by Kara-Leah Grant, Musings from the Mat
I’ve been pondering money, value, gifts, offering and exchange this week.
I met with a friend who talked about how she was doing work she was passionate about that barely paid her enough to survive on. This work is about how we create our societies and so benefits everybody.
She said that she’d noticed it as an increasing trend – that on one hand we do what we need to do to earn the money to survive, and on the other hand we do our important work. Often that important work is what supports and fuels a better society.
But it’s not where the money is. The money is in oil, and patenting seeds, or trading on futures. That’s where the money is. (Why? Because that kind of work generates more money – it’s a giant pyramid scheme.)
I was pondering all this this afternoon, lying on the couch positioned just so to catch the afternoon autumn sun and provide a view of the mountains. I was gazing out at my full wood shed and feeling full inside.
I am warm, I am cozy, I have a beautiful view, and my son is chattering away beside me.
Let’s cuddle on the couch mum.
So we do, as I continue to gaze at the view and my full wood shed.
That wood filling my sheds would have cost me $600 – $900 to buy and deliver if I was still living in the city. As a single parent on a tight income – around $20,000 a year – I would have needed to be ingenious some way or another to come up with that cash.
But I didn’t have to.
Here, in rural New Zealand, a friend offered to take me out ‘wooding’.
He’d traded his labour on a local farm for access to willow trees that needed trimming anyway.
He brought his trailer, chainsaw, axe, knowledge and labour. Together, we headed out on three different mornings and brought back trailerloads of willow wood. That fixed me up for the winter and it didn’t cost anything, except my labour.
My friend happens to love the process of wooding, so he enjoyed being able to help me out.
He freely gave what he could, and it cost him far less than it could have potentially cost me.
There’s a mathematical equation in there somewhere and I suspect it defines the new economy.
If it costs you less to give something to someone than they gain, there’s a net gain for everyone.
I felt this new reckoning at play yesterday too. I was on the phone to the president of the Yoga Education in Prisons Trust discussing a promotion I wanted to launch. The President, Heather, stopped me in mid-sentence.
I just have to say, you have no idea what it’s been like for the trust to have you appear out of no-where and be so generous. It’s given us something – a new energy or vitality. You’ve just been so generous.
Heather’s comment pulled me up short.
I could hear in her voice how my decision to offer what I could to YEPT had affected them. I had a flash of insight – a visceral feeling in my body – of what t’s like to labour hard at something you care about feeling like it’s almost invisible, and out of the apparent blue, have a stranger call you up and say, hey, here’s some money and exposure. You’re doing great work.
The cost to me of supporting YEPT is far less than the value that YEPT is receiving. (I donate $1 from every print sale and 10% from every electronic sale of Forty Days of Yoga.)
I provide some time and money, they receive publicity and money. But more than that, they also receive support – they know that someone out there cares.
And that helps to remind them that the work they’re doing is really important. That they’re important. Because all of the volunteers at the Trust are doing what they do for free. They’re hard working professionals who believe deeply in the power of yoga to make a difference in prisons, and they give what they can.
It’s like my friend last week, talking about her work with Shaping our Future. She’s doing fabulous work too, work that bring together many knowledgable and talented people throughout the community and links them together to share ideas and insight. The value she provides is far and above beyond what it costs her to provide.
I have another friend who lives in an intentional community who can’t wait for the traditional economy to collapse so we can move toward a gift economy. An economy based on giving what you can, when you can, with no expectation of reward or exchange attached it – merely trust that it all comes back around one way or another.
But we don’t have to wait for the traditional economy to collapse before we start to consciously embrace other ways of connecting and exchanging time and goods with each other.
We can start now – and so many of us already have. We volunteer, we donate to charity, we give to friends and family our time, love and money when we can and sometimes when we feel like we can’t.
However, if we become conscious of what we’re doing, we can take it another step further.
Living the New Economy starts with an assessment of where we are already wealthy in our lives. Some of us our time-wealthy. Others are money-wealthy, some are skills-wealthy. Some are ideas-wealthy, or enthusiasm-wealthy, or creativity-wealthy.
Identify where you have a surplus in your life. How could you gift that surplus in a way that would only enrich you further?
Then find a recipient – someone or something that would benefit from your giving far beyond what is actually given.
In this way, the act of giving creates more in both the giver and the reciver.
Merely by shifting something from point A to B, greater wealth has been created. That’s the new economy.
An understanding that we create wealth by creating flow.
An understanding that by freely meeting the needs of those around us, we create abundance.
An understanding that be giving away that which we no longer need or value, we enrich someone else’s life.
It’s a method I’ve been using with this website for a long time – creating something out of my freely given skills, talent and time that serves the yoga community and has enriched my life.
Much value has been gifted, and created.
But as you know, I’m about to introduce a Premium Membership system. How does this fit into the idea of the New Economy? How is this about Gifting?
For a start, becoming a Premium Member is choice and an option. You don’t have to be a member to continue freely accessing value on the website – you’ll just be limited to 15 pages a month. If you’re an email subscriber, you’ll also receive all the latest articles for free.
Those who don’t want to pay, don’t have to.
But if you value the website and the content that is freely given, you’ve got a new choice.
You can choose to freely offer something tangible back in return – and you can choose how much. I’ve set a minimum monthly and annual payment, but if you want to pay more, you can adjust the figure in the shopping cart.
Setting up this system will help me unlock the value inherent in what I do, and inherent in the website. It will also mean that I have more time to deliver better and better content.
It’s me, looking at the important work I’m doing, and creating space for it to support me. I don’t want to give up on my important work just to get a job to live. That doesn’t make any sense to me.
In the new economy, using tools like the internet and our ability to tap into thousands of people, we can find ways of making our important work count.
Setting up a Premium Membership for The Yoga Lunchbox creates a committed relationship between me and my Premium Members. You can tell me what you need to know about yoga and I can put my skills and talent to work to create it. It’s almost like you can commission me to write the articles and e-books you would love to read.
That’s the New Economy too – it creates direct relationships between the creative and those who enjoy their work. It also creates deeper relationships between those who give freely and those who receive. It emphasises the ways in which we are all connected, rather than all separated.
Because we all know it at our core – there is more than enough in this world to go around. No one need lack anything, it’s only how we share what we’ve got that creates scarcity.
And sharing is caring. Sharing says, I trust I have enough to give. Sharing says, I value you and what you do.
So don’t want for the world to change before you change how you operate in your world. We are the ones creating the new world.
Find your wealth.
Give it away.
Watch it grow.
New Economy = Sharing, Caring + Net Gain for Everybody.
‘In a gift economy the more you give, the richer you are’
It gets good at about 0.57 seconds