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The Unexpected Benefits of Scarcity

The Unexpected Benefits of Scarcity

| July 01, 2019

   I enjoy a season of plenty as much as the next person.  You know those times of life when we have enough resources to accomplish what we need and to enjoy what we want can really be the best.  But what do we do with the stories from our elders who remember the lean days as “the good ole’ days”?  The days when things were scarce.

    Scarcity is a word that often brings up images of hunger, drought, poverty, and even despair.  In reality, all scarcity means is a perceived shortage of a desired resource.  In the west, we most often think about money when the word scarcity comes up.  In fact, our first thought in times of stress is often “how much will this cost to fix or solve”.   I want to remind us all that there are things of value that money can’t buy and real problems that money can’t solve.  Money is a tool – but not the only, or right, tool for all issues.

    Another interesting facet of our western culture is our strong sense of independence and individuality.  When my daughter was just learning to talk, she expressed this idea of rugged self-sufficiency by declaring “I do it mine by self!”  When you put these two ideas together, we can find ourselves isolated and overly reliant on financial wealth.

    The big idea for this article is that scarcity can be a powerful reminder of our need for inter-dependence.  As humans we deeply crave relationship and togetherness.  I believe we were created this way.  Since the beginning of time, people have come together to pool their skills, abilities, creativity, food, love, and support in order to form families, communities and even successful civilizations.  We thrive when we can count on each other to build together what can’t be built alone. 

    Why is it that when some people finally reach their goals (raising kids, retirement, career success, financial independence) they begin to separate from those they love to pursue the next thing?  While the reasons are certainly varied and complex, I would suggest part of the decision is based on no longer needing the others around them to meet their completed goal.  They don’t need others to be involved to meet their goals.  Ironically, our very success can isolate us and allow us to drift away from those we love and need. 

    In my practice, I am always encouraging our families to work together to create shared goals that are in alignment with their core values.  These are the things we build our lives, time and finances around.  They are not just about paying the bills and getting the kids fed (although both of those things are a good idea).  They are the things that help us grow together and develop an identity as a family that can last for generations. 

    I have always thought it cruel that young couples typically start out broke.  The first two years of marriage are typically difficult enough without all the financial challenges that come with starting from scratch.  But maybe this is the way it’s supposed to be.  Maybe these times of scarcity force them to draw closer and depend on one-another in ways that are much more difficult when they have all they need.

    Maybe you’re stressed about the money – maybe you just need a plan to get on the same page again – either way, let us help!