Living in A Gift Economy

It’s that time of year again, folks. The holiday season: a time for family and friends, good food, and of course, gifts. On the surface that sounds sweet, but we all know the reality of this time of year include stress, anxiety, family feuds, and extreme busyness. Because of this, many of the simple and wonderful roots of this season are lost, and gift giving is a great example. With the hustle and bustle that the holidays bring, it’s easy to mindlessly scroll through our checklist of obligated gifts to buy and purchase the first thing that comes to mind or we see on the shelves. There are huge expectations on the gifts we give, as many people in our lives assume we will get them something, and we have a sense of duty that we need to buy a lot of (and possibly very expensive) gifts for everyone on our list. This usually results in the piles upon piles of things. Most of which are objects we don’t really want or need; objects that will probably be forgotten, thrown out, or returned within a few months.

We’re not saying all gift giving is bad. We do believe that at the core of everyone’s gift giving, there is a pure intention behind it, but it seems to have gotten lost and cluttered in this day and age, as have many different facets of life. So this holiday season, we invite you to deepen and strengthen the intentions behind your holiday gifts; we invite you to slow down, pour yourself a cup of tea and put a little more thought into the buying and giving of gifts that you participate in.

Living in a Gift Economy

In today’s world, we live in a market economy. We use money as a means to buy goods and services. Even if some of us don’t love it, it’s not going to go away anytime soon, and there are many ways to shift our perspective on how we view money.

In the book Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, she dives into the idea of a gift economy. In this, she talks about how gift giving demands something different from us. When we give a gift to someone, there is an inherent responsibility that is created and an ongoing relationship of reciprocity that emerges. There’s a difference in how we feel when we purchase a pair of socks vs. if that same pair were given to us with love from someone. When we receive a truly heartfelt gift - one that the gift giver put their love, intention, and meaning into - we feel those things. Giving gifts is an exchange of energy. When we can honestly feel the love behind the gift, we in turn are inspired to give back, whether it’s an expression of our sincere gratitude or a gift we give them in return. We are more invested in that present, whatever it may be, and we put more of our own energy into taking care of it because of the relationship that it symbolizes.

It’s easy to lose sight of all these things in the world we live in today. We can simply pay money for anything we need and there is nothing of real substance that is created from that; no responsibility, no relationship, no love. We’ve become so disconnected from our commodities and the energy behind their creation. We aren’t generating meaningful relationships when we mindlessly purchase generic products. We aren’t being a very responsible human beings (to ourselves, to our hard earned money, and to humanity and the Earth itself) if we go around throwing our money away on things that won’t last and won’t be taken care of. We aren’t promoting reciprocity by giving others, and ourselves, a false sense of fulfillment on a bunch of useless things. 

So however you choose to give a gift this holiday season, really consider what it means to truly give a gift. That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to make something ourselves, as sometimes that’s not always possible. Whether we purchase a gift or it’s hand made, we can take the principles of a gift economy to heart. It’s as simple as putting a little more thought and intention into what you are buying. Just take a moment to think about the nature of the relationship, and if your gift is really going to bring a sense of genuine joy and fulfillment into their life; think about the responsibility and impact that your gift has; and think about how the gift will generate a reciprocity.

“If all the world is a commodity, how poor we grow. When all the world is a gift in motion, how wealthy we become.” 
-- Robin Wall Kimmerer


To help you get through this gift giving season, we’ve created the second of our Conscious Gateways series and made another PDF with questions that you can ask yourself before each gift you purchase/make. We hope this encourages you to find more mindfulness during this hectic and busy time of year. We hope the gifts you give really make a beautiful impact in the lives of the receivers, which will only make the world a better place for us all. 

gift economy

Here at Inner Mandala, we love receiving thoughtful gifts. There’s nothing like being given a gift that just oozes with the intention of both the person gifting it and the person who crafted it. It makes us feel so loved knowing that someone put time, thought and effort into what they were giving us. In the spirit of the holiday season, we thought about some of the qualities we personally love in the gifts we receive, and we thought we’d share them with you.

Gifts that can be used over and over again. Whether the physical object is crafted with such high quality, or the lessons and teachings can be applied at different phases of life, gifts that don’t fade quickly are going to mean more to us. 

Gifts that brings an impactful and memorable experience. There’s nothing like the gift of a unique experience. Because let’s be real, at the end of the day, those are what we’re going to remember most.

Gifts that touch on deeper personal desires versus “surface level” likes. We'd much rather receive something that hits home on a deeply personal level. Those are the things that are going to hold a special place in our hearts.

Gifts that move us, that emit a powerful emotional response. Gotta love it when you receive a gift that means so much to you it makes you cry!

Gifts that are unique and honor our uniqueness. No one likes getting super generic gifts. We are all incredibly unique and it feels so comforting when we are gifted something that matches our super individualized energy. 

These are all the qualities we want to share with you in our offerings here, not only during the holiday season, but everyday. These are the intentions we put behind each of our products and services, because to us, they’re simply gifts that we want to share. Each time you purchase from us, we look at that as an opportunity to give you a very special gift - one that is full of intention and honors you and the personal guidance you may need at this time. 

You are a living breathing soul, filled with complexities and a unique perspective of life. Gift giving should be about honoring that uniqueness and uplifting the real you. It is our intention to do that through our offerings. We hope that from receiving our gifts we offer, you learn to see that you are a true gift to this world. You deserve to know it, believe it, and embody it everyday. 

So take a look at some of our offerings this holiday season. We hope you consider them when you’re looking to give someone special in your life a gift. (That someone special can be yourself too!)

1 comment

Stuart Smith

Life Over Profit (Facebook page)
All life on earth is more important than any business profit. Life over Profit holds; No harm shall be done to any form of life on earth in the course of doing any business for profiting. Human life or suffering is paramount and must stands far above all business interest always.

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