Scarcity Taxes Your Brain, Altering Your Thinking and Behavior

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Scarcity comes in many forms:

  • Financial Scarcity – Poverty or Living Paycheck to Paycheck is the Most Common Form
  • Time Scarcity – Working Long Hours or Pressing Deadlines
  • Willpower Scarcity – AKA Willpower Depletion. Scarcity of Energy/Motivation.
  • Food Scarcity – Intentional Food Scarcity is caused by Short-Term Dieting. Unintentional Food Scarcity Caused by Poverty
  • Mental Scarcity – Stress: Pressing Work/Family/Social Matters, Fights/Conflicts with Family Members, Co-Workers, Friends, Neighbors, etc.

The Bad Part of Scarcity

When you experience Scarcity, dealing with that Scarcity completely consumes the Brain’s limited Bandwidth, leaving little Bandwidth for anything else. Scarcity creates a sense of urgency and forces you to focus on eliminating the Scarcity, forcing you to ignore everything else – family, friends, children, recreation and many other things, which take a backseat when you are dealing with Scarcity.

Because Scarcity forces you to focus on managing the Scarcity in the here and now, you shut out and neglect everything else. This is called “Tunneling”.

When you are in the throes of “Tunneling”, the future is not a pressing matter. Because Scarcity uses up all of the Brain’s Bandwidth, long-term planning takes a backseat to the present need to manage the Scarcity. It’s simply impossible to deal with the future when you are consumed with the present. Today problems take precedence over tomorrow problems, due to the Brain’s limited Bandwidth.

Scarcity creates stress. For those who have to deal with long-term Scarcity, such as the poor, this stress becomes Chronic Stress.

Scarcity taxes your patience and your tolerance. Scarcity causes you to become less tolerant of spouses, children, friends and co-workers, which damages those relationships. Because poor parents have less Bandwidth, they have less patience and tolerance in dealing with their children. Homework takes a backseat and TV becomes a refuge for parents, occupying their children and giving poor parents time to deal with the Scarcity or to recover from dealing with the Scarcity. Long-term poverty, therefore, causes parents to become disconnected from their children. Because chronically poor parents are consumed with Scarcity, they have no available Bandwidth to devote time to mentoring their children.

Scarcity reduces your persistence and dedication. It forces you to shift your focus away from current pursuits in order to put out the fires Scarcity creates.

Scarcity makes you more impulsive. Because Scarcity taxes the Brain’s Bandwidth and causes Willpower Depletion, you have less self-control, causing impulsive behavior.

Relationships take a backseat, when dealing with Scarcity. It’s much harder to socialize when you are dealing with Scarcity.

The Good Part of Scarcity

When Scarcity captures your mind, you become more focused and efficient and make fewer errors. Chronic Scarcity makes you an Expert in managing the limited resources that are creating the Scarcity.

For those dealing with Financial Scarcity (Poverty), they become more efficient in managing the limited financial resources they have. They clip coupons, hunt for price reductions and discounts and are able to stretch a dollar much further. The Poor constantly make trade-offs and do not waste their money.

For those dealing with Time Scarcity, they are forced to become more efficient in managing their time. They spend less time on time-wasting activities, such as watching TV, surfing the Internet or streaming videos. Time Scarcity forces you to focus like a laser. We’ve all experienced instances when we are faced with a deadline, such as an exam or a work project. When facing such deadlines, we are able to focus our minds at the exclusion of everything else, which increases productivity. For example, the last month of writing every one of my books was always my most productive month of writing.

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