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A position of abundance

Why is it that people in some geographies (like Western Europe) were able to advance technologically while people in other geographies (like Australia) failed to do so and remained in the stone ages and hunter gatherer societies?

This is the question that Jared Diamond starts his famous book, 'Guns Germs & Steel' with.

One of the arguments that he uses to explain this observation, which Yuval Noah Harari also does in his 'Sapiens', revolves around domestication of animals and agriculture.

The idea they both put out is that once some people began investing in farming and domestication of animals, they were able to produce food vastly greater than what was needed for those producing them. This allowed for the evolution of chiefs, landlords, governments, bureaucracies and most importantly, armies and explorers.

These people could travel farther and farther without having to worry about growing their own food and conquer more productive lands. And in order to do that, they needed to invent tools to overcome people that already lived on those lands and they needed to invent tools to carry food and equipment over those distances, tools to fight better with less men, boats to explore the seas and so on.

This is one of the most important lessons from history that we can apply in our own lives.

If all our thoughts are occupied in identifying what we ought to do next, what we ought to do to earn the next pay check, what we ought to do to buy the next shiny thing or the next fancy vacation or eat at the new gourmet restaurant, we are not operating from a position of abundance.

When we are grateful for and satisfied with everything that we have, like the societies that could feed themselves through easy farming, we start to operate from a position of abundance. And we can spend the excess brain capacity on excelling at our creative pursuits and in exploring new ideas that we would otherwise not pursue.

Contrary as it may seem, the trick to operating from a position of abundance is not to acquire more and more, but to need less and less. 

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