Universal Law – Learning From Bad Experiences

I am on my way back from my North and South America qigong teaching tour.  The workshops have been offered on a GFRF basis wherever possible, but I have also left it up to the local organizer to make arrangements as they see fit. This has led to a range of different systems including some where they have had a ‘minimum’ donation and encouragement to GFRF as well, some with a set price and others with a price or option to GFRF instead.

Good Experiences

I have had many wonderful experiences meeting generous, thoughtful and conscientious people of high personal integrity. For these people GFRF works well and is a wonderful way to interact. The exchange may be great or small, but the freedom of it has a certain beauty and authenticity which I think benefits all parties involved. Freedom is to be highly valued and I think helps those participating to truly engage with what they are doing on a deeper level and thus derive greater value from it.

Bad Experiences

Unfortunately have I also had many experiences which were not so good, with people who just decided that GFRF meant something for nothing, or for very little or far less than what they would pay for other things.  I find this attitude a little puzzling as if it is really of low value – why would they waste their time on it?  I would go further to say that there were several instances where I was used, abused and seriously taken advantage of.  There seem to be a lot of people that simply cannot (or choose not to) engage with the concept of GFRF with integrity.

Over the years I have been experimenting with GFRF I have encountered this with increasing frequency.  When I began to offer my clinical services on a GFRF basis, for the most part people gave about what they would have previously, with some giving a bit more, others a bit less, or even a lot less due to their circumstances – which is kind of the whole idea of GFRF, with only the occasional person ‘taking advantage’ of the system by giving very little when they could clearly afford much more.  And that was to accept a little of the bad with the good, as it enabled me to engage with people in this more authentic and beautiful way.  But over time the frequency of these more ‘negative’ experiences increased until they actually started to outnumber the good ones!?!~?!/!?!

The same goes for the online training that I offer. I get so many emails from people saying how they love what I am doing and they are planning on donating soon… … … … … and then they never do.  I wonder why they bother sending me the email of their plan to donate if they are not going to follow through? Almost all of those who are going to donate, just go ahead and do it! I then hear from the AFTER they have donated, or maybe not at all.

I have had so many conversations with people in various contexts saying how much they love what I am doing, how high the quality of my services are (whether it be clinical treatment, online instruction, or after a workshop) and even how much better they are than other services that they also use, while in the same conversation they also tell me of the quite large sums of money they are paying for these other services or other things, when they give me a very small fraction of this… Where is the disconnect???

My commitment as part of my working with the GFRF concept has been to accept whatever comes in the form of payment/donation without judgement. This has been very difficult at times to converse with someone calmly without judgement who is blatantly taking advantage of me. Emotionally the ego wants to respond, as the other person is in a very real way undermining my wellbeing. Sometimes it feels like an actual attack on myself and even physically and psychologically painful, which it is in away.  They have taken what I have to offer – which is usually my time, skills and knowledge, but really this is no different from taking my physical possessions, and by not giving in return for what they have received they are taking away my ability to provide and care for myself. They are also taking away my ability to continue to provide my services to both themselves and others.  What is not cared for and treated with love and respect withers and dies – if not immediately, then eventually.  We see this all the time in the world around us – one example being the natural environment… Yet I have been committed to persisting and accepting without judgement.

Learning from bad and sometimes painful experiences

I was having one of these types of conversations with someone after a workshop (for which they gave nothing), staying calm and neutral and trying not to pass judgement, when I felt something ‘click’ in my head. It almost felt like an actual click. There was a specific moment when suddenly something felt different inside. I didn’t immediately understand what it was, but I continued to ponder on it and realized that I had finally opened a new perspective and a new understanding on Giving and Receiving freely.

I realized that this person would not, and in fact COULD NOT receive the benefit from the workshop that they had just attended, because they had not given in return for it.

Universal Law

In my qigong workshops I often talk the laws of physics and that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, for every force an equal and opposite force, as I explain how the exercises work and how we channel and direct these forces within our bodies for our benefit. I am now convinced that there is a Universal law that on a what could be termed ‘spiritual’ level we can not receive what we do not give in equal measure for. If it were not so, the universe would be out of balance and come apart.

The amount given has nothing to do with it, it is the value of what is given to the giver that determines the value what they are capable of receiving in turn. The classic example in the Christian Bible is of the widow’s mite where a poor widow donated two mites (the smallest of coins) to the treasury of the church and Jesus pointed out that relative to here means she had given more than the wealthy who had given large sums of money.  This in turn meant that she could receive more. The giving needs to be relative to the means of the giver because it then reflects the value that they are investing on a deep level into the giving.  Without sufficient investment they cannot truly receive on a deep level.

Sometimes people seem to think they are ‘giving’ by thinking nice thoughts about something, or by talking about it. But most of the time they are fooling themselves when they do this. They are creating an illusion within themselves that they have given, and so the nature of their receiving will be illusory as well. If they want to receive tangibly, they need to give tangibly according to their means as well.

Focus on the Receiving?

This has given me a new perspective on GFRF. I am currently giving my all, and have very much wanted to focus on this giving without focusing too much on the receiving.  But I now realize that for my giving not be in vain I need to also focus on how to have others give sufficiently so that they can fully receive the benefits of what I am offering. I have struggled a bit with this in the past as I have been very aware that by working in a GFRF way, I am reducing the number of people that I reach with my skills and knowledge as so many people are too uncomfortable with the idea of GFRF to engage with it – so they don’t take up my services. And yet I have still wanted to work in a GFRF way to find those who do ‘get it’, and also for what it does for me. It helps me to purify my intent and motives. It means I focus on the underlying real intrinsic value of what I am doing instead of focusing on the sometimes false or distorted financial value. I can do things for the right reasons based on love, instead of for the sometimes wrong reasons based on fear and insecurity.

It has also given me a new perspective on setting prices. I believe that those people who choose not to engage with my services due to discomfort with GFRF are usually people with personal integrity, but with fear of interacting outside of the normal price based system. They don’t trust themselves to get it ‘right’. They want to respect and value what I do and pay me fairly, but they also don’t want to give more than they should/can, and considering this becomes too difficult, so they just opt out of it all together.  I would like to encourage these people to trust themselves more and fear less and give GFRF a try. I think the world would be better for it.  But if they will not engage on these terms, then having a price gives them a way to receive value in a way that they are comfortable, but it also perhaps puts a cap on how much value they will receive as they then will usually only give the price set and not more, which in turn stops them from receiving more.

For others having a price can even perhaps work as a kind of Karmic/Cosmic protection. If the upside benefit of receiving is limited by how much you in turn give, then surely there are also negative consequences for those who do not give as they should. Whether this be through carelessness or outright using and abusing, I am sure there are consequences in order for the universe to remain in balance. By having a price and using this to prevent people from using and abusing, in a way you are protecting them from these negative consequences.

These insights are valuable to me as I now feel much more comfortable about putting a price on things if I need to, because with this perspective I can now do this out of love for the other person and with their wellbeing in mind, rather than out of fear and thinking about myself getting enough.

But what then about those beautiful, magical free interactions with people who do understand and ‘get’ GFRF? What about those who only have ‘two mites’ but for them this is a lot? What about those who have a lot and can receive more by giving more?

I wonder if there is a way to have essentially a two tier system. A price for most people, but a way for those that ‘get it’ to interact using GFRF. This might not be so far different from how kung fu and qigong teachers operated in the past, where most students had to pay a set price, but those with a particularly close relationship instead just gave ‘gifts’ reflecting the value of what they learned and their relationship. Over time students could move from one group to the other.  Something for me to think about…

It isn’t over

I haven’t given up on experimenting and trying work with GFRF. I am committed to continuing to do as much GFRF as I can through the rest of this year, and particularly as I travel teaching qigong in Europe and other parts of the world. I feel I have more to learn and experience yet.  I am greatful for the insights I have received though, because as it stands each leg of my travels so far have cost me more than I have received in return (and I have kept my expenses to the ABSOLUTE minimum), so it is likely that I will need to change how I do things in the future, as by definition something that costs more than it returns is unsustainable in the long run – I simply won’t be able to continue it in this way as I won’t have funds to pay my expenses. I have kept living in hope that I will find enough people who ‘get it’ so that I can continue to work in as pure a GFRF way as I can, but given my experiences to date this seems unlikely. Those who ‘get it’ seem to be outnumbered by those who don’t by… I’d say about 100:1.  If any of you reading this are the ones that ‘get it’ I would like to thank you for being you and the GFRF interactions we have had, you are truly a rare and precious individual. There is still time to learn more and find different options of how to do things… I will see what the rest of the year brings.

Writing about negative things

As you can probably tell, the negative experiences I have had using GFRF have built up over the years. I have been hesitant to write too much about these as like most people I prefer to focus on the positive. And I think that is the right thing to do. We draw towards us what we focus on. This sometimes leads people to take a fanciful view of things though. There are many people who just assume that everything is going wonderfully and must be great because I am using GFRF – these are usually also the type of people who say they are going to donate ‘soon’…

But part of my commitment to GFRF is to right about it honestly, so that others can learn from my experience. Even if I don’t succeed, others can gain inspiration from my efforts, or even just lessons on what to do differently. So I feel good about letting people know that it isn’t all moonbeams and stardust, and rainbows and unicorns (the more practical minded already know this, those that do donate tend to assume that the whole GFRF is bloody hard but they at least respect me for giving it a go), particularly now that I can in a sense turn these bad experiences into a ‘good’ through the insights I have had about Universal Law.

Is the universe out of balance, or have I received?

So if this giving and receiving thing is truly a Universal Law, is the universe still in balance? Financially I have not received anywhere near what I need to survive for my efforts in my clinical work, online training, and many of my workshops and travel, but have I perhaps received in other ways? I think I certainly have. I have met wonderful people who I otherwise would not have. I have had many insights about my own qigong practice that I also think I would not have otherwise had. And as I have traveled I have had marvelous experiences interacting with and working with the earth’s energy in different geographies. Some of these experiences I think have come as a direct result of my commitment to giving freely. If this were not the case I think I may have been able to experience the earths energy but not interact with it in the way that I have. This has led to further enhancement of my abilities which I don’t know if I could have achieved in another way. In a way I think this is a gift back from the universe, keeping things in balance. I just hope that somehow financially things are able to come into balance in the future as well.

A bit long and rambly, but this is where things are at with my experimentation with GFRF 🙂 I’m sure I will have further updates in the future.


Give Freely Receive Freely – World Tour

Well its happening.  I have reorganized my life to give me the freedom to be able to travel and offer workshops on a ‘Give Freely Receive Freely’ basis.  I am actually currently in Australia presenting workshops.  Later I will be going to the USA, Colombia, UK, Europe, Egypt, and South Africa. (You can see details at http://longwhitecloudqigong.com/)

In the end the tour will not be fully GFRF, I have left it up to the people in the different areas who are helping with organizing the workshops to decide how best to organize them in their area. This means that some are setting a price, others are having a ‘minimum donation’ arrangement, and others are running them straight GFRF.  And of course I do not have a source of freely given plane tickets, train tickets etc, along with other miscellaneous expenses along the way. Whatever the case I am going and presenting the workshops without expectation of whether they will make money or not, just focusing on the experience and sharing my knowledge and skills with others.  So in that sense it is still truly GFRF.

I hope that somehow this is able to work out, because to be able to live in a GFRF way is still my dream, but nagging at the back of my mind is that I may eventually have to change this and start to operate in a way where I charge set prices. In the end I have to be able to cover costs and live or it will be impossible to continue.  But for now I want to give it a chance, perhaps miracles can happen. I try to push these thoughts to the side and enjoy the journey in front of me for now.

A Crazy Plan?

So I’ve been struggling along working on what to do next.  I need to make some changes to move forwards with my life.  There are many possibilities, and one I am quite excited about.

You see most of the options I have been considering involve re-organizing and refocusing my work in a much more commercial way, so I can focus more on earning money under the rules of the standard economic system, and it may be that I have to do that as just part of dealing with the realities of life.  To be honest I feel a bit depressed thinking about it though, because I feel like if I do then I won’t have fully given Give Freely Receive Freely (GFRF) the chance it truly deserves.

You see I had a dream, or a vision of being able to live in a way where my interactions with others are financially free. Where my services and efforts do not come with a price attached, but simply as an expression of my care and love for those I serve.  Of course in order for me to do that and meet their needs and wants, I would also need their care and support in return in order to meet my needs and wants.  What an amazing life that would be living with such free and purely motivated exchange. But I have only managed to do that partially so far… I haven’t managed to go 100% GFRF.

Well there is one option I have been considering that might allow me to do that, at least for a time.  To be fair, I don’t know that I would manage 100% GFRF. The necessities of dealing with the world might not make this possible, but I might be able to do 90% or something like that.

So what is this crazy idea? It is to go on a Give Freely Receive Freely World Tour. I would travel the world teaching qigong workshops on a GFRF basis for a year, and see if I can manage to live that way.

This would address some of the issues I have mentioned previously holding me back from going 100% GFRF, namely having to pay substantial amounts of money for a lease to rent premises and also on other expenses.  By travelling I would largely free myself from this (there would be some fixed costs I would still need to meet even while I am away, but these would be greatly reduced from what I have to meet now), of course travelling can be expensive too though, so I would be relying on generosity and reciprocal giving in return for the teaching I would offer in order to keep me going.  As well as this some people might also help to reduce my travel costs by having me stay with them and feeding me and maybe even transporting me on some legs of my journey.

A world tour would also be an opportunity to communicate more about GFRF.  Doing it 100% (or close to it) might catch peoples attention and make them interested to learn and think about it.  And as I would be purely focused on my GFRF efforts, I think I would have a lot more time and energy to put into communicating about it as well.

Also awhile back I spoke to the guys at the Horse and Humanship centre (you can find details for them in the directory) about GFRF, and they said that they found it very hard to make it work in New Zealand, but much easier overseas – specifically in Europe. Perhaps part of my struggle has been my environment, and if I try it in another environment I will be more successful in living my GFRF dream.

If such a tour was really successful it might even help me to start to make progress towards some of my other ambitions.  I would like to be able to set up a retreat centre for learning qigong and other health practices.  And then again it may not be successful, but still I think it is something I would like to do.  I feel like GFRF is something valuable for the collective consciousness, and I would at least like to make what might be one last effort to live this fully and communicate it more widely.

I won’t make a decision about going on this GFRF tour just yet. I have committed to carry on with what I am doing (particularly with my kung fu school) until at least the end of the year.  And thinking about packing up and going is actually quite daunting.  There is so much that I will need to organize and put in place in order to do this.  I really want to leave my students well prepared and supported in their ongoing training. But it feels quite exciting. A chance to rekindle the dream, to see the vision again of living truly free.

So what do you think crazy, or a good idea?

Stuck in the Middle

Well its coming to the end of 2014 now and I haven’t written in this blog for quite awhile. I think about GFRF a lot, and I often think about things I would like to write about in the blog, but I am just too busy trying to take care of the other things in my life.  I think as it comes close to the end of the year I really should write at least something to update on where I am at with GFRF.

Basically GFRF is still a real struggle.  I really like doing things in this way, I see the potential of doing things in this way, and if GFRF was widely adopted I even see it as a solution for a multitude of social ills and perhaps even a formula for utopia.  BUT, so many people really don’t seem to understand GFRF, or if they do they are so conditioned into the standard economic way of doing things that they have a hard time embracing it.  Instead of GFRF opening a door of opportunity to people, for many it creates a barrier of misunderstanding.

GFRF is a very idealistic way to live and I have done my best to operate in this way, but it has been hard to get it to catch on.  In previous blog posts I have written about the need to communicate more about GFRF to help people understand it and become comfortable with it, but I find myself so busy with providing the services that I offer that I do not have the time and energy to also put significant effort into this communication.  I think for GFRF to really work well it may need a critical mass of people operating in this way to share the communication load and create a level of social normalcy around the concept.

And so I find myself a bit stuck in the middle.

I have glimpsed the possibilities of GFRF and I have tried to put it into practice the best I can, and have very much enjoyed the way this makes me feel and the way it helps me to focus on true value and not the distorted perception of value that sometimes comes when financial consideration is included in the perspective.

To date I have managed to live GFRF in only a portion of what I do, a very significant portion, but still just a portion.  Ideally I would like to do everything GFRF, but I haven’t had the confidence to do this.  I think this is largely down to my level of financial strength and freedom.  I think to live in a way which is at odds with the prevailing way of doing things requires great strength and courage, and maybe I’m not there yet. I think I have the courage, but maybe not the strength.

You see I only started to think of things in a GFRF way when I had paid off all my debts. As soon as I was completely debt free a window opened in my perception that allowed me to see the potential in GFRF, and so I decided to give it a try.  But being debt free may not be enough, as I do not have an asset base I am in a way still not very free.  I have the continuing obligation of paying substantial amounts of money in rent so that I can have a place to offer my services and also to live.  While I have this obligation it is difficult to operate completely GFRF, as I need some confidence that I can cover this rent, and my experience with GFRF has been that I could have had real trouble at times in meeting this obligation if I had been solely operating in this way.

I think if I had more financial strength (ie an asset base sufficient to provide me with premises to work in and a place to live) I would feel much more capable of going completely GFRF, and I think for psychological reasons I would be able to begin to go further in thinking differently and seeing things differently, in much the same way as I began to think about GFRF initially after becoming free from debt.  But things have not been going well enough under GFRF to allow me to accumulate the kind of asset base I would need for this…

I wonder if it might be a case of needing to take a few steps backwards before again moving forwards, to put more of my time and effort into activities that I set a price on so that I can acquire the resources I need to then put my time and energy back into things without price.  A case of doing more work in the system to become free from the system.

I know though that it is easy to become submerged in the normal way of thinking when you are operating within the system, to start to believe the rules and boundaries of the system are real and lose sight of the deeper truth outside of the system.  Having glimpsed the potential of GFRF, I don’t want to lose sight of it.  So I think I will continue to try to offer as much as I can on a GFRF basis, but until I start to receive more from these GFRF efforts I may need to rebalance my time and energy to spending more of it on pursuits where my return is more certain.

I’m not sure what shape this is all going to take, and my inclination is still to do more GFRF and not less.  I actually have an idea of how I could go completely GFRF at least for a time.  It would involve freeing myself of my need to have a lease and pay rent… so I think it would only be a temporary solution.  But it would allow me to be full GFRF, and I wonder if there is power in that, power that would allow me to acquire the resources I need to be able to continue GFRF permanently.  I wonder if part of the reason why I have struggled to succeed with GFRF is because I have not been able to commit 100% to it.

Anyway, its not something I can do immediately, but may be able to start working towards.  I guess I will see what eventuates.

Other People Doing GFRF

I just received an inspiring email.  It is from someone who came across my online qigong courses and has begun using them.

Her name is Michelle, and she also uses the GFRF concept in her work!

I always find it inspiring to find and hear about people doing similar things.  I often find it challenging dealing with so many people who think the Standard Economic System way and who struggle to understand GFRF, but whenever I find other people using GFRF or similar ideas – it is an affirmation to me that I am not alone.  Other people are also thinking in this same way, and not only that – they are putting their thoughts and aspirations into tangible action.

For me each of these people are like little sparks of light brightening the world.  As more and more sparks appear, the world becomes a lighter place and it becomes easier for all of us to see a world of love and compassion.

Michelle recently wrote a blog post on here website about GFRF (she calls it pay what you like – as I often do too when describing it to people) where she mentions some other businesses and people using these concepts as well.  You can check it out here.

I have also listed her services in the directory page here.

The Four Horsemen – Really good documentary about the financial crisis and the big picture of our economic system

I think this documentary is really worth a watch.  It points to a need for a rethink of how we operate economically as a society.

Some great quotes in there:

“One person may not be able to change the system, but they can change themselves”.
“Debt is now thought of as normal, its not. It is a form of slavery”.

I’m not sure I agree with all the conclusions, but there is some really good information in there.


Living Inside the System

I’ve had a few conversations lately that I’ve been thinking about.

Conversation One

A couple of weeks ago I had a couchsurfer who looked up the ‘Give Freely Receive Freely’ website (I have the website address on the back of my business card along with the addresses of several of my other websites).  She said it was interesting and asked if other people were involved, and if I was trying to get other people involved.  I told her what I have been doing so far, which is that if I find people doing something similar I put a link to them in the directory, but I haven’t really been trying to get people involved as such.  She told me she thought more people could and would be involved if I put the effort in.

Conversation Two

I had a new client come into my clinic recently, when I told her about my payment policy (GFRF), she told me she was familiar with this concept and would try to be comfortable with it.  She also told me that she had tried using this type of payment system herself previously and had found it hard and so had given up.

Conversation Three

I had a client who I have dealt with numerous times on a GFRF basis, although not particularly regulary, since I began my experiment with GFRF.  She likes the idea but STILL finds it hard, even after – even after 2 years of intermittent contact with it.  She wanted to buy some gift vouchers for someone and asked me to please just tell her a price…

So these are the recent conversations, but I have had other similar ones previously with people liking the idea but expressing discomfort with actually using it, and also with people telling me they have tried to do something similar but found it too hard and gave up.

This got me thinking… at least on a positive note I have found it encouraging to hear from people that they have liked this kind of idea so much that they have actually tried it themselves, but a bit disappointing that they had not continued with it, and also a bit frustrating that people have found it so uncomfortable even after using it for so long.

Living Inside The System

I guess I don’t really find any of this surprising though.  Day to day each of us interacts with the rest of the world around us in a way very different from GFRF (for ease of reference I should probably come up with a name for the normal way people interact financially, maybe Standard Economic System – SES?, anyone have another idea? maybe leave a comment).  We have so many interactions and transactions with set prices and required payment, contracts and obligations, that this shapes the way we think.  Because we have to behave in this way so much of the time, we spend a lot of time thinking in this way.  Much as we may like the idea of GFRF, it requires a change in mode of thinking, and this can be uncomfortable and require quite a bit of effort when you have the habit of having to interact in a different way most of the time.

Personally even after two years of using GFRF, I still find it a bit hard because while I offer it myself, most of my other interactions with people are on an SES basis and I don’t really have a choice in it, so this has a constant impact on my way of thinking.  It is also difficult because I am constantly encountering peoples discomfort with it or difficulty understanding it.  But I really like the way working on a GFRF basis makes me feel.  I feel good about working in this way, I think it helps me to focus on the right things, the truly important things and not be distracted and diverted in the way that normal SES thinking can.  I think the instinct to live the GFRF way is actually fairly common, but constant exposure to the SES makes it hard for people to see how they can do it, so they shy away from it.

Community Support

I think what would help is to know and have regular contact with people who think the same way and are trying to do the same things.  This means forming a community.  I think this website could be part of building such a community.  It could be a place to share experiences and encourage each other and remind each other of what it is about GFRF that makes us want to live that way.

I have a couple of ideas I’d like to try to make this website more interactive and a better support for people interested in GFRF.

For a start I think it would be good if there were regular new blog posts about GFRF and peoples experiences with it.  I find that writing blog posts often takes me a lot of time as I try to think how I want to say things, and sometimes it is hard for me to find the time to put into writing new posts.  I’d like to try writing more often though so that there are things for people to read and keep them interested.  I would also like to extend an open invite to anyone else who would like to write a post for the site.  It could be something simple, how GFRF makes you feel or an experience you’ve had with GFRF.

I would also like to set up a forum on the website where people can post questions and comments etc and have meaningful discussion.  I have actually tried doing this already, but it didn’t quite work.  I will look at it again soon, but if anyone out there has skills in setting up a forum on wordpress it would be great if you could help out.

I think if we are active in communicating with each other and supporting each other it will make it easier to stay in GFRF thinking and not relapse into SES thinking, even while surrounded by SES systems.

Interacting With The SES World

I also wonder about modifying how I practice GFRF.  I do get tired of the discomfort many people have with GFRF, and I know that many people find GFRF confrontational in that it challenges some of their deeply held beliefs about how they need to act.  I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing, I think that questioning can be productive, but its not really my aim to be confrontational.

I have been thinking along the lines of maybe offering my services at a price as per usual SES practice, but having it available on a GFRF basis for anyone who asks.  The GFRF would not exactly be a secret as I mention it numerous times on my various websites, the address for this website is on my business card and so on.  But I wouldn’t be confronting people with it.  Those who are interested and look it up would be able to find out what it is and make use of it, those who are inclined to find it confrontational probably wouldn’t even look it up.  In a sense I would be making GFRF optional.  I would be providing a price so that people embedded in an SES mindset can be more comfortable using my services, while still encouraging those who ‘get’ GFRF to use this principle in dealing with me.

I am still undecided about whether I want to do this or not.  I think there could be quite few benefits to operating in this way, but on the other hand I like being completely open and out there with my GFRF, I like that it encourages people to think.  Also setting a price is not ideal from a pure GFRF perspective (I think I’ll have to write something about the pro’s and con’s of pricing soon).

Anyway, that is a little of what I’ve been thinking about.  Leave any of your comments below, or you can email me on the contact page.



What happens when we give to much?

Sometimes people who are naturally giving by nature, or people who are opening themselves up to being giving, fall into situations where they give to much.  What do I mean by giving to much?  They give to the extent that they become tired, drained and worn out, to the extent that their own wellbeing suffers and their ability to continue to give is reduced.  Giving starts to feel like a chore or a burden, maybe an obligation or even resented, instead of the joy that it can ideally be.

I have seen this, and experienced this myself many times in different situations.  One such situation is serving in non-profit organizations – I’m going to save discussing that one for another blog post though, as there are some other issues to do with that dynamic that I would like to bring out.  Another more recent situation has been in hosting couchsurfers.


If you haven’t heard of couchsurfing I suggest you check it out – there is a website at www.couchsurfing.org  Basically it is a network for travellers where people can meet locals and request to stay with them short term during their travels.  There is no cost, and requiring payment is explicitly prohibited.  I think the underlying spirit of couchsurfing fits really well with the principles of Give Freely Receive Freely.

I have been hosting couchsurfers for the last year or so.  At some times during the year I get TONS of requests, and there have been times when I have taken the attitude that if I have space to fit someone in I would take them.  That has been fun at times, but then there have also been times when I have taken people in, and I have had too many people in a row, and some of them haven’t been entirely considerate as guests and it has taken up too much of my time and started to get in the way of my day to day activities and things that I need to get done.  These times have left me feeling a bit jaded with couchsurfing, and it has even been a bit stressful at times.  So I stopped hosting people.

End of the story?

The story could end there.  That could be the end of my couchsurfing story.  “I tried hosting people for awhile, then I had some bad experiences and it became a bit stressful so I stopped”.  Too often that can be what happens when we give too much.  We get drained and have bad experiences, so we get put off and think maybe its not such a good idea after all and stop doing it.  Fortunately with couchsurfing I didn’t take this approach.  Instead of stopping completely, I just stopped hosting for awhile.  I took a break so I could have time to myself and then came back to it refreshed and better able to manage my hosting so that it doesn’t become overwhelming and wear me down too much.  I now say ‘no’ to far more requests than I previously did and am much more careful to not host people at times when it may cause problems with my other activities, and also to just allow myself more down time when I need it.

I’m glad that I did this and didn’t just give up on couchsurfing, because I have met some really cool people since then through doing this.  And from time to time in the future I will continue to take breaks from hosting when I need it so that I can come back to it fresh each time and continue to enjoy the experience.

A bit like Italian parsley?

This reminds me a bit of an Italian parsley plant we had in my mothers garden.  Often parsley plants are quite small, and after picking from them a few times, there isn’t much of the plant left, but this plant was amazing.  It was allowed to grow until it was quite large and then when we picked from it, a few days later it seemed that it had regrown to the same size again.  We picked parsley from that plant again and again for several years.  In fact if we didn’t pick from the plant the leaves would start to get too long and the quality would deteriorate, so picking from the plant actually made it healthier.  There were times when we picked maybe a bit too much from the plant and then it would be left a bit bare and take awhile to regrow, but if we took care of it and gave it the time it needed without taking mare from it, regrow it did back to its former health and lushness.

I think each of us is a bit like the Italian parsley plant.  Giving makes us healthier and more lush, but we sometimes need to make sure that we manage the level of our giving so that it doesn’t make us weak.  If we do find that we have been giving too much, sometimes we need to take a break and take care of ourselves to let ourselves recuperate so that we can get back to giving joyfully.  When we do this we help not only ourselves, but also those we give to, as we are better able to give when we are healthy, strong and happy ourselves.

Inefficient tax gathering

I just wanted to post this link, as much to remind myself of it as anything else.  Its an article about how hard it is to gather tax in the developing international economy.  I take from it a message about the inefficiency of a system based on taking (ie coercion) rather than true free will.

People will often try to avoid things they are coerced into (like taxes) and so it becomes difficult and inefficient to make these systems work.  There is a little example in the article that gives a little insight into the scale of these inefficiencies.  It refers to the threshold for charging GST (goods and services tax) on packages imported into New Zealand.  This threshold kicks in at $400.  It says in the article that this threshold is derived from the cost of inspecting a package and its documentation as it comes into the country.  GST is 15% here in New Zealand, so the implication is that the process of inspecting the goods and gathering that tax is around $60 per package… Coercion systems are inherently  inefficient.

I dream of a world based around greater freewill which cuts out this inefficiency and makes a better world for all of us.  I know its a bit hard to imagine this working, but it doesn’t hurt to dream.

Anyway, heres the link: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11211133