10 Ways Scarcity is Good for You

And 1 way it is not

Photo by GRÆS Magazine on Unsplash

When I was 23 I joined the navy. During the training, we lived in the navy barracks, 7000 of us, and we weren’t allowed out.

It was like prison.

All I could see were men in uniform, nothing else. For weeks on end, there was no sensory stimulation, no trees, no girls, no music, and no rainbows. It was far too yang.

And yet, after the initial shock was over, we got used to the new scenario and even managed to enjoy the training and the camaraderie.

That kind of situation is quite unusual and I wouldn’t choose it voluntarily, however, I learned a few lessons there, particularly, how the mind reacts to scarcity situations.

In that case, the scarcity came from the lack of freedom, sensory deprivation and lack of choice, but there are many other examples of scarcity in which the limited availability of resources and shortness of supply, causes constraints and limits to the people involved.

Scarcity is bad. People forced to live in poverty, famine and lack have very tough lives. First-world citizens, don’t realize the damage that scarcity can do to people

However, for us, spoiled brats, scarcity can do a lot of good when we chose it voluntarily for a limited period of time.

Scarcity situations can be very unpleasant — hunger, poverty, war, prison, crisis — but not everything has to be negative about them.

It’s in situations of short supply when we raise to the occasion, we give our best and become very inventive.

The benefits of scarcity

In Cuba, it’s easy to find examples of how to make do with very limited resources. Due to the block on imports, there is a very limited supply of technological goods -machinery, tools, spare parts, etc

In response to that scarcity, the population has become very creative — most of the cars are from the ’50s and they make them work despite the lack of spare parts. In most advanced countries mechanics wouldn’t even know where to start without all the tools, original parts, and training given by the company. There is a trade-off between supply and inventiveness.

Give a child a stick and he will play for hours inventing different uses for it. Give her an Ipad and her creativity will go down to zero.

Technology makes us dumb. Every day, we outsource our thinking and let the machines manage our lives. We are losing very human skills like the ability to find our way, search our memories, or remember appointments.

When we are forced to survive without technology, we realize how hard it is and how our brains stretch to cover for the new demand. Taxi drivers in London have bigger brains than the rest of us, as a result of the rote memorization they have to undergo in order to pass “The Test”, while the rest of us are losing our ability to remember simple navigation.

Hunter-gatherers had a wide array of skills that helped them survive in any situation. We’ve lost most of those skills due to specialization and the comfort of modem society. While comfort is great, we could benefit from go back to basics for a while.

We take everything for granted, we behave like spoiled children. When the chardonnay is not cold, we throw a tantrum. Every now and then, it will do us good to visit places where people survive with just the basics.

When you have to rely on your body, you become very nimble and develop strength and flexibility. There is no obesity in the wild, the environment is too unforgiving for that. Survival training is a great experience for most people.

Voluntarily suppressing your food intake has many benefits for the mind and body. Not only it’s good for weight control, but it also cleans the body from cancer cells thanks to autophagy. Fasting has been linked to longevity.

By making distractions scarce, our concentration levels shot through the roof. Lock yourself in a room with pen and paper and you’ll create something of value. Remain surrounded by tech and entertainment and you’ll waste your life.

We have too many options, it’s difficult to focus. We spread ourselves too thin and therefore achieve nothing. When you can only do one thing, you’ll progress very quickly.

I participated in a silent retreat some time ago. For a few days, there was silence, meditation, basic food, and little else. When it was over I could see the world with new eyes — the colors, the sounds, the tastes — Living in abundance, we take everything for granted and don’t fully appreciate the beauty surrounding us. It just takes some time of sensory deprivation to be able to fully appreciate the miracles around us.

Negative aspects of scarcity

Living in scarcity can bring some benefits but it can also make some psychological damage. One of the pitfalls is the scarcity mentality.

Even for first-world citizens, the feeling of not being able to afford this or that, or the fear of becoming poor is a pervasive idea that becomes a limiting factor when trying to reach our full potential.

The scarcity mindset is this idea that life is a zero-sum game and there’s never enough money, food, jobs, or love to go around.

This mindset makes us live in fear, we hold tight to what we’ve got because we fear we won’t be able to create more.

People with a scarcity mentality suffers from loss aversion. They find it difficult to invest or risk anything, consequently, they miss out on the limitless opportunities life has to offer.

People coming from a place of lack, hold tight to their money because they think they’ll run out and never be able to make more.

The feeling of not being worthy of success pulls you down and destroy your chances of being happy.

Fear, attachment, and limiting beliefs are all part of the scarcity mentality.

Even if you have lived in abundance all your life, the message we get is: ”hold on to your money, your job, and your house, play safe, you never know what’s around the corner”


Life is abundant. Avoid the scarcity mentality. You have the potential to achieve anything you want if you don’t limit yourself.

However, depriving yourself of food, comfort, stimulation, distractions, and all the other vices, can be very beneficial for you and can help you appreciate life more.

Enjoy your life, have an abundant mentality but don’t be a spoiled brat continually complaining about your first world problems.

It’s good to have a rough time now and again, your body and mind will become more resilient in the process.

Embrace scarcity in moderation

Student of life. Trying to make sense of it all, be happy and help others achieve their dreams. Join me at: albertotheauthor@gmail.com

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