Awkward conversations

As I have continued with my give freely receive freely experiment, I have of course continued to have conversations with people about what I am doing and why I am doing  it.  For the most part these conversations have been really positive, often with people expressing what a great idea it is and that they hope I have lots of success etc etc.  But then some of the conversations have just been awkward…

Part of this is probably due to me not being all that great at expressing my ideas about GFRF yet, and then part of it is probably that the idea is so different from what people are used to and have experienced for their entire lives that they really struggle to understand what its about.  Some of our ideas about exchange are so deeply embedded that they become invisible to us, they become fundamental assumptions that we do not question or even necessarily realize exist.  So when a new idea is presented to us that operates outside those sets of assumptions we still try to interpret them in the context of our underlying assumptions even though they don’t apply, and this can lead to confusion and misunderstanding.

In a way its a bit like trying to tell someone that ‘there is no spoon’, those who’s minds are ready embrace the idea readily, while others just think you’re weird.  I guess what I need to do is demonstrate that there is no spoon to help them to understand.  I’m working on it but I think it’ll take some time.  (If you don’t get the reference, watch the video clip below, and if you do get the reference still watch the video – its a great scene).

So in this post I thought I’d mention some of the comments or misunderstandings I’ve encountered in my awkward conversations.

One of the biggest misconceptions I have encountered has been that by using ‘Give Freely Receive Freely’ I am not valuing what I do.  One quote “Yeah I get what you’re doing, but I don’t think I could do that myself because I value my time too much”.  Honestly this couldn’t be further from the truth.  The way I see it is that I value my time so highly that I don’t want to put a price on it.  The moment I put a price on my time, even a very high price, it becomes a commodity to be bought and sold.  My life, and my time is more valuable to me than that, I will however give it freely at my own discretion.

Another misconception related to this when I mention this system of exchange is that I am expecting people to pay less because of this.  Again not true.  Essentially I expect people give to me freely in return because they want to support what I am doing.  This is not tied to any particular price level.  People will give according to their means and the value they find in what I provide.  I want people to find and evaluate that value for themselves though.  Too often our ideas about value are determined by marketing efforts or by power relationships (monopolies, cartels, vulnerability of one of the parties to the exchange) rather than by the actual value of what is provided.  This leads to distortions in our economy and society and causes resources to be directed to things that aren’t actually useful to us and to be diverted from things that are.  If each of us is able to determine value for ourselves then our individual and collective resources would go to the things that are truly worthwhile and make us happy, rather than being wasted on things that actually contribute no value to our lives.  (Many of the things our money and therefore resources go to under our current way of operating, far from adding value to our lives actually take it away – more on this in another post).

(A classic example of price being determined by marketing rather than true value in this article.  A $3000 vacuum cleaner that doesn’t perform as well as a $100 one: ).

I believe there is great value in what I do, that it really helps people in their lives, and that left to find the value themselves they will value this appropriately.  Of course there is the challenge of helping people see past the common externally imposed marketing and power relationship driven value system, but you’ve got to start somewhere and I believe that exchanging in this way may actually cause people to value what I do more highly than if I put a set price on it.  Most people are actually quite intelligent if you give them a chance to be.

A third misconception again related to the other two, is that somehow by doing this I have given up on having all the things our material society values.  Basic things like owning my own house, take holidays and so on.  Again not true at all, I still want those things and think I have a good, maybe even better chance of receiving them by giving freely and receiving freely than by charging set prices.

What I have given up on is the idea of struggling and competing against others in my society.  I guess you could say I have given up on the rat race, but I don’t think that the rat race is the only way to achieve those material aims.  I think there is a better way, and that is what I am pursuing.  This way involves more trust and more co-operation with others in our society.  It will bring out the best in me so that I end up contributing more that is of true value to individuals and society without wasting as much energy on the things that are not of value; and if it works properly I will receive more in return for the true value I create.

This way is the Give Freely Receive Freely way.  I hope you’ll continue to follow my journey as I explore these ideas and learn how to make this work in practice.

Give and Receive versus Give and Take

‘Give and take’ is a commonly used phrase in our culture.  I think there is a lot of truth in this concept and it sounds similar to the idea of ‘give and receive’, so I thought I’d take a closer look at the similarities and differences between these two ideas.

To start with they both describe some form of exchange between more than one party.  This may be an exchange of any sort, it could be of labour, information and ideas, money or goods and so on.


Inherent within the phrase ‘give and take’ is an implied compromise.  In the case of exchange of ideas it implies that you will take on board at least some of another person’s ideas in order that some portion of your ideas will be accepted.  This is something that goes on in politics all the time, and part of what can make it difficult for a politician to keep their integrity as they can be placed in situations where in order to progress ideas (legislation) that they believe in they are faced with making compromises that progress other peoples ideas (amendments, or other pieces of legislation) that they may not believe in.  I don’t envy politicians the difficult decisions they must sometimes make in these situations.

On a smaller scale this happens in our everyday interactions with the people around us all the time.  Going out to dinner with friends, different members of your group may feel like different types of food and others may not really mind what they eat.  In order for the greater good or happiness of the group, several group members may compromise on what they want to eat, agreeing on something that is not their first choice but is acceptable to all so that the group may happily share in each other’s company for the meal.

In terms of exchange of labour, money or goods, there is an implication that both parties will not get everything they want out of the exchange, but will give something up that they want in order that they can get something else that they want or need more.  At its extreme you could take this as implying that each party would rather not give up anything in order to get what the other person is offering, they would rather keep it for themselves AND have what the other person is offering.  Thus what they put into the exchange is ‘taken’ from them as they would rather not actually give it up, even if they do agree to the exchange.

For example if I were to go out to buy some donuts, the donut vendor would put a price on his donuts that he will take for them, lets say $10 for a dozen.  In a ‘give and take’ relationship there is an implication that I would rather keep my $10 and have the donuts as well, but because I want the donuts more than the $10 I give up the money, so that I can take the donuts.  The converse is true of for the donut seller.  The exchange is free in that we both agree to it, but not completely free in that there is a set price required in order for me to obtain the donuts.  I don’t have the option of paying $5 for them, or giving no money at all.  Equally it is unlikely that I will pay $20 for them because in these types of exchanges we tend to give as little as we can so that we can keep more for ourselves.  Thus the idea of give and take tends to imply and reinforce the idea of a world of scarcity.

Compulsion – Take and be Taken From

Because the idea of scarcity is implicit in ‘give and take’ exchanges, it means that parties to the exchange cannot all have everything they want.  They have to give up something they want in order that they can have or share in something that they want more.  This means that there is always a certain begrudging tone to the exchange, both parties have agreed to the exchange but they would rather not actually give up what they have agreed to if they can avoid it – it must be taken from them.  This implies a certain level of compulsion in the exchange, and this is the case with most transactions in the world today, there is either an implicit or explicit contract which means that if one party gives up certain things they are entitled to ‘take’ certain things in return as part of the transaction contract.  Failure of one party to supply what they agreed can lead to the contract being enforced against them so the other party can take what was agreed, possibly including penalties and using external enforcement agencies such as police, courts and so on.

In a sense because the exchange is a two way exchange, and each party is entitled to ‘take’ what is agreed from the other party, ‘give and take’ is actually ‘take and be taken from’.  This leads to great conflict in the world, as each person ‘fights’ for their own best interests.

Extreme interpretation

I know this sounds like an extreme interpretation of the situation, and I certainly think that ‘give and take’ and its implied negotiated agreement of exchange is far preferable to ‘take what you want’ or ‘might is right’, but I hope that this interpretation will make more sense to you as we look more into an alternative view of exchange and we discuss more issues surrounding our current exchange environment in future blog posts.  When we have become used to a certain way of viewing and interacting with the world it tends to become embedded in our thinking to the extent that its underlying assumptions become invisible to us.  When we really examine our view in depth we can sometimes be surprised by what we find lying underneath it.

Not convinced that being ‘taken from’ is a common implied part of our normal day to day exchanges?  Have you ever had to dispute a bill or invoice you disagreed with?  It takes considerable effort, and the company in question may try to ‘take’ what they think they are owed through various types of enforcement.  Have you ever tried not paying your taxes?  The tax department will find ways to take those taxes from you or enforce penalties against you.

Turns both into ‘Givers’

Ok, so lets turn our discussion from ‘give and take’ to an alternative concept of exchange ‘give and recieve’.  The key difference is of course the substitution of the word ‘take’ with ‘recieve’.  This has quite significant implications for the exchange relationship.  Each party to the exchange effectively becomes a giver rather than a taker.  They each give what it is that they want to give and receive in return what the other party wants to give.  There is no compulsion in the exchange, as each party gives only what they want to and the other party has no right to demand more or something different as the giving was not conditional on what would be received – there are no rights to ‘take’.

This implies that each party is willing to give things up even if they receive nothing for them in return, this in turn implies a world of abundance where each party can have what they want without worrying about getting what the other party has from them.


The giving instead of being due to obligation or fear of repercussions becomes an expression of gratitude and possibly of concern for the wellbeing of the other person. The focus instead of being how much you can get from the other person and how little you can contribute in the exchange, switches to appreciation of what your are receiving, and thinking about how much you are able to give freely in return.

Even if the exact same amount of money, information, goods or services are exchanged in this way as would be exchanged in a ‘give and take’ relationship, the net result is different.  Because of the freedom of the exchange, there is no room for begrudging the other party which can occur when things are ‘taken’.  Instead as parties to the exchange think about the welfare of the other person when deciding what and how much to give, this can create positive feelings towards each other.  The inherent gratitude underlying the exchange means that the focus is put on what each person has, instead of what they don’t have.  This is a powerful change of mindset and can help each party to recognize the abundance in the world and be happy and contented with what they have, instead of always seeking for more (whether or not they actually need it).


In terms of information exchange, to give and receive freely implies that there is no need to compromise your personal views when exchanging ideas with other people.  Both parties to the exchange give their ideas freely without any expectation or need for the other person to take on those ideas.  Each person is free to take on as much or as little from the other person as they want to.  I think as a society we are coming closer and closer to this ideal.  Whereas in the past people tended to easily become suspicious or uncomfortable with people who thought or acted differently, many of us are now completely comfortable living alongside people with very different views and lifestyles to our own, and in many cases even enjoy and celebrate the diversity.

To refer back to the dining out example used earlier in this post, giving and receiving ideas freely is a bit like being able to eat at a foodcourt or buffet where everyone can get exactly what they want.  No-one has to compromise their personal tastes to enjoy the meal with others.  The fact that someone else chooses to eat something different to you doesn’t detract from your enjoyment at all and in fact may give you the opportunity to try something new that you would like – but only if you want to.

In terms of exchange of goods, people only give what they want to.  The never feel compelled to give up something that they don’t want to, and they never feel compelled to give up more than they want to.  This means that they enter into the exchange with a very different set of expectations.  This has big  implications in the areas of job satisfaction and work/life balance.


Give and take has a lot going for it.  I think this concept encapsulates some of the significant progress we have made as a society over the years, but the ‘take’ part of it has it’s downside as this can imply compulsion and no-one likes to be taken from.  I think ‘give and receive’ could be another step forward for our society bringing greater social harmony and appreciation of the amazing abundant world we live in.

I may have overstated, understated or expressed poorly some of the ideas in this blog post.  I’m really just trying to figure a lot of this stuff out myself.  As mentioned in the post, these ideas are given freely and you don’t have to take any of them onboard if you don’t want to.  I do hope you’ll stick with me though as I continue to explore these ideas and further refine and develop them.  The idea of a world of free exchange raises many intriguing questions which I intend to explore in future blog posts, as well as continuing to post updates on my own practical experimentation with these ideas.


China – no fixed price

I have just got back from my trip to China.  My purpose in going was mainly for my kung fu and qigong teaching, to check out the schools there, gain ideas and inspiration, and prepare for when groups from my school may make trips there.  But I also found that I had a lot of experiences and saw a lot of things that gave me food for thought about the ‘give freely receive freely’ concept.

The Great Wall of China

One thing that was particularly relevant was that in China there is no fixed price on almost anything.  Almost everything is negotiable and the locals expect there to be some haggling before a final price is established at which an exchange will take place.  At one of the major markets the vendors will typically ask in the region of 10 times what they will actually accept for what they are selling.  Then a drawn out negotiation begins during which they will act like whatever price you suggest is ridiculous, tell you how other people they would normally quote a higher price for but for you they quoted a reasonable price, they will try and show you inferior products and suggest that maybe you could buy one of them instead, they will suggest a price not much lower than they initially offered, you walk away and then they call after you with a better price, they may act sad, angry etc and then eventually you come to a price you a both happy with.

Inside a market in Shanghai

The process can be entertaining I suppose, but also takes quite a bit of time.  On the two occasions when I tried to shorten the process and get to a price I was happy with faster (and KNEW I could get from experience with other stallholders), they wouldn’t sell to me.  It seems like in order to get a reasonable price I HAD to go through the charade, even though getting to a price we both new was reasonable faster would have saved both of us a lot of time and energy.  After awhile I began to avoid the markets because I didn’t want to put so much time and effort into a simple transaction, although I suppose I would still go there if there was something I really needed.

But it doesn’t stop there, even in the big flash department stores with marked prices on everything, apparently things are still negotiable.  It became very difficult to know what price to really expect for things.

The bright lights of East Nanjing Road, lots of upmarket big brand shopping.

The one exception was food.  I had a long conversation about this with a Chinese lady who  made sure to let me know that I should negotiate on absolutely EVERYTHING in China with the only exception being food, for food the price was the price.  She probably wasn’t aware that there was a slight proviso to that, the price is the price as long as you are CHINESE.  Probably 90% of the time or more I think the people selling me food just charged me the same price as they would anyone else, but there were a couple of occasions at fruit shops where I was charged far more than I should have been.  At one of these I know I was charged 10 times the price of a local, because I saw what a local was charged for the same items.  I could have entered into negotiations at this point to get a better price, but was quite bemused by the whole thing at the time so just paid the money and left.  But while I may have had more money than some of the locals, I certainly did not have enough that I would have been able to afford that price for food on a regular basis, so if I had been staying in the area I never would have bought from that shop again.

A fruit and vegetable stall at Deng Feng (not one of the ones I was ripped off at)

So how does this all tie in to the ‘give freely, receive freely’ concept?  Well for a start in many ways I liked there not being a fixed price, it provided a mechanism by which those with more could pay more and those with less could pay less.  A lot of the time I am sure that even with some hard bargaining I still paid considerably more than a local would, and I don’t mind that, because it was a price I could afford and was happy with.  The bargaining to reach a price though became tedious and time consuming.  So much energy was put into the transaction by both sides to make sure they got as much (or gave as little) as possible in the deal.  Surely we all would be better off if this energy was put into other productive things.  With give freely receive freely, no energy is expended on negotiation, meaning we all have more time and energy for the things we really want and need in life.

It is very hard for us to know the circumstances of everyone we deal with.  Sometimes the initial price quoted by a vendor would be so high it seemed ridiculous even to a westerner used to paying more in their home country.  They really seemed to have little conception of what would seem like a reasonable price to us.  On the other hand, for a foreigner it was very hard to tell where the true local price point was, because many things were so cheap that you could pay two or three times what a local would and still feel like you got a pretty good price.  Using a give freely receive freely approach means that we do not judge the circumstances of another but let them give according to what they can.  I wonder how some of the stall holders might have fared under such a system.  I know there were times when I would have gladly paid more for something, but the whole mindset of bargaining sets you up to try and get as low a price as you possibly can (or have the time and patience to bargain for).

I also respected the fact that for food at least the price was usually the price.  I think there is a basic human understanding  that there are certain things we need to survive so at least for those things we should deal fairly with each other.  While it was possible to pay a lot for food in China, there seemed to always be very cheap options as well, even in the big cities, that I think even the poor would have been able to afford.  For the most part I think I was treated decently by the people selling food in China, and I appreciated that.  Maybe the exceptions with the fruit could be due to fruit being viewed as a luxury?  I’m not sure about that.

Yummy noodles in Deng Feng, apparently the Henan province noodles are quite famous.

When we deal unfairly with someone in our community, it may make us a short term profit, but ultimately in the long run do us harm.  In the case of the fruit stands that charged excessively for what I bought from them, they would have really lost out if I had stayed in the area.  I eat quite a lot of fruit, but having been ripped of once, I would not go back to that shop, I would find somewhere that charged me fairly and they would get all my business.  I am sure this also has wider implications that will affect those involved even if they manage to only overcharge those who would not be returning to their shop anyway.  The world is all interconnected and our actions tend to have ripple effects.  Others would observe how the shop owner treated foreigners, and this in turn would shape their view of the shop owner and how they interact with them, I’m sure in the end there would be some effect even if not immediately – a bit like the concept of karma.

So all up China was an interesting and thought provoking experience.  There were many other things I saw or experienced while I was there that have a bearing on ‘give freely, receive freely’ too, but I think I will write about those more when I get to writing about various specific topics.

My ‘Give Freely Receive Freely’ Experiment Update – June 2012

Well its been almost two months since I began my ‘give freely receive freely’ experiment, so I thought it was about time I posted an update about how it has been going.

To re-cap, I am trying this experiment with my clinical work (Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong Therapy, Massage and Lifestyle Advice).  You can read the explanation that I first posted about this on my clinic website here:


Since that time I would guess that maybe about 40% of my clients have paid a bit more than they would have in the past, about 40% have paid about the same and maybe 20% have paid a bit less.  So overall, I think I am a bit ahead in terms of the money I have received for my clinical work compared to what I would have under my previous set price approach.

I have not had a huge rush of people booking in for treatment as some people thought I would with this pricing approach, and I think there are two reasons for that.

1. I think that still not a lot of people know that I am using this ‘give freely, receive freely’ exchange idea.

2. People are unfamiliar with the idea, and maybe a little uncomfortable about it.


This is not surprising at all as it is an unusual idea and one which is quite different to what we are used to in our normal day to day transactions.  Some people have actually done some research into this kind of exchange – referring to it as ‘pay what you want’.   You can read about some of this research here:

One of the key findings from the research was that less people would buy something paying whatever they want for it (even though they could pay nothing if they wanted to) than would buy something with a low set price.  I believe that this is because most people have an innate sense of what is a fair exchange, and only want to engage in exchanges that feel fair to them.

I believe this is a very good thing – even if it does not maximize income.  My aim in experimenting with this type of exchange is not to maximize the money I receive, although I certainly wish to have enough to pay for my needs my main aim is to engage in a more free type of exchange with people that encourages them to think about and recognize the true value of what they are doing.  This requires thought and can be quite difficult when people are not used to considering economic transactions in this way.  It is also to make my services affordable to everyone, not matter what their economic circumstances may be.

Therapeutic Value

From a therapeutic point of view I believe that this type of exchange can be beneficial because it causes the patient to consciously think about the value of the treatment they receive.  All to often we go through life not thinking about the reason or value of what we are doing.  By consciously thinking about this it helps to open the way for the patient to actually ‘receive’ the benefit of the treatment.  In the end while I as a practitioner will have an effect on the health of my patients, most of the work is going to be done by them.  It is their cells that will have to repair themselves, it is them who may have to do remedial exercises, it is them who may need to make changes to eating habits, lifestyle and thinking patterns.  Conscious engagement in assigning value to the sessions they have with me can help to create commitment on both a conscious and unconscious level to follow through on what they need to do to become well.

This type of conscious engagement can then spill over into other areas of their lives as they learn to recognize value in what they do.  They will hopefully continue and do more of the things that are truly valuable and find themselves doing less and less of those things that have little value or even take value away.

It has been interesting over the last few weeks as I have shared this ‘give freely receive freely’ idea with people.  I have found myself eager to see a new client or one I haven’t seen in awhile, as much to share this concept with them as for any other reason.  I have seen many smiles, nods of agreement and a few laughs as people have heard or read about the concept.  Some people have been excited and enthusiastic, others self conscious and maybe a little confused.  No-one has been outright negative.  One client who was not very happy with his work situation told me that what I am doing had inspired him to investigate a new joint venture opportunity that was coming up.

The Experiment Continues

It is early days for the experiment yet.  I plan to keep it going for now, and maybe permanently.  I am actually already thinking about how I might be able to viably use this concept for some of the other services I offer.

I do hope that as I continue people will become more and more comfortable with this concept.  ‘Give freely, receive freely’ does not mean that you suddenly have to pay more for something to show that you fully value it, it does mean that you have to engage with your role in an exchange and deal with concepts of value, integrity and fairness.  I hope that people will remember that what is ‘fair’ for them to give in an exchange has a lot to do with their resources.  Those who have little should not feel bad that they can only give little.  Those who have a lot should feel good that they are able to give a lot.  And those people somewhere in between (which is probably most of us) need to be realistic about what they can give in an exchange – so that they are satisfied and feel good about the exchange, both what they have received and what they have given.

(Those who are scripturally inclined might like to check out these links Mark 12: 41-44, Mosiah 4:27)

I know that this is challenging and maybe even confronting when you are used to having the price of something set for you.  But I think there is real value for both parties to exchanging in this way.

I have quite a lot more that I would like to write about ‘give freely, receive freely’ and the way it can change our perception of the world around us and our relationships with others. That is why I have set up this blog.  I think the idea has potential, and I am sure I will learn a lot more about it as I experiment with it in practice. I realize that to some of you this whole concept seems very strange, but I hope that you will continue to read this blog as I post more about my ideas and experiences with this concept, and maybe it will still seem strange to you, or maybe it will start to make sense.  At the very least I hope it will give you some food for thought and maybe even some entertainment.

Follow on from last post

When too much of our focus is on money, we can become like a machine 0011011110010111101001010101010011010101  :S  with the obvious problems this entails.  Everything becomes a system to be optimized – running the risk of missing the point.

This article in Time looks at an example of the kind of problems of using ‘machine’ thinking (literally).  Do we really want to live our lives this way?




Is the love of money really the root of all evil?

You’ve probably heard the saying “The love of money is the root of all evil”.  It comes from the bible in 1 Timothy chapter 6 verse 10.  It’s quite a bold statement, identifying a single cause as the root of evil.  But is it true?  and if so why?

I think to understand the statement we need to look at it carefully.  It doesn’t say the love of good food is the root of all evil.  It doesn’t say the love of fast cars is the root of all evil.  It doesn’t say the love of houses, clothes, fashion, jewelry, holidays, entertainment, international travel or art is the root of all evil.  It specifically identifies love of MONEY as the root, not these other things which we sometimes associate with money implying perhaps that it is possible to love these other things without it leading to evil – but not money.

Whats wrong with money?

So whats wrong with money?  Well money is pretty useful in many ways, it is hard to imagine a means of exchange that would allow the for efficient movement of goods and services without some form of money, whether that be printed pieces of paper, chunks of metal, beads, or more recently recorded electronic data.  It would be hard to obtain many of the wonderful things we have available to us today if we had to directly trade goods and services with each other for everything we wanted.  I am not sure what Lenovo would want from me in exchange for this laptop I’m typing this post on, and I have no idea what I would trade directly with my internet provider for their services which I will use to upload this post to my blog.  Money allows us to participate in exchange for a wide variety of goods and services whether or not the provider of those goods and services wants anything we can provide because as long as we can exchange what we provide what someone else wants we can use money as a common denominator and medium of exchange.

When you think about it, money is actually pretty wonderful, so what is wrong with loving it?  I think the problem becomes apparent when we dig more into what money actually is.  Essentially money is ‘made up’, there is no intrinsic value in the electronic bits of data that represent money for most of us today.  If you try to eat it, you will gain no nutritional value.  If you try to use it to protect you from the weather, you will gain no shelter.  Money is an abstract representation of underlying value, BUT it does not truly have any value itself.

How does a money focus obscure or detract from true meaning and value?

I think when we begin to love money, we begin to separate ourselves from understanding and loving REAL things with REAL VALUE in our lives.  Essentially we start to miss the point and love something that is not real which leads us no longer understand the true value of things.

There are many examples of this in life which are easy to identify and for us to understand.

When an artist decides that they will create their art with a primary focus on how much money they will make from it, most people consider that this in someway debases and devalues their art.  It no longer has the depth of meaning, beauty and integrity of art that has been produced with some other primary motivation.  A classic example of this are the Hollywood movies where the decisions have made by executives with only money in mind, they may still be quite entertaining, but they end up being a bit bland and generic compared  to a film where someone has been allowed to express their own authentic creative vision.  Somehow they seem to lack soul.

The extreme example of this would have to be prostitution where sex is bought for money. While this is becoming legal in more and more parts of the world, most people still consider that this cheapens the experience of sex as it becomes separated from emotions of love, commitment and so on.  What physically takes place may be exactly the same, but because the motivation is money, somehow the meaning changes.

I think this general principle carries over into all areas of our lives.  Whatever we do purely for money is somehow cheapened and not as highly valued as the things we do for some other reason.

Of course there is no reason why you can’t earn money from doing the things you love, and I think this is true of the happiest people in this world.  They have found things that they love and feel good about doing, and found a way to be paid the money they need to get by in this world while doing it.  But if you asked them why they do what they do – they would not say it is for the money.  You might get answers along the lines of that they are following their passion, they like making a difference in people’s lives, it makes them feel good, they have a creative vision they want to fulfill and so on.  In fact you would likely find that these same people would be doing the things that they do even if there wasn’t any money involved because they appreciate the intrinsic value of it and happily they also get paid to do it.

The problem comes when money becomes the prime motivator, and this can occur even in areas where the individual previously had a non-monetary motivation.  When the focus shifts to the money, the value and meaning of the activity goes out of focus.  This often results in people doing things they don’t really want to do – for money.  They feel they just have to.  How many people work at jobs they hate and which seem to have little meaning for them, but they do it for the money?  It is likely that the job has value, and that they may even enjoy the job if they were able to reconnect with that value as their motivation; but the money focus takes the meaning out of it.

Also how many people would take food away from hungry people, or take someones house from them?  Very few, when these things happen there is usually an outcry because people sense the injustice of the situation and do not wish others to be harmed.  But how many people will allow someone to buy a product they cannot afford, or charge fees for services at a level that people who need them cannot pay?  Many people do every day.  Somehow the layer of abstraction and separation from meaning that money provides makes these things much more palatable as the effect on the other person is not as obvious.

And then of course there are those people who actively embrace their love for money and make it their prime objective.  Are these people happy?  They can seem that way at least for a while as they achieve a measure of success within their own definition.  But what are the things that really make us happy in this life?  The exact details are probably different for different people but I would guess there are a few common factors: good food, adequate shelter, good health, loving relationships with family and friends, a means of expressing yourself and believing that what you do has purpose and meaning.  I think all too often those who put money as their goal find at some point that they have sacrificed one or more of things in their pursuit of money.

How do we overcome this problem?

So how then do we overcome a love for money?  I think we need to connect or reconnect with the value and meaning of our actions.  When we do this we are more likely to act with integrity, compassion and passion.  I am sure that many people are able to do this within an ordinary job or payment system, but for many of us it is a real challenge as the constant need for ‘money’ even just to pay for the basics of food, shelter, clothing etc can cause us to take our eye off the real value of things.

Various religious orders have addressed this issue by swearing vows of poverty, renouncing all property and wealth and living only on the donations of others.  In this way they can be sure that their actions are not motivated by money.  These same religious orders tend to isolate themselves from the rest of the world so that they can concentrate on their prayer and meditation.

I think the ‘give freely, receive freely’ concept can give these same benefits without the same need for religiosity or isolation from the world.  In fact it encourages us to engage fully with the world around us and focus on giving as much of value as we can to the people we interact with, but as we do not know what we will receive in turn, it helps us to keep our focus on the true value of what we are doing isolate this from the exchange of money which may or may not take place as a result of this.

My experience

I know for myself as I have begun to experiment with giving and receiving freely in my clinical work I have found that it is easier for me to focus purely on the client and the treatment they are receiving.  I do not feel the same need to keep track of time, to make sure I don’t go overtime or equally to make sure that I fill the whole appointment time up so that they will get good ‘value for money’.  Instead I am able to focus more on exactly what they need.  If I have done all I feel is best for them at the moment and there is still time left, I don’t need to pad out the treatment – as they are only going to pay me what they want to anyway.  Equally I no longer have to think of my ‘time as money’ and make sure the client doesn’t take too much of it either.  Of course I still need to keep track of time from the point of view of scheduling and allowing the client to get to other appointments they may have as well, but not having a set price somehow removes this strong association between my time and money.

I really like that aspect of it.  Time really isn’t money, it is far more precious than that.  Removing money from the time equation makes each moment of life more alive and meaningful.


So is love of money really the root of all evil?  I think there is a really good case for saying that it is, especially if you put it into context as robbing actions of their true meaning and value as the root of all evil.

Does this mean we have to forsake money and all the good things we can obtain with it in order to overcome evil?  I don’t think so.  I want the good things in life, and I think it is healthy to have them, money makes exchange so flexible I think it can make it easier for more of us to obtain those good things.  They key is to find a way to be connected with the meaning and intrinsic value of what you do and not let the abstracted value of money take your focus away from what really matters in life and what really makes you happy.

I have painted a few things in pretty broad brushstrokes in this post.  I may have got a few things wrong, and hey – I’m just new to this concept of exchange myself, I’m sure there is a lot more I will learn as I continue to experiment with it and my views on things may change.  But what are your thoughts on this topic?  Please feel free to leave comments below.

The ‘Give Freely, Receive Freely’ experiment

Hi everyone

A few weeks ago I started an experiment with giving freely and recieving freely.  I am doing this with my clinical work (I practice Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qigong and also offer Massage and Lifestyle Advice).  You can read what I initially posted explaining the idea, on my website for my clinic here:

The experiment is off to a fairly uneventful start (not a lot of people know about it yet), but as I have thought about it more and had conversations with people about it, I have realized that I have a lot more to say about the ‘give freely, recieve freely’ concept.  I think that it not just about an alternative way to look at money and exchange, but a concept that bridges over into other areas of our lives and how we view the world and interact with others.

So I have created this blog to share my further thoughts on giving and receiving freely.  I hope that you find them interesting and that I inspire a few people to look at the world a bit differently as a result.