The “paradox of abundance” is when you feel like something is less valuable simply because it’s easier to get or more common. This is related to two harmful myths of our culture.
Myth #1: Rarity = Value.
In some cases, it’s true that rarity can affect value, for instance of lots of people like gold because it’s pretty, but there just isn’t very much gold, then the value will go up due to its rarity. But many people might have said “the value is high because of its rarity,” and that is simply rubbish. The value is high because people think it’s pretty! Or useful! Or whatever! Just because something is rare does not automatically mean that it is valuable.
Imagine a world where we really did have enough for everyone. I would want to be happy in that world. Wouldn’t you?
Myth #2: Effort = Value.
There are a few cases where extra effort can increase the value of something, but most of the time, it’s just a harmful myth. For instance, people who work 60-hour weeks are usually valued more highly than people who work 40-hour weeks, even if the 40-hour-a-week people produce twice as many useful results.
Imagine that two of your friends each help others in various ways. Your first friend works really hard at it and puts a lot of effort into it, but your second friend does it effortlessly and almost accidentally. Society tells us to value the first friend’s accomplishments more because they worked harder for them. This is bullshit and incredibly insidious!
If people at large believe that effort equals value, then we’re not really being encouraged to grow, to learn, to help others, or to do useful things. We’re being encouraged to try hard. And often, what is encouraged is what ends up manifesting.
I prefer to live in a world where people are encouraged to grow, to learn, to help others, and to do useful things, because that’s the world in which those results are most likely to happen.