Right outside the window where I have worked for the past months is a birdfeeder. The birdfeeder stays full of a wide variety of bird seed and draws a wide variety of birds. I’ve noticed that some types of birds – provided there is no imminent threat (like a neighborhood cat) – just plop down and eat. They don’t seem to care who eats next to them or how many are eating. These are the abundance birds.
Another type of bird, however, spends a good bit of its time and energy chasing away other birds. They do eat, but it is more of a hurried snack between flights to fend off others. These are the scarcity birds. While the abundance birds enjoy a relaxed meal, the scarcity birds dash in, grab a bite, and then rush off in their high anxiety flight to keep other birds away.
I’ve noticed a lot of people are like this too. The scarcity people get what they can get when they can get it cause it’s going to get gone. They spend as much or more energy keeping other people away as they do getting for themselves. Whatever they do get, they keep it tightly fisted.
The abundance of people don’t worry about keeping others out. These people tend to have an open hand.
Mother Teresa shares a story about taking a parcel of rice to a poor family in Calcutta who had been starving for many days. On receiving the parcel of rice, the starving mother divided the parcel in half and took it to her neighbor. Open hand.
in Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl shares stories about men in concentration camps who shared their last piece of bread. Open hand.
It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how much bread (or birdseed) there is. The scarcity birds and the abundance birds in fact receive the same amount of birdseed. It seems to have everything to do with attitude. It seems to have everything to do with whether you are the type of person who sees the world through the lens of scarcity or the type of person who sees the world through the lens of abundance.
Which are you?