Resource Misconceptions

by teresalaynebennett

photo of dump truck at landfill

The I-never-have-enough lifestyle produces this.

Do you ever look around and ask yourself why there’s such a great big ole disconnect between what we know and how we act? Disconcerting, isn’t it, especially when – ick – you realize you’re part of it?

Here’s one example of that disconnect I’d like to harp on, and I’m certain you’ve already thought of it. We act as if we think our world’s natural resources are limitless but we never think we, personally, have enough of them.

Resource Misconception #1
We have PLENTY of natural resources.
They’re limitless.

We act as if we believe this, even though reams of research and talking heads tell us otherwise. We here in the U.S. are particularly myopic and greedy, accounting for a minuscule five percent of the world’s population but using a whopping 24 percent of its resources. We know better, but we’ve assumed the fingers-in-the-ears, hands-over-the-eyes stance. La, la, la, la; not listening, not listening.

Maybe it’s because we live in such a large country that’s bountifully blessed with natural resources. (Those of us out here in the West look around and ask, “What’s the problem? We’ve got plenty more to use up!”)

Maybe it’s our inherited national psyche resulting from the fact that our country is one of the few in the world purposefully settled

  • en masse
  • over a relatively short period of time
  • by people who were on a very serious quest for a better life.

From the beginning of our nation’s history, we’ve looked around with covetous eyes, seen all these delectable resources, and figured they were ours to take and use any way we pleased. Shucks, there were so many we’d never use them up. Bad news: we’re using them up but then, you already knew that.

So, when we’re paying attention and being honest with ourselves, we know the world’s resources are limited. Now we come to our second misconception.

Resource Misconception #2:
“I don’t have plenty of resources.
In fact, I never have enough.”

What a difference, eh? We act as if we believe our world will provide plenty of everything necessary and unnecessary for human life, on the one hand. On the other hand, we’re constantly and consistently grabbing whatever we can because, after all, we don’t believe we personally have plenty. We don’t have enough! We figure we:

  • don’t have a large enough home and need to “move up.”
  • need another _____ with four wheels.
  • really deserve to ditch the five-year-old TV and buy a newer, bigger, techi-er one.
  • have waited long enough to get that slick smartphone that “everyone else already has.”

Now let me say right now, I don’t know anyone in middle-class America who’s willing to say “I don’t have enough” aloud and in public. I’m not sure I know anyone who would say this privately to herself. It’s just so pitiful, and plenty of us would rather have our tongues cut out than sound pitiful – even to ourselves. But though we don’t verbalize it, I know this is a very real resource misconception because most of us ACT this way.

Yikes, this kind of cockeyed thinking makes me crazy!

Especially when, if I just pay attention to my life, I can clearly see mounds and mounds of resources – all mine and already paid for in time, money, and energy. Things like:

  • a kitchen full of utensils, making meal prep a no-brainer
  • a block-size grocery store a mile away, filled with all the raw ingredients for the above, and the money to buy that food
  • a closet full of clothes, all appropriate for what I need to do and, for now, all fitting
  • a closet floor full of shoes, ditto above
  • a garage filled with two cars
  • a workshop area with every tool we could possibly need (and a bunch we don’t need!)
  • a house full of furniture and furnishings

And then there are the less tangible resources most of us also possess:

  • a community of friends and family who provide all kinds of support on an as-needed basis
  • carefully nurtured good health and good healthcare
  • inherent talents, as natural as breathing, to be used on the job or simply to benefit family and friends
  • cultivated abilities, e.g. repairing a bathroom stool; wiping every bit and byte of ID-sensitive files off a hard drive; taking portrait-studio-worthy photos, etc.
  • expertise acquired from six years of very expensive university studies
  • emotional insights acquired from life’s painful events (Yes, they’re resources; they’re the “tools” we use to help others going through similar situations.)
  • good enough health to work and earn money
  • sturdy legs to walk anywhere
  • eyes to see all the beauty around you and let it sink into your soul
  • a quick mind that allows you to catch on to your manager’s latest ideas quicker than anyone else at the table (always an endearing trait to those above us)

Here’s the irony in this sad saga. We’re not paying attention to the fact that we do indeed have plenty of resources of every imaginable kind, and so we tend to use up a disproportionate amount of the world’s diminishing and not-so-plentiful resources. We grab more and more because, pitiful souls that we are, we “don’t have enough.”

Make a list
of your own personal resources.

Pay attention to it. Take it to the next step: revel in it. Post it somewhere prominent where you can’t miss it. Make it a habit to review it daily. Realize you have enough, and give the earth’s not-so-plentiful resources a much-deserved break!

Meanwhile, let’s delve deeper into this topic of resources with this post on functional fixedness. (It’ll be fun, unlike many of my previous posts. 😀)

©2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” – Gen. 2:15, NIV Bible

Translation: TAKE CARE OF resources.

red box with white text of Luke 12:25: ". . .life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."

The I-never-have-enough lifestyle won’t work.