Practicing Slack

There's another key concept from the Scarcity book I'm listening to that is the second “game changer” in terms of how I look at the overall concept of meeting needs. It's the idea of slack.

The first thing to realize is that this is nothing to do with the term “slacker”; instead, think about having a lot of rope, both the stuff you're using and “slack” – i.e., the extra rope that you have on hand in case you need it.

According to the authors, one of the biggest reasons scarcity causes stress is because there is a lack of slack. Not that you don't actually have enough to meet your needs – rather, you don't have enough in the event that your needs change.

Sure, you could think about this as rich and poor – certainly a flat tire can be a minor annoyance to the wealthy but a possible eviction for the impoverished. But remember that scarcity applies to any resource you have feelings about – so time can have a lack of slack, or energy. The whole concept of “not having enough spoons” comes from the idea that some people have more slack available in terms of interacting with others.

Getting a Bigger Suitcase

The authors do a good job of describing the idea of slack in terms of suitcases. If I'm going on a trip with Natasha, we may be going the same place and doing the same things. She packs her small carry-on, and she's very careful with the choice of shoes, the way the clothes are folded around the toiletries, and whether or not to bring that extra sweater to fight the Baltimore chill.


Meanwhile, I'm packing my bigger suitcase, and while I may have the same items, I don't have to be as careful – I don't have to pay attention to how things are packed, and rather than being forced to choose between shoes I can just say Heck with it, I'll bring both. That's slack.


And it's what I'm working on right now as I fight the scarcity mindset. Where in my life do I feel scarcity? How can I build more slack into that area? Also, where in my everyday practice don't I feel the pressure, and how can I remember those places and be more grateful?


I'd be interested in knowing what kind of slack you have in your life – especially if you only just now realized it, like I did.


“Remember you can't have everything. Where would you put it?” – Stephen Wright

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