How the use economy can replace the economy of more more more.
We currently live in an economy of more more more. We have much more than we can possibly use. Look around you. What is it that you truly use? In workshops that I teach across four continents my students find that they use only a small percentage of what they own. I encourage them to give away what they do not use, to find creative ways to find others who would truly use what they own but do not use. Regardless of where my students live, regardless of how rich or poor their circumstances are, this exercise in keeping and giving has a powerful effect on their lives and on the lives of all others touched by this act.
When we consume only that which we find to be useful we release that which we do not find useful from our lives. Our lives grow lighter. We find we need a lot less than we thought we did and we don't need to work as hard. In fact over time we quit the rat race and find simple ways of making a living that are more than sufficient for earning the resources that we need to enable us to have everything that we truly use. The things that we discard, that we have found are not useful to us, enter into general circulation. There is always someone somewhere in the world who will find a use for that which we do not have a use for. It enhances their lives, makes their lives lighter for they will obtain these things at a fraction of the effort it would have taken them in the normal market economy to obtain. They need to work less, they can quit the rat race and have everything that they need to live a good life.
The key in understanding a use economy is that resources are limited. When we give away what we do not have an immediate and pressing use for, we release waves of resources that reach the people who need them. The use economy releases resources that were previously frozen and sets into motion an equitable distribution of these resources. Resources are redistributed from ownership to use, from hoarding to circulation.
As we enjoy only that which we use and lighten our lives of the heavy burden of the useless clutter of modern living we refuse to be brainwashed into entering the more more more economy. We leave the present system of more more more behind and start looking for simple ways of living and sharing.
Exercise (for students in my Brazil and United States workshop)
Have paper and pen ready before you and then close you eyes. I am going to count from 0 to 10 and each time you hear a number I want you to see, more and more clearly, your material world, the world of the stuff that you possess. Enter your imagination as I count to 10.
You see yourself in your home or your room with all your belongings. Use your mind's eye to examine everything that you own. 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9, and 10.
Look around you with your mind's eye slowly and carefully. What is it that you truly use? We currently live in an economy of more more more. We have much more than we can possibly use. Start separating the things that you use from the things that you don't use. Arrange them in neat piles. You may find that you use only a small percentage of what you own. Don't worry about it, don't judge yourself, just keep making tidy piles of that which you use and that which you don't use. You have three minutes to separate your belongings into these two piles. Don't worry about getting to every single thing that you own, just go along with what presents itself to your mind.
Now I am going to count backwards from 10 to 0 and each time you hear a number I want you to bring your attention slowly back to the present, back to our workshop space, and by the time I get to 0 you will have your eyes open.
10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, and 0. Now pick up you pen and make two neat columns on your paper in front of you. One column for the things that you use and another for the things that you don't use. You have ten minutes to complete these two lists.
Now, you are obviously going to keep all the things that you use. However for each thing that you do not use I am going to encourage you to give it away! Can you find creative ways to find others who would truly use these things that you own but do not use? Jot down some ideas next to each item.
Before next class find creative ways to give away any three items from your list of things that you do not use and come prepared to share your experience in doing so. I want you to think of how this act of giving affected both you all others touched by this act.