We live in interesting times. We live in the age of abundance.
- Abundance of calories,
- Abundance of information,
- Abundance of pleasure,
- Abundance of comfort,
- Abundance of goods.
And the list goes on.
In our 4.5 billion years of evolution, our ancestors had to deal with problems of scarcity. Therefore, we are wired to deal with scarcity.
We don’t know how to deal with abundance. This is a new skill set we need to learn. Perhaps, we need to create some artificial scarcities in our lives to deal this new condition.
Let’s go over each item to discuss how the problem manifests itself.
Abundance of Calories
The abundance of calories is the most obvious problem. There are people on earth who don’t have access to sufficient calories. However, the average person has access to an abundance of calories.
It is a challenge to have access to an abundance of calories without consuming them in excess and making ourselves sick in the process.
Most of our ancestors did not have this type of luxury. We don’t have the self-regulatory mechanisms encoded in our DNA. This is definitely a skill we need to learn.
Abundance of Information
I guess no one can object that we live in times of abundant information. Abundance of information can be a challenge in two ways.
The first challenge is to extract the signal from the noise. In other words, it’s a challenge to separate the correct, useful information from the incorrect, useless information. Search engines like Google are helping us with that challenge.
The second challenge is to let go of our addiction to less valuable, useless information, such as social media, email, news, and other types of Internet addictions.
Abundance of Pleasure
This is connected to the first and second challenges, but as an overarching challenge, it deserves its own section.
We use calories not only to feed ourselves, but also to feel pleasure.
We fool ourselves with all the information that is flowing from our TV’s, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones into believing that we have exciting, eventful lives.
We also fool ourselves with all the messaging apps and social networks into believing that we are connected with other human beings and have great social lives.
If you disagree with me switch off all of your electronic devices for a week and see how eventful your life is and what kind of a social life you have. If you do that, you will see that your life is pretty mundane and you don’t have as many real friends as you think you have.
We have access to an abundance of substances, such as alcohol, recreational drugs, and caffeine, like never before. Birth control and condoms made sex safe like never before.
Gambling, gaming, and other adrenaline inducing activities are accessible like never before. All of which can cause addictions and overindulgence.
Abundance of Comfort
Our ancestors didn’t have the level of comfort we have now. Most of us have easy access to safe homes, food, water, shelter, clothes, and so on. We don’t need to take any risks to access those basic necessities of human life. Our ancestors had to fight and/or make great effort to have those basic necessities.
In order to deal with the abundance of comfort, we need to get out of our comfort zones. We need to make physical exercise a part of our routine. We also need to cultivate courage by taking calculated risks regularly.
Abundance of Goods
Most of us are blessed with the means to not only cover our basic necessities but also to afford luxury products that we don’t really need.
If you think about it, anything other than our basic necessities is a luxury product. Our homes are cluttered with stuff that we don’t really need.
We are hardwired to deal with scarcity and we don’t know how to deal with abundance. We indulge in calories, information, pleasure, comfort, and stuff that we don’t really need.
We need to develop the skills to benefit from abundance without getting lost in it. Since this is the first time we experience this type of abundance, it requires our conscious effort to develop that kind of skills.
If we don’t develop those skills we not only risk living unfulfilling shallow lives, but also making ourselves sick in the process and living a shorter life.