I’d like to share a hodgepodge of thoughts on the economics of relationship.
A prosperous relationship is one with an abundant flow of giving and receiving – both of which are crucial to the vitality of relational life. When we give freely, without expectations, we are enriched. When we receive freely, without hesitation, we are equally enriched. In a prosperous, generous relationship, distinctions between giving and receiving dissolve. It’s all part of one flow.
When a relationship is in economic recession, the flow of giving and receiving is clogged. We get stingy with each other and withhold giving. Withholding can be a way of life - or a way of attempting control in a relationship. Some of us watch carefully to make sure we don’t give more than we get. Sometimes, we give in order to get. In that case, our gift is really a form of taking.
I find myself, at times, following the golden rule. I give unto others what I’d like them to give unto me – often a good strategy, but not always. Skillful giving requires me to appreciate the other person’s language of love, to know the kind of gift that speaks deeply to him/her, to embrace the stretching of self that relationship requires.
We can also clog up the flow of relational life by not permitting ourselves the fullness of receiving. Perhaps, stuck in scarcity thinking, we see a gift to us as a loss for the other. Perhaps we feel unworthy or suspicious or reluctant to incur a debt.
The economic model of abundance starts with receiving – daring to open ourselves to the energy flow of an extravagant universe. If only we allow it, this energy comes to us in myriad ways: from the sparkle of sunshine on freshly fallen snow, to the smiling eyes of a dear friend, to the vast quiet of a morning meditation.
In the economic model of abundance, giving freely – from a place of connection with ourselves and with the energy of life flowing through us – does not deplete us. Pushing ourselves to give from a place of obligation, disconnected from the natural flow of life, does deplete. And, as we are mindful of depletion, we are invited to re-connect and let ourselves be guided by that re-connection.
There’s an old saying: The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence – it’s greener where we water it. As we water the grass of our life energy and the grass of our important relationships, we create a pasture of plenty.
How good can we stand it?