Living in a world of abundance
Living in the first world means living in abundance. We don't need to walk 50 km to the next source of fresh water. We don't have to hunt wild animals and hope that we will get lucky, so our tribe will get fed that day. Today, we have supermarkets and megastores packed with food and appliances that we don't need. Especially, in the abundant amounts that they are presented to us. It's what we are used to and rely on every day of the week. But here is the challenge with that...
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Here is where the whole abundance vs. scarcity mindset becomes an issue. The news about COVID-19 have created panic and a lot of people's brains are constantly in fight or flight response. When that happens our brains shuts down certain areas which are responsible for our rational thinking (frontal lobes and prefrontal cortex) to use the extra energy for making quick decisions. The amygdala (part of the limbic system also called the "lizard brain" - which processes our emotions) takes over and overrules logical thought processes. Even worse, once this process begins it can take up to several hours to fully recover from it.
Stress and panic prevent us from making rational decisions!
When we are in survival mode, we don't think about long term effects on our communities. We just do what we think it takes to stay alive. Our focus is on eliminating threats to our life, not society as a whole. One of the results of that is empty shelves in the shops.
"What if the shops won't open tomorrow? I better stack up on everything I need."
The scarcity mindset
All of us are brainwashed into a scarcity mindset on a daily basis. Be it the news, commercials or the bills we have to pay. Our whole society seems to be divided into winners and losers. The ones that have it all and the ones that have to work four jobs to make it from one week to the next.
And that's exactly what is happening in all of our brains, right now. We shut down our prefrontal cortex and forget or chose to ignore that there are other people out there, that rely on the same abundance that we take advantage of. The situation turns into a "you or me" scenario (winners and losers). Obviously, everyone wants to be on the wining team. Unfortunately, seeing empty shelves reinforces this feeling and the whole thing starts spiralling out of control. Scarcity mindset puts society in a very bad place. On top of that, our mirror neurons tell us that we should behave the same way that everyone around us does. All of a sudden there is competition.
"If that guy is buying 10 packs of TP, so will I. Otherwise, I will be on the loser side when s%*t hits the fan!"
It was really hard for me to resist giving in to the "Me first" mindset, seeing all these worried people in the shop. That's why I want to share a little trick with you that helped me to to avoid the fight or flight response...
The power of gratitude
So how do we balance out this whole abundance vs. scarcity mindset thing?
Practicing gratitude is a good idea no matter what the circumstances are. In times of pandemic panic though, it's necessary to keep calm and avoid your amygdala hijacking your brain. Every morning I close my eyes for 15 - 20 mins (5 - 10 mins is a good starting point, if you never meditated before) and think about 3 - 5 things I have experienced that I am grateful for. I try to remember how it made me feel in that moment, I try to recall this experience as detailed as I can. Because the mind doesn't know the difference between a thought and reality. Next I think of 3 - 5 things I own, that I'm grateful for. I remind myself how I felt when i first got them, what it took me to being able to afford them, and what positive impact it had and still has on my life. Reminding myself that I am living in an abundant world and showing gratitude for the little things strengthens my resilience when it comes to avoiding the scarcity mindset.
What would a "Bass Player At Heart" do?
In last week's blog post I wrote about the idea of copying what a bass player does in a band and applying it to what we all should do in our communities (and our global society). A "Bass Player At Heart" lays down the foundation for everyone else to build on top. A " Bass Player At Heart" is the backbone of society. It's the nurses, the garbage men, the farmers and factory workers. Unfortunately, these people are often looked down on. But without them, we wouldn't even have shelves to fill with products in the first place.
The good news is, you don't have to quit your job and take on a profession that might not fulfil you. All it takes is a little mindset shift. With every action you take ask yourself:
1. What problem does my action/behaviour solve?
2. What consequences will this have for society?
3. What would happen if everyone in the world would act the same way?"
Lead by example
For example, I frequently see people throwing trash on the floor. Although there is a bin only a few steps away. It's not that those people are bad people. Most of them simply don't know any better. Monkey see, monkey do. By being a good role model (picking up that person's trash and putting it into the bin, without being resentful and judgemental) we can plant a seed of change. Let's be honest, nobody likes to judged and then told what to do. So if you really want change, you gotta do it yourself. And if you do it often enough, you will inspire others to do the same without ever asking them to. Just like a bass player who play fills every 2 bars won't get offered a solo slot
So when you go to the store next time. Lead by example and leave something on the shelves for everyone else. We won't be running out of supplies that quickly. Keep your calm and ask yourself the 3 questions. The only way to get through this type of crisis is if we do it together. Forget nationalities, religions or other artificial separators. Humans depend on other humans. We are tribal beings. Unless you are Bear Grylls, of course. But I'm sure even he is glad that there is a society to come back to after his survival challenges.
So keep that abundant society alive.
It's is our chance to prove ourselves worthy of inhabiting this planet!
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Love & Bass
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