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Gifts of Self

The word gift has an interesting double meaning – it is both that which we give away and a natural talent or endowment. What’s the connection?

We far too often look at life from a perspective of scarcity. We go through each day feeling that there isn't enough, and that we aren't enough.

When you wake up in the morning, the first thought you may have is “I didn't get enough sleep,” or “I won't have enough time to get to work on time.” Later in the day you may think “We don't have enough money to do the things we want,” or, if you're running a volunteer organization, “there aren't enough volunteers,” or if you're running a profit-making organization, “We aren't making enough money.”

Over-consumption is the flip side of scarcity. We are bombarded with messages telling us that we're not whole until we buy this product, that we're not beautiful until we use this on our hair – we're not complete, we're not sufficient. When we acquire things we don't need in an attempt to feel more whole, we end up devoting considerable time to maintaining, storing, upgrading, and protecting these belongings. We begin to believe that we are our home or our car. Caught up in the vicious cycle of time and money scarcity, over-consumption, and emptiness, we feel incomplete while driving the whole planet down an unsustainable track.

I have found that this cycle of wealth and over-consumption is as intractable as the cycle of poverty. Yet we have the opporunity to live in a place of sufficiency – that is to have exactly what we need; to have and to be enough.

I've noticed that if we let go of trying to get more of what we don't really need, we free up oceans of energy to make a difference with what we already have. And when we do that, what we already have expands – it means more. This not only frees up our personal energy, it frees up the resources of the planet to be used where they're really needed. In a time of unprecedented challenges to our living environment and to our sense of wholeness and well-being, a great many people are beginning to create a context of sufficiency and integrity.

One way of expressing this value is to use our time and money to reflect our highest ideals. When we invest in things that will leave the planet better than we found it, we are no longer simply spending time or money. We are, in fact, discovering our own wealth and wholeness through our gifts.

One of my goals as a fund-raiser is to enable people to assign their money (and their time) as a way to fulfill their highest commitments to change, to transformation, and to a more loving, peaceful, and sustainable world.


Lynne Twist is the co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance and was the director of fundraising with The Hunger Project for many years. She is a member of the boards of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, the Fetzer Institute and the Global Security Institute.

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