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Scarcity vs. Service

May 30, 2022

Dr. John Dyben, DHSc, MCAP, CMHP | Chief Clinical Officer

In economics, an important and logical rule is referred to as the law of scarcity.

Simply put, this law is expressed as, “The more I give, the less I have.”

It is a logical and straightforward rule that works well in economics. If I have ten dollars and give you five, I will have less money than when I started. Those who do not learn this rule are destined to be financially impoverished. However, another law is equally true and might be even more crucial to understand.

In the spiritual program of 12-Step recovery, we are introduced to a very different axiom that tells us, in essence, “The more I give, the more we all have.”

Let me explain. I keep tiny things if they have significance to me. I have a box at home filled with cards, pictures, drawings, and trinkets of all sorts. Each one of them has value and meaning to me. There is a stick that a child gave me as a sign of friendship, a card that was given to me by someone who forgave a wrong that I had done, a piece of a broken water pipe from an episode that taught me an important lesson about humility, and on and on.

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All these things are valuable to me, but their value starts and ends with me. That is unless I share them with others.

When I do that, something magical happens. When I share the lessons I have learned or the meaning and value represented in an object, the object begins to be more than just something that has value to me. It now has meaning and value that has grown to influence another person. Thus, the more I share what I have received, the more it will increase in worth, value, and significance.

As described in Step 12, a spiritual awakening works much the same way.

The only way for it to grow into all that it can be is for us to give away what we have received, share it with others, and “practice these principles in all our affairs.”

An important caveat to this truth is that we have all been given gifts.

Some gifts are good, some wonderful, some bad, some terrible. We have all been given gifts of love, grace, mercy, and kindness at some point. Likewise, we all have been on the receiving end of abuse, betrayal, neglect, and all sorts of negative “gifts.”

The key principle to understand is that whatever you give away is what will grow in your life.

No one gets through life completely unscathed. So, the question is, what things have you received are you going to give away? Today, consider taking an inventory of all the things you have received in your life. Consider the good, the bad, and the ugly. And then ask yourself, “What do I want to grow in my life?”

When you have the answer, give that away. I promise you it will be what grows and flourishes.

Today, my prayer is that I will be mindful of all the gifts that I have received and choose to release those things that I do not want to grow. Through service to others, I pray that I will give gifts of grace, mercy, kindness, and forgiveness so they might grow, grow, grow.


Headwaters is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care for addiction and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting sobriety. For information on our programs, call us today: 561-270-1753.

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