In the spiritual and personal development world, we hear a lot about “abundance mindset” as the antidote to a mindset of scarcity or lack.
Time, money, energy, opportunities — the message is to view all of these as abundant, rather than scarce.
What’s interesting is that these same teachers who speak about abundance mindset also hit us with messages about where we are lacking. Our inboxes and social media feeds are filled with messages telling us we need to uplevel our skills, do more, be more.
The implicit message is that we are missing something. We aren’t where we should be or could be. We are not enough.
In his book Sabbath, Wayne Muller writes that “abundance” mindset is really a response to a fear of scarcity. Afraid of not having enough, we reach for more than we need.
He writes that belief in abundance is a belief in scarcity.
The true antidote to scarcity, therefore, is not abundance, but sufficiency — the belief that what we have is enough.
This concept stopped me in my tracks when I first read it. It forced me to press pause on what I thought was an empowering mindset and reconsider how to truly rewrire a scarcity mindset.
(Scarcity mindset, by the way, is natural: it’s our survival instinct at work.)
The Sufficiency Mindset
As I considered this point, I realized that a “sufficiency mindset” applies not just to what we have or acquire, but who we are and where we are in our journey through life.
What if there was nothing you needed? What if your current skills were sufficient? What if you were in exactly where you need to be?
This doesn’t mean that you can’t up-level, or that you shouldn’t want to. It doesn’t mean you can’t look at where you are and desire to be in a different place. Growth is also a fundamental human need.
If you’re always looking to where you want to be, or who you want to be, or what you don’t have, you end up chasing a horizon that is always just out of reach.
If you’re always looking at how you can improve, you never feel like you’re enough as you are.
And if you’re always looking at where you want to be, you’ll never arrive in the present moment.
Ironically, it is the constant striving for more that causes us to miss opportunities; we miss out on the opportunity to learn from where we are now and who we are now.
The Challenge of Sufficiency
This concept of sufficiency and “enough” can be hard to embrace if you’re a person who strives for constant improvement, or if where you are feels like a “bad” place.
It may be true that your ultimate path will take you to a different place, that you are destined to be more than you are right now.
But here’s a question to consider: if you can’t arrive in the place where you are right now, how will you arrive at the place where you’re going?
Although we want to celebrate who we are becoming, it’s also important to celebrate and honor who we are and where we are now.
Sufficiency allows us to rest in the moment, in the knowledge that what we have, who we are, and where we are is enough.
How to Cultivate Sufficiency
The shift from scarcity to sufficiency, from deficient to enough, is simple.
It requires only the ritual of gratitude.
As the writer Melody Beattie said,
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more.
In the same way, when we are grateful for who we are and where we are, we realize that we are enough and that we are in exactly the right place in our journey.
Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It’s a day to pause and consider what we are grateful for. As we consider our gratitude, we often default to listing what we have, and the people in our lives. This is certainly important.
But what if we also give thanks for where we are right now and who we are.
Celebrate your sufficiency. Know that you are enough.