Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Friday, January 17, 2020

Reclaiming the Gift Culture

By Shilpa Jain

What are the different traditions of the gift culture around the world? How can we bring the gift culture practically into our lives, communities, organizations?  What do we need to unlearn for the gift culture to manifest? What miracles can happen when we approach the world from a spirit of deep gratitude, empathy and trust? How is gift culture an essential part of a larger vision of social change and a new story for the planet?

In 2008, Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development (Udaipur, India) published “Reclaiming the Gift Culture” as a healthy antidote to the global push to commodify everything. The anthology features over 25 different authors.

In the spirit of intercultural dialogue, they offer stories, insights and conceptual frameworks around gift cultures from India, Mexico, Mali, Bolivia, Ukraine, Iran, Australia, the US, and more.  From big picture entries on shifting from Homo Economicus to Homo Giftus and the diversity of Solidarity Economies, to practical manifestations for regenerating the commons such as the Bhoodan land-gift movement to Wikipedia to an organization based entirely on service and random acts of kindness, the book opens the door to exploring gift culture at many levels.

Rethinking our dependency on the money system and alternative currencies being only one of the levels of how to ‘Be the Gift’ we want to share in the world. Gift culture has powerful implications for how we see and experience education, food, waste, energy, conflict, love, and many other seemingly mundane aspects of life.

Satish Kumar puts it simply: “When we write a poem we make a gift. When we paint a picture or build a beautiful house we make a gift. When we grow flowers and cook food we make a gift. When all these activities are performed as sacred acts, they nourish society. When we are unselfconscious, unacquisitive, and act without desire for recognition or reward, when our work emerges from a pure heart like that of a child, our actions become a gift, dana…”

The book seeks to invite skeptics into an authentic dialogue. As Amy Mall, one of the contributors, writes, “One may ask, ‘Why should I engage in gift culture, if I can afford not to?’ My question is, ‘Can you really afford not to?’” By not engaging in the gift culture, and instead only depending on money, don’t we limit personal health, happiness and the joy of community life? Perhaps, we are desensitized to these losses and are willing to trade them in without much examination. This may be why our basic needs for healthy organic food, caring relationships and self-expression are viewed as ‘luxuries’.” 

“Reclaiming the Gift Culture” also invites a deeper look into the transformative power of the gift, as it touches both giver and receiver, as they dance together throughout a gift culture encounter.  As Nitin Paranjape writes of his journey, “The question of why I feel awkward when receiving gifts might be related to the fact that I don’t like to be seen as vulnerable. Being at the receiving end of someone’s generosity is definitely one such moment! I think it’s time to change. Being vulnerable in front of others is an invitation to share a private moment. I realize the tremendous power of the gift culture. Creating a space of intimacy not only deepens our community bond, but also helps us to discover our inner worlds and to transform ourselves.”

Nearly six years since the book’s publishing, its expressions and stories still provide inspiration and guidance for building gift cultures more broadly and deeply in our world. The book recently helped give birth to Giftival – the Gift Culture Festival which was held in Turkey in 2013.

You can download the entire book from Shikshantar as a PDF and  gift here.

Shilpa Jain
Greetings from Mewar!
We are honored to bring forth a booklet exploring the gift culture in our lives. In these challenging times of dominating multinational corporations, collapsing neo-liberal economies, and the commodification of everything, it seems vital to explore a different form of relationship and exchange. ‘Gifting’, and the larger culture it draws from, provides a welcome oasis of hope from the hackneyed debates around capitalism vs. communism and the paralysis of TINA (There Is No Alternative). We put this intercultural dialogue together to try to share some of the important concepts, beliefs, practices and dreams around reclaiming the gift culture in our different spaces and places.
This is perhaps our most critical and important booklet to-date. We have come to understand that the ideas and practices of deep learning, self-organizing learning communities and vibrant learning ecosystems are predicated on a culture of generosity, care, trust and mutuality. The gift culture is critical to decommodifying our collective intelligence and underlying diverse human learning processes; that is, removing it from the realm of monoculture and artificial scarcity, monopolized packaging and distribution, and institutionalized hierarchy and exploitation. It is heart-wrenching to witness that learning processes that are essential to being human like play, laughter, Nature, storytelling, care, etc. are being commercialized and as a result, becoming accessible only to a small elite. The gift culture inspires us to see our learning resources and relationships as part of the larger commons that is accessible to all and nurtured by all.
The gift culture also fundamentally challenges our perceptions about ourselves. Engaging in the gift culture transforms our self and world understanding by reminding us that we are being given gifts all the time from many known and unknown sources. It graciously invites us back into our sacred role as active gift-givers – from homo economicus to homo giftus. We are able to recognize and re-value our own gifts as well as those others in our own terms. This is critical for de-institutionalizing our lives and our communities – to moving beyond Experts, Money, Technology, Nation-states, Rights for defining our identity and purpose in life – and for re-asserting our dignity as diverse co-creators of learning and life.
The gift culture also challenges the core underpinnings of the Global Market and the Development Project which are built on extraction and concentration of wealth and power and the spread of violence. The gift culture doesn’t mean that there are no markets, but rather we need to re-create a healthy set of cultural, spiritual and social values and rituals to limit the space/control of markets in our lives and relationships – a true ‘sense of the sacred’. Most importantly, the gift culture is the key to sustainable living and real happiness on the planet. By witnessing and appreciating our own gifts and the gifts of others, we open the possibility for the organic unfolding our whole beings and for accessing our deepest humanity to ensure the collective well-being of all life on the planet.
We should clarify at the outset that the gift culture is not some new fangled concept, rather it is based on ancient and sacred life sustaining principles that can be found in many diverse cultures around the world. When we started to think of examples in our region of Mewar, many inspiring images came to mind:
  • Hosting a pyaoo is the spiritual practice of sitting on the road and offering drinking water to those passing by – humans and animals alike. It is done in a spirit of sewa (selfless service for the benefit of all, performed without any expectation of reward or personal gain). The Sanskrit word, sewa, translates directly as ‘string’, implying that all things are connected in the thread of existence. In India, it is still a cause of great disbelief for many that corporations are charging money to provide clean drinking water to travellers.
  • There is also the ritual of manwar, which is a cultural act of offering, sharing yourself, your home and food, with your guests, with aspirit of great hospitality and care. No one should leave feeling neglected. There is saying in Mewari that your guests should be treated with the same affection as you treat your son-in-law. Manwar is experienced around weddings and other kinds of gatherings, but it also happens on a small-scale, just when one visits another’s home.
  • The traditional practice of gupt daan literally means ‘undisclosed giving’. One used to give donations with the understanding that no one, including the receiver, should know where it came from. This would protect the receiver from humiliation and help the giver retain their sense of humility. It also shields us from the trap of having expectations to receive something in return after giving a gift. Gupt daan stands in stark contrast to the modern practices of P.R. campaigns and photo shoots that surrounds donations and voluntary effort.
  • The Jain paradigm of aparigraha (non-acquisitiveness and non-possessiveness) serves as gentle reminder that we should not hold on to or covet things too tightly since we we are not ‘owners’ of life but rather its trustees. It also encourages us to move beyond unlimited greed and think about what our real needs are. In this way, it creates a healthy field for engaging in a discourse of self-imposed and self- organized limits.
When one actually sits down to think about it, the list is seemingly endless. There are many ‘modern’ ways that the gift culture is being invoked and experimented with as well. We have been trying to explore these as an essential part of our work in Shikshantar over the past 10 years. This starts with our community learning center where we do not charge any fees for participation. At the same time, we say it is not ‘free’. We invite people to come and share whatever talents, knowledge, energy, questions that they have and take what inspires them. This had led to many exciting interactions and innovations.
This spirit extends to all of the activities of Udaipur as a Learning City, where we rely heavily on inviting in volunteer energy — the natural instinct of people to share their time, skills and learning resources with each other — to reclaim and nurture our learning commons. Many ‘private’ spaces, services and goods have been brought back into the service of the public/community good. Udaipur locals have hosted workshops in their homes; they have opened their art galleries, offices, kitchens and farms to visitors; they have brought their knowledge and talents to participate in new collective experiments in rooftop farming, rainwater harvesting, mural-making; they have freecycled their leftover waste materials (scraps of wood, rubber tire tubes, cloth scraps, old wedding cards, etc.) for workshops with kids — all without one rupee being exchanged or demands for self-promotion in the media. This kind of volunteer spirit has enabled Shikshantar’s budget to go down every year, while the movement expands into new individuals, families, neighborhoods, organizations and places.
We are trying to experiment with many other ways to reduce our collective dependency on the Global Market and regenerate the local culture of generosity, hospitality, self-defined limits and collaboration. Several children and youth have gotten into this spirit by making useful things out of waste with their hands. One young person who comes to Shikshantar, Ankit, has made and gifted over 200 unique pieces of coconut jewelry to friends and relatives. He has also ‘paid forward’ the art of making jewelry to several hundred children and youth in self-organized workshops. We are also working on reclaiming forms of play from the world of competition and commercialization. We have freely shared lots of cooperative games with thousands of children and families in Udaipur. Many of these games highlight the wise principle that if one person ‘fails’ or is ‘out’, it is the failure of all.
We have also been experimenting with our organic mela (a festival or fair) as a vehicle for strengthening local markets. It is a space for both selling organic, local and natural products, as well as for sharing ideas so people can learn to make their own things. For example, even while the jewellery or pottery is on display, there is simultaneously a workshop happening at no cost, where people can make their own jewelry from natural and waste materials, or a potter’s wheel for trying to throw one’s own pots. We openly share recipes for different healthy foods and herbal treatments and invite others to do so as well. We have been inspired by the sacred practice of many traditional healers in our region, and have moved away from putting a fixed price on the herbal products we make, to inviting people to contribute what they feel is appropriate based on their shraddha (faith) and capacity.
The gift culture has also been an integral feature of our on-going intercultural dialogues and publications. It has helped create a field for a different depth of conversation. Hundreds of people have shared their thoughts in writing with us (in Mewari, Hindi and English languages) without ever asking for an honorarium. We make all our publications available on-line, free of charge in print, and copyleft (able to be reproduced and shared freely, with authors and sources acknowledged). As we all know, our knowledges, creativities and profound insights have come from so many sources: how could we ever put a price tag on them?
In this reader, we have tried to share diverse stories, insights and conceptual frameworks around the gift culture. The contributors were asked to respond to questions like:
  • Why the gift culture today?
  • How have we been inspired by the gift culture?
  • What are the different traditions of the gift culture around the world?
  • What are the possibilities of the gift culture for our troubled times?
  • How can we bring the gift culture practically into our lives, communities, organizations?
  • What are the challenges to bringing forth the gift culture?
  • What do we need to unlearn for the gift culture to manifest?
  • What questions do we need to explore more deeply in order to understand the gift culture?
We hope this publication will inspire you to better understand and reclaim the gift culture in your life and community. We invite you to share your experiences and ideas with us.
Read more about Reclaiming the Gift Culture

Starting an Ecovillage with Few Resources

By Simon Leclerc

From the outside, the development of the Terre de la Reunion, located in the Laurentians, Quebec, Canada, seem magical. In 2010, my friend Serge Bolduc and I managed, with only $15,000 in our pockets, to create an ecovillage comprising 60 acres of shared mountain forest, 12 housing lots (with 8 houses built or under construction), and a common pavilion to be built. It took a lot of magic, because all this has raised its share of questions, reassessments and repositioning throughout the journey. The challenges were certainly significant, but the gifts were even greater.

At the time we started the project, I was not aware of the statistics showing that only 1 in 10 ecovillage projects were actually being implemented. If I had known this information at the beginning, I think I would have been discouraged by the obstacles encountered, but instead, each step was accepted as an invitation to maintain even more firmly the focus on the goal. For us, there was only one possible objective, and that was the material realization of the project. And when the other dreamers joined us, we were all able to work together to give the ecovillage its true momentum.

Today, our project is taking off internationally with the inclusion of the Terre de la Reunion in the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN). To introduce us, I thought I would present our journey, the one that led us from dream to reality. I am writing on my own behalf, because the story I am about to tell you is the one of Serge and my very early days. It is the story of the path we took to go from our initial dream of the project to the first construction. Subsequently, the group’s vision took over.

Each project is different and unique, so we do not claim to have THE recipe for starting an ecovillage successfully. But if our history can inspire others, it will have served its purpose.

The Initial Vision
It all started with a dream, a vision that I had in mind. It is to live in a Smurf village on a human scale, with friends. I imagined myself living in a hamlet of dwellings located in the forest, where each house is connected with the others by unpaved roads. I perceived a community living environment, in harmony with nature, that respects both the need for everyone’s privacy (the model of the communes of the 1970s demonstrated its limits) and the desire to come together. It seemed to me to be a way of life perfectly adapted to my ideal of a New World where humans (re)learn to live with each other, in close proximity with their friends (nowadays or in the future).

The Joint Creation
A principle, shared by quantum physics, suggests that an observer has the power to influence his external reality. For example, if a researcher does not believe that it is possible to achieve outcome X, it has been demonstrated that their conclusions may be influenced by their preconceived ideas. According to this principle, for a reality to take tangible form, it must first exist within a being who accepts the possibility of its existence.

With this vision in mind, in October 2010 I asked five friends to work with me to create the fundamentals of an ecovillage project that I wanted to set up. I asked them to pause every night, each on their own and at the same time (if possible), for five consecutive days, to “see and feel inside of them” a housing project with friends on a shared land. I had defined four criteria to include in the vision. There had to be a forest, a lake nearby, houses connected by small paths and a common area to bring the whole group together.

For my part, my personal life journey has led me to conceive matter as part of a vast and infinite world that includes both visible and invisible aspects. My years of daily meditation have led me to perceive the links between the inside and the outside, the visible and the invisible. In this context, I knew that if my friends added their energy to my original vision, it would gain more strength and power. Together, we increased our chances of manifesting the project, and I was not mistaken.

The Physical Research
A week after the proposed visualization exercise, I received in my dream a vision telling me that “a place, which had been greatly cherished, was waiting for us”. I was told that it was located 1.6 kilometres north-northwest of where I lived. A few days later, I went looking for the place with a friend, without really knowing if it was real or just the result of my imagination.

We walked around the identified area, looking for a water basin, as this was part of the initial vision. The place was rather marshy and inhospitable, so we decided to climb the adjacent small mountain in order, I thought at the time, to access a higher view of the region. We wanted to be able to better observe the surrounding areas. And it was at the top of the mountain, which includes a beautiful flat peak, that my heart opened.

It was an old maple grove that had already been in production in the past. There was even a small sugar shack at the bottom of the trail. It was autumn in Quebec at that time and the leaves of the trees were multicoloured. I mention these details because in the initial message, I was told “a place that was greatly cherished”. I understood that the vision in my dream was about this forest that had already been cultivated in order to optimize the production of maple water in the spring. And when I discovered it in the fall, the mountain appeared in its magnificence, making the place even more magical.

The Purchase
The next day, I returned to the site with friends (some of whom had participated in the initial group visualization) to show them this newly discovered magical place. The opinions were unanimous, everyone fell in love with the mountains. While going down the hill, Serge met the owner of the place, and learned that the mountain was for sale. This is when the acquisition process began.

From the beginning, it was clear to us that we had to limit the number of people involved with the seller to
simplify the buying process. We had agreed on a price of $160,000, but we only had $15,000 available at the time. And since we had to take steps with the city to ensure the feasibility of our project before buying the land, we agreed with the seller to sign an offer to buy, payable in 6 months, conditional on the project’s acceptance. The $15,000 was therefore used as a deposit to formalize our offer and demonstrate our seriousness. But at that time, we didn’t know how we would find the missing $145,000. We had a few possible solutions in mind, but nothing concrete.

Six Months of Creation
After the offer to purchase was made, Serge and I took the appropriate steps with the city, and soon learned that the project would be accepted. We therefore spent all the time we had left before signing with the notary to define the specific basis of the project, step by step. We thought that during this time, “life” would certainly present us with a solution that would allow us to obtain the missing $145,000.

During this period, we were put in touch with people who would have had the money to help us buy the land, but each time we did not feel the impulse to partner with them. We did not want their financial support to be exchanged for a veto or any form of privilege over other future participants. At that point, it became clear to us that if we wanted the project to work, each member had to be equal to the others, including Serge and me.

I must admit personally that it was difficult for me to move from concept to reality at first, because I was afraid of “losing” a specific location that attracted me a lot. I agreed with the principle, but once it became reality, I was afraid that I would not be considered in the equation if I applied the proposed notion of equity. I too had to learn to trust, because I had to agree to give up all forms of privilege if I wanted to be consistent with the vision we were proposing to others.

So, during the six months preceding the purchase, we located the shared common areas and the places where to install the residences. In order for each house to harmonize with its immediate environment, we defined the optimal number of homes that could be built without denaturing the mountain. In addition, we also positioned the road and estimated the cost of infrastructure. To this evaluation, we had to add the price to bring the electricity to the houses, as well as all the survey fees.

From the beginning, we knew that a common pavilion would be needed to nurture the ecovillage’s community life. In line with the vision of equity presented above, we have kept the most beautiful location on the land to build the future common pavilion. And we have added the estimated cost of its construction to the amount of all the infrastructure necessary to implement the overall project.

When all costs were added together, we divided the total amount by 12, the number of land parcels available, to determine the purchase price for each of the lots offered. This amount includes ownership of a one-twelfth share of a 60-acre shared mountain, infrastructure and a future common pavilion (already paid for), as well as an individual lot for the construction of a house [for cost details, see the website listed at the end of this article].

Three Weeks Before Signing
When the whole project was clarified and the main lines were defined, we still did not have the money to buy the mountain. Three weeks before the signing, we organized two events to present our project to our family and friends, imagining a participative financing scenario. These meetings brought together about 75 people.

At the end of each presentation, we invited people who could (and wanted) to make a personal loan to us, up to the cost of acquiring a lot. The aim was that their support would eventually turn into a land purchase, once all the documents of the co-ownership had been formalized and agreed between the members. Serge and I then undertook to sign documents confirming the debts, and to place all the money received in a joint account requiring a double signature. Even if people knew us and trusted us, we wanted to convince them of the seriousness of our approach.

By April 2011 Serge and I had been able to raise all the money we needed to buy the mountain. And one month after signing before a notary, we had the funds to finance the 1-kilometre road, which began construction in the fall of the same year and was completed in the spring of 2012. It was in the fall of 2013 that the project became a divided co-ownership and members were able to transform their loan into the purchase of a lot.

I would like to point out here that some of the people who were initially present left the project along the way. They either changed their minds, or simply wanted to help us get started, without necessarily considering living on the land. In the original loan agreement, it was stipulated that we would repay those who wished to be reimbursed as soon as new people joined the project. I would like to highlight this detail because this clause has greatly facilitated the deployment of the Terre de la Reunion by avoiding the need to draw on the working capital to reimburse people who wanted to leave.

My partner Serge, who is a builder of healthy and ecological houses, started the construction of the first residence on the Terre de la Reunion in the fall of 2013. Today, six years later, eight houses are being built or under construction, and there will soon be 14 permanent residents. And as soon as it is possible for us to do so, we will build the common pavilion. In addition, the group also includes four “active members” (non-owners) who assume responsibilities and take part in various activities (community meals, happy chores, movie nights, hikes on the trails, festivities, etc.), as well as four children. And we are constantly expanding.

Instead of the houses being grouped in clusters, as in the original vision, the Smurfs village has rather been spread out in length so that each residence benefits from optimal sunlight (all the houses are built on the southern slope of the mountain). There is indeed a lake near the land, but we overlook it from above, instead of being situated next to it.

As with all ecovillage projects, experience has taught us the importance of cohesion among the group. Today, our goal is to bring together people who share common affinities and ideals with us, not to force less natural alliances. As a result, we have put in place a step-by-step welcoming and inclusion process that allows us to better integrate newcomers. This ensures our overall cohesion and allows us to form a solid core of members who feel like family and who share common ideals.

The original dream evolved along the way to include the individual contribution of each new member so that everyone feels they are an integral part of the project. The two founders have gradually abandoned their role of initiators, to stimulate everyone to find their own place in the group. I must admit that this transition was not always easy for Serge and I, because if our leadership skills were necessary in the early years, we had to learn to delegate (and sometimes to fade away) so that the participants felt more involved. But it has been a wonderful learning experience for both of us and today I am delighted to see that each member of the Terre de la Reunion shines in his or her respective ever-changing role.

Living Together
I consider the human being to be fundamentally a community person, a being whose deep and true nature is to seek to unite with the life around them. This is a natural impulse. But when they feel judged, unwelcome or forced to adapt in order to be loved, they then develop a closure to others, a social pressure that leads them to want to distrust, separate and withdraw. On the other hand, when they feel welcomed and loved, they gradually cease to compare themselves, or to be in competition with others, and develop the desire to grow among people who correspond to them, people with whom they feel affinities. This is a natural instinct that is present in everyone.

At the same time, I think that people who choose to live as hermits, withdrawn from the world, do not do so by choice, but by reaction and fear. Fences, borders and walls were invented by humans who fear what they do not understand, what they do not control. Physical ramparts have become symbols to justify the mistrust that some humans have of each other. They highlight a model of life accepted by many, where the quest for natural quietness present in everyone (our need for privacy) has been transformed into a search for protection and separation, in order not to manage our fear of the unknown.

In this context, an ecovillage offers a magnificent way of life that makes it possible to realize people’s desire to live with each other, in harmony with the environment. It is a path of exploration, for the moment avant-garde, which allows us to put into practice what we have already learned about living together. But it is not a model for people who want to learn to open up to others, because the level of proximity and interaction is too high. In other words, to be happy in an ecovillage, residents must already have a community spirit, a fairly solid base rooted in them, because otherwise, the clashes may be too great.

If they want to live in peace and balance, members of an ecovillage must give more importance to the quest for harmony among all than to the issues of power and the individual needs to be right. I am not saying that personal opinions have no place, on the contrary. But once expressed, it is sometimes necessary to let go of certain elements that seem important to us, in order to promote the harmony and unity of the group. This ideal must be shared by each member, because otherwise there will be no cohesion. This is fundamental for an ecovillage project to work.

This understanding of “living together” has evolved along the way. Everything was not so clear to us at first, but the basis was there. And it is with this vision shared by the two initial dreamers that the village of Smurfs on a human scale was born. It demonstrated, through a material and real example, that it is possible to “live differently” in community.

The Magic
Since the very beginning of the Terre de la Reunion, life has magically dotted our path of common creation. It is as if our project were supported by an invisible “Big Hand” – as I like to call it – that facilitates each step of our journey. The most beautiful anecdote on the subject I can tell you is the one related to our high-speed Internet connection. When we began the process of obtaining it, the first estimates evaluated the connection costs at $140,000. It was very expensive. There were other alternatives such as satellite connection, but the speed is low and unstable.

One day, Serge had the impetus to check with a different company that offered the service in other regions. He then learned that a special budget for “new residential projects” had just been approved. So, we applied for service and were accepted. Three months later, we obtained an Internet connection by fiber optic to the Terre de la Reunion. It is the fastest residential Internet that currently exists on the market. And our project is located in the middle of the forest.

In addition, not only did we not have to pay for Internet connection, but we received $10,000 from the company so that they could use the poles that connected the houses to the power grid to install their wiring. Since these poles belonged to the land, the check was sent to us.

Instead of having to pay $140,000 to get a high-speed Internet connection, we received $10,000 to get even faster fiber optic, even though we are located in the forest. In fact, we may be the only forest ecovillage in the world currently served by fiber optic. And as you can imagine, this considerably improves the quality of life of the members of the Terre de la Reunion.

In Conclusion
Believing in our dreams is certainly a major factor in making them come true. But experience has personally shown me that, in addition to believing in them, we must feel them, live them internally as if they were already manifested. At some point, the inner world becomes so alive that the outside can only become its natural extension, the reflection in the matter. Obviously, this process requires a let go, because the when and how belong to the Great Unknown, but the more we hold on to the goal, to the dream we feel, the greater our chances of achieving it. At least this is what Serge and I experienced in the process that led us to create the Terre de la Reunion ecovillage.

I sincerely hope that our story will inspire other dreamers and visionaries who, like us, want to set up projects around the world in the coming years (ecovillage or other). I leave you with this wonderful quote that represents us well: “They did not know it was impossible, so they did it” (Mark Twain, American writer, 1835-1910).

Sincerest greetings,

By Simon Leclerc
Marketing and Communication Specialist

Co-Founder with Serge Bolduc of the Terre de la Reunion ecovillage, Quebec, Canada


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Be - Do - Have Model

By Jaemin Frazer

The Be Do Have model is one of my favourite coaching tools. Both Stephen Covey and Anthony Robbins use it in their writing, yet I believe it predates both of them.

It is a wonderfully powerful framework for lasting change, however is often over simplified and misused.

Here is the essence of the BE DO HAVE model.

Success in any area of life always starts with a very clear picture about the results you desire. If you don't know what the goal is, it is impossible to tell if you've achieved success or not.

Once we are really clear about what we want and why we want it, the game changing question in not ‘what do I need to do?’ but ‘who do I need to be?’

 Another way of asking this question is ‘what kind of a person would have access to these kind of outcomes?’

 For example, let’s say I want to write a book that’s a best-seller. Only 2% of all authors will ever sell enough copies of their book to justify the time, money and energy they’ve spent in writing it. It’s not simply the best books that get published, just like it’s not the most talented sportsperson, artist or business person that ends up on top of the pile. Despite what most people think, the best don’t always finish first. So simply doing my best isn’t likely to deliver the results I am looking for. I need to find out what kind of person gets their book published and sold when most others don’t. The question I need to ask myself is, “Who do I need to be to write a best-seller?”

 What kind of person makes it in their field of expertise, when most work hard for very little recognition or reward? What must they believe about themselves? How do they dress? What is their relationship with money? What story do they live out of? How do they walk when they enter a room?

If I can be this kind of person, then I can have access to the same results as they do.

The Be Do Have model really unpacks how this works in the real world.

 There are three common approaches to trying to get ahead in life. Only one of them actual works.

 Let’s call them:

The Victim,
The Worker
The Winner
 The victim arranges their life in the order HAVE DO BE

They say, “When I HAVE enough time, money and support, then I’ll DO the things I’ve always wanted to, and then I’ll BE happy and successful. The problem is I don’t HAVE yet. If I had what that person had, I’d certainly be as successful as them, but I don’t so I’m not.“ The victim is always waiting for externals to change before they can move ahead in life.

The worker is all about DO HAVE BE

They say, “The more I DO, the more I’ll HAVE. The more I’ll HAVE, the happier I’ll BE. The problem is, the more I do, the more there is still to do and the more I have to more there is still to have. I am defined by what I do so I become driven, busy and tired. The more I have, the more there is to lose so the harder I work.” We all know that the link between having more things and being happier is a myth, so being happy never arrives.

The winner orients their life quite differently: BE DO HAVE

They say, “It is not what do I need to HAVE before I can start, or what work do I need to DO… but who do I need to BE? What kind of person would have access to the kind of outcomes I want? Then being that kind of person, what would I be doing? And then the having takes care of itself.”

Be Do Have is definitely the rarest of the three lifestyles and the most abstract, yet it is the only one that works.


Sunday, October 13, 2019

The GoodWork Toolkit

CLICK HERE to access a full PDF of the GoodWork Toolkit, available for free.
Work occupies much of our lives. Hours spent at the office or at home thinking about work-related tasks and obligations often exceed time away from work. Yet, how many of us find our work meaningful? How many of us feel able to do our best work? And how often do we stop to consider the consequences of our work on others, or its impact on society as a whole?
For individuals at all levels (young students, graduate school students, and new and veteran professionals), opportunities to consider the meaning of work for themselves and others are rare, but imperative. Society needs professionals who care about good work.
The GoodWork Toolkit is an approach to engage individuals and groups in reflection and conversation about good work. The Toolkit consists of flexible set of materials, including vignettes of individuals who struggle to carry out good work, and accompanying questions and activities. Since 2007, educators at all levels—elementary school to graduate school—from around the world have implemented these materials in their coursework in a variety of ways.
The Toolkit is not a prescribed curriculum; it is called a “toolkit,” because it contains a variety of tools” that may be used in a number of combinations. The materials are meant to be adaptable to a variety of contexts; in other words, the Toolkit can be used as part of a retreat, as a year-long theme in a particular class, as the basis of a two or three day seminar. There is no need to follow these chapters, in order, from beginning to end. Facilitators should feel free to pick and choose and adapt these cases and activities as best suits their goals and needs.
The Guidebook is a resource manual to help participants start important conversations and reflection about good work.
The Narratives volume is a separate collection of the same real-life stories included in the Guidebook, but limited to the cases themselves.
The Value Sort Cards encourage participants to think about their personal and professional values.
For 20 sample lesson plans to use concurrently with the GoodWork Toolkit, click here. For a sample rubric that can be used with pre- and post-assessments of concept understandings, click here.

Help students take ownership of their digital lives.

Common Sense digital citizenship topics include media balance, cyberbullying, news and media literacy, online privacy, digital footprint, and communication.
All students need digital citizenship skills to participate fully in their communities and make smart choices online and in life. Our award-winning K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum:
  • Addresses top concerns for schools.
  • Prepares students with critical 21st-century skills.
  • Supports educators with training and recognition.
  • Engages the whole community through family outreach.

Ready-to-teach lessons to address your changing needs in the classroom.

Available now! Free lessons for grades K–12.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Ten Keys to Happier Living

The Ten Keys to Happier Living are based on a review of the latest research from psychology and related fields. Everyone's path to happiness is different, but the evidence suggests these Ten Keys consistently tend to have a positive impact on people's happiness and well-being.
The first five keys (GREAT) are about how we interact with the outside world in our daily activities. They are based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing developed by nef as part of the Foresight Project. The second five keys (DREAM) come from inside us and depend on our attitude to life.
Giving icon
Caring about others is fundamental to our happiness. Helping other people is not only good for them and a great thing to do, it also makes us happier and healthier too. Giving also creates stronger connections between people and helps to build a happier society for everyone. And it's not all about money - we can also give our time, ideas and energy. So if you want to feel good, do good! Read more...
Relating icon
Relationships are the most important overall contributor to happiness. People with strong and broad social relationships are happier, healthier and live longer. Close relationships with family and friends provide love, meaning, support and increase our feelings of self worth. Broader networks bring a sense of belonging. So taking action to strengthen our relationships and create new connections is essential for happiness. Read more...
Exercising icon
Our body and our mind are connected. Being active makes us happier as well as being good for our physical health. It instantly improves our mood and can even lift us out of a depression. We don't all need to run marathons - there are simple things we can all do to be more active each day. We can also boost our well-being by unplugging from technology, getting outside and making sure we get enough sleep! Read more...
Appreciating icon
Ever felt there must be more to life? Well good news, there is! And it's right here in front of us. We just need to stop and take notice. Learning to be more mindful and aware can do wonders for our well-being in all areas of life - like our walk to work, the way we eat or our relationships. It helps us get in tune with our feelings and stops us dwelling on the past or worrying about the future - so we get more out of the day-to-day. Read more...
Trying Out icon
Learning affects our well-being in lots of positive ways. It exposes us to new ideas and helps us stay curious and engaged. It also gives us a sense of accomplishment and helps boost our self-confidence and resilience. There are many ways to learn new things - not just through formal qualifications. We can share a skill with friends, join a club, learn to sing, play a new sport and so much more. Read more...

Direction icon
Feeling good about the future is important for our happiness. We all need goals to motivate us and these need to be challenging enough to excite us, but also achievable. If we try to attempt the impossible this brings unnecessary stress. Choosing ambitious but realistic goals gives our lives direction and brings a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when we achieve them. Read more...
Resilience icon
All of us have times of stress, loss, failure or trauma in our lives. But how we respond to these has a big impact on our well-being. We often cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose our own attitude to what happens. In practice it's not always easy, but one of the most exciting findings from recent research is that resilience, like many other life skills, can be learned. Read more...
Emotion icon
Positive emotions - like joy, gratitude, contentment, inspiration, and pride - are not just great at the time. Recent research shows that regularly experiencing them creates an 'upward spiral', helping to build our resources. So although we need to be realistic about life's ups and downs, it helps to focus on the good aspects of any situation - the glass half full rather than the glass half empty. Read more...
Acceptance icon
No-one's perfect. But so often we compare our insides to other people's outsides. Dwelling on our flaws - what we're not rather than what we've got - makes it much harder to be happy. Learning to accept ourselves, warts and all, and being kinder to ourselves when things go wrong, increases our enjoyment of life, our resilience and our well-being. It also helps us accept others as they are. Read more...
Meaning icon
People who have meaning and purpose in their lives are happier, feel more in control and get more out of what they do. They also experience less stress, anxiety and depression. But where do we find 'meaning and purpose'? It might be our religious faith, being a parent or doing a job that makes a difference. The answers vary for each of us but they all involve being connected to something bigger than ourselves. Read more...
About the Ten Keys
The Ten Keys to Happier Living framework was jointly developed by Vanessa King and the Action for Happiness team in 2010, based on an extensive review of the latest research evidence relating to psychological/mental wellbeing.
Ten Keys Questions for Discussion
Ten Keys Action Ideas
  • Do three extra acts of kindness today. Offer to help, give away your change, pay a compliment, or make someone smile.
  • Reach out to help someone who's struggling. Give them a call or offer your support. Let them know you care.
  • Make more time for the people who matter. Chat with a loved one or friend, call your parents or play with the kids.
  • Make three extra connections today. Stop to chat in the shop, wave at a neighbour, learn the name of someone new.
  • Be more active today. Get off a bus a stop early, take the stairs, turn off the TV, go for a walk - anything that gets you moving.
  • Eat nutritious food, drink more water, catch up on sleep. Notice which healthy actions lift your mood and do more of them.
  • Give yourself a bit of head space. At least once a day, stop and take 5 minutes to just breathe and be in the moment.
  • Notice and appreciate good things around you every day, big or small. Trees, bird song, the smell of coffee, laughter perhaps? 
  • Do something for the first time today. Sample sushi, try a new route, read a different newspaper or visit a local place of interest.
  • Learn a new skill, however small. A first aid technique or a new feature on your phone. Cook a new meal or use a new word. 
  • Take the first step. Think of a goal you're aiming for and do one thing to get started. Make a call, fill in that form, tell others. 
  • Share your dreams. Tell 3 people about an aspiration that is really important to you this year and listen to theirs too.
  • Ask for help today. Confide in a friend, talk to an expert, reach out to a colleague, ask a neighbour to lend a hand. 
  • When something is troubling you, do something you really enjoy. Shift your mood and bring a new perspective on the problem.
  • Do something that you know will make you feel good. Listen to music, watch something funny, get outside or call an old friend.
  • Try to smile and say something positive every time you walk into a room. Notice the reaction you get. 
  • Ask a trusted friend or colleague to tell you what they think your real strengths are. Try to make more use of these.
  • Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. See your mistakes as opportunities to learn. Notice things you do well, however small.
  • Feel part of something bigger. Spend time with children, visit an inspiring location, gaze at the stars or join a club.
  • Be more charitable. Give others your time, offer to help neighbours or friends, consider giving blood or volunteering.