more beautiful than giving.