Scarcity Principle

By: Dr. Timothy Dey

A conversation with a precocious 12 year old

Q: What is the “scarcity principle”?
A: The “scarcity principle” is the belief that there is not ‘enough’ to go around

Q: Enough of what?
A: Enough of any thing you can think of that the world says you must possess in order to be happy, or perhaps even just to survive

Q: Like what?
A: Like food, water, shelter, clothing, medicine, stuff like that. But also things that you don’t need to “survive”, but which you are taught you need in order to be happy. These are things like cars, telephones, television sets, toys of all kinds, all the things that we spend our lives “getting” and bringing home to stay at our house with us.

Q: Is it always something you can see or touch? I heard somebody say once that there aren’t enough jobs for everybody that needs work!
A: No indeed! The “scarcity principle” applies just as much to things you can’t see as well as things you can

Q: How can there not be enough of something that you can’t touch or see to go around? That seems so silly, to not have enough of something that’s invisible.
A: I agree with you. It is silly to think that way.

Q: Well then, why do people do it?
A: Because they were taught that way, and because they don’t know any better, and sometimes because they like pretending that that’s the way things really are.

Q: Some people want to pretend that there’s not enough things for everybody that wants them? That’s more than just silly, that’s crazy too! Why would anybody like pretending that?
A: To answer your question, let me ask you a question first, and your answer will help us both understand. What is the one thing that everybody wants no matter who they are?

Q: That’s easy! I learned that a long time ago. Everybody wants to be happy!
A: Exactly so. Well done. And you have given yourself your answer to the question you just asked me about why people pretend there is not enough to go around.

Q: Because they want to be happy? I don’t get it! I thought that the “scarcity principle” is part of what makes people unhappy.
A: And so it does. But the game is played like this: in order to become happy, people think they need something that they don’t’ have already. They think that if they don’t have it, it must be somewhere else, outside of themselves. So they pick something that they think they don’t have already, something they think is somewhere else, and they spend all their time wishing they had it, and doing things they think might help them get it.

Q: Do they get the thing they want so much?
A: You tell me. Do people always get all the “things they wish for?

Q: No… but sometimes they do!
A: Yes, sometimes they do

Q: And when they get the “thing” do they get happy too?
A: Sometimes they think they are happy for a short while. But what they start to notice almost as soon as they have it is that this “thing” is not the same thing as happiness after all. The “thing” is just a symbol for what they really wanted-which is happiness itself. And the more they look at their “thing”, the more obvious it gets to them that the “thing” and happiness are not the same at all

Q: What do they do then?
A: Different people do different things. Sometimes they pretend real hard for a while that the thing they picked to represent happiness really is happiness, and they try to ignore all the obvious facts that anyone can see to show them they’ve made a mistake. Sometimes they admit their mistake, and pick something else to have instead and start all over again. And sometimes they get so sad that they don’t know what to do and they kill themselves. And once in a while a great long while, they understand that no- thing can be what happiness is except happiness itself. And they understand that that means happiness absolutely can not be anything outside themselves, but only what is already “inside”, something they have already and always have had. And that it is is free and can never run out, and never go away. And that there is always enough for everybody who wants it.

Q: If it was always inside of them, how come they didn’t know about it before they started looking on the outside?
A: They chose to forget. They chose to pretend that something else was true instead of Truth for a little while.

Q: But looking for happiness where it isn’t and expecting to find it there is insane. It doesn’t and never can make any sense because it will never, ever work!
A: You are exactly right, of course. So when you run into people who tell you how very sad they are because they cannot have the “things” that will make them happy when they get them, how will you help them? Will you teach them how to “get” things quicker and better than before, quicker and faster than everybody else?
Q: No, there’s no difference between the people who get the stuff fast, or slow, or never get it at all. The only thing that matters is if they learn to stop looking where happiness isn’t and remember that it’s been with them the whole time.
A: What do they need to do to have their happiness come back into their minds?

Q: They have to decide they want it and nothing else instead. And then they will have t and will never run out again.

Timothy Dey, M.D. makes a unique combination of educational assets and life experiences available to people through his writing, consulting, coaching and workshops. He joins the ranks of those healers who focus on transformation of mind and spirit as the most direct path to real and lasting health. As co-founder of The Dey Group ( he is devoted to providing resources and support for those in transition.