Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Are You Living A Life Worth Living? Part III

By Miriam B. Medina

This is part three of a three-part series examining how many people have been negatively affected by the current economic downturn. Part one examined the difficulties associated with living through an economic crisis. Part two explored ways to find inner peace to survive and move on, identifying and addressing The Stumbling Block of Fear and The Stumbling Block of Indecision that can hinder the search for peace and happiness. In this article we will address the final Stumbling block.

3. The Stumbling Block of the Scarcity Mentality

I can't believe that someone in this day and age would reject the idea of wanting to be prosperous. However, this is true. There are people who look at money as evil and see the rich as corrupt. They feel virtuous when they resent others who have more than they do, which makes them think what I termed in the above mentioned a Scarcity Mentality. By coveting what another person possesses, whether it's their lifestyle, their careers, their homes, their talents, their successes or their family life, they are impoverishing themselves with a continual consciousness of lack. They do not wish successful people well because they are consumed with jealousy. These individuals are so comfortable in their Scarcity Mentality that they only see themselves as poor. They are Martyrs to some Poverty Consciousness. This habit of resenting those who are rich or better off than they are limits them from expanding beyond the constraints of their own self, thus closing the door to new horizons and the possibility of wonderfully experiencing the same. How a person responds to the success of other people will demonstrate their state of mind. Maybe they think that the other person's considerable luck diminishes their own?

Nonetheless, there are individuals that feel life has not fallen in their favor, that they are victims of fate, accepting their lives living in poverty as their destiny. So in comparing their financial status with someone else's, that person's perception of prosperity is to blame and sponge off the successful person instead of working towards self-improvement. In other words, they try to get something for nothing, which makes them fit the description of a freeloader or moocher.

Sad to say, there are those who spend their lives anxiously and purposely waiting for a family member or relative to die to become rich in order to experience the easy life that they have always envied. The irony of this is that sometimes the individual who is supposed to die outlives the person who is waiting for their inheritance.

Let's not forget the individuals who scrimped and saved all their lives, depriving themselves of all the ordinary and happy pleasures of life in order to have a nest egg set aside. They look forward to a pleasant living in Florida, Hawaii or just spending their time traveling around the world enjoying their retirement. Sometimes it just doesn't happen as planned. However, since no one knows what the future holds or has any control over it, the possibilities of being incapacitated mentally or physically could occur. It can leave them to continue living in a nursing home, with the long-term care wiping out all of their savings which they accumulated over the years.

Then we have those people who hate to pay bills or real estate taxes, putting it off as long as possible, especially in these tough economic times. It bothers them to see their bank accounts dwindle, so when they reach for their check books, it is done with considerable reluctance.

The "Scarcity Mentality" was strongly practiced by my mama. My parents got married during the Great Depression. Poverty reigned in their home. In the years that followed the family increased, yet our lives remained the same, we lived in poverty even though the economy was better. There was never enough for us to eat. Sometimes our neighbor across the hall would give us her stale three-day old buns that she was going to throw out. We lived in a two bedroom apartment in East Harlem, New York, quite small for 9 people, my parents and us seven kids, of which I was the youngest. Even though, Papa worked as a refinisher in a furniture store, his earnings were meager. This made mama tighter fisted than ever. Frustrated with so many kids and having to stretch the dollar, she became a firm believer in the recycling of clothing. It was practiced all the time during our childhood years. Make due and mend was her argument when it came to the clothes and shoes that my brothers had worn. These clothes were passed down from one to the other. In any case, since the older ones were taller, the shorter ones would roll their "new" pants up at the waist. As for my sister and I, there was such a significant age difference that I couldn't wear her dresses. Sometimes I would end up wearing my brother Daniel's pants and shirt, since he was the youngest of the five boys and he was a little shrimp like me.

Mama was so conditioned to being thrifty, she would make us wear the worst and save our best clothes for Easter, Christmas and Sunday mass. Papa was a sociable person and of a generous nature. Papa would often invite his friends from the neighborhood to our tiny, crowded apartment, and have them stay for a meal. Mama would hit the roof each time. Her fiery personality seemed to overshadow Papa's, as she would vocalize her anger. "With planks between the chairs and nine mouths to feed, there is just not enough space or food for free-loaders," she would say. Mama's fear of poverty kept her from enjoying the things in life and from interacting with the people of the neighborhood. She was always afraid that there would never be enough food, drink, clothing or even money. The amazing thing about this was that after Papa's funeral, we never saw hide nor hair of these friends from the neighborhood again. I think they were afraid that mama would ask for a hand out, or they would have the burden of a widow and seven children thrust upon their hands.

Mama remained in that "Scarcity Mentality" for the rest of her life, even though she didn't have to stay that way. It hurt me so to see her do that. Arguing with mama was useless, since she was so set in her ways. I imagine after going through such terrible times during the Great Depression, it must have been trying for her to break old habits.

Taking That Step

To be able to enjoy a life that is worth living, one has to get rid of the Scarcity Mentality. We should give thanks for everything that we have. Instead of wasting our energies lamenting about what we are missing or what we once had, we need to pause and take inventory of all the things that we have been blessed with over the years. There are so many things, which have benefited us and enjoyed; such as a beautiful house in the suburbs, a marvelous high-rise apartment, close friends and family, a career, clothes, furniture, appliances, public transportation, the Internet, and even the latest in modern technology. Let's not forget to appreciate the person that we are. The heart of the matter is that we are in excellent health, possessing a strong body that can meet the demands of the long day. We also need to be thankful for the opportunity to express ourselves through our creativeness, but most of all, we have to be thankful that we live in America. How I love America, a nation among all nations, wherein we all enjoy his or her rights and the freedom of choice. We are truly blessed. Hey, you know what; life isn't so bad is it? When we learn to appreciate what we have we are much happier. Life takes on a new meaning with a certain degree of rosiness we even feel prosperous. "Prosperous?" You got it right. When you are satisfied with what you have and are grateful for it, you begin to develop a positive mental attitude, which will, in the course of time, draw that prosperity to you which will allow you to live a life that is worth living.

So my dear readers, get out of the dismal rut that you are in, convert all your setbacks into opportunities, reinforce your values and live in the most positive way that you can, because this current economic downturn will eventually pass. Remember, in order to be prosperous, you have to want to be prosperous. Expect and accept only the best in your life. Start with the creativeness that you have and move forward from there. If you are willing to give up your old way of thinking, giving a new, conscious instruction to your subconscious mind, then you will begin to see improvement in your outer experiences. Good luck and best of success. Feel happy about your life at last!

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