Live with a co-op frame of mind

I belonged to a babysitting co-op when I was a young mother. Here’s how it worked: Each member began with 30 points to use for babysitting services from other members—one point per hour for the first child and a ½ point per each additional child per hour. Whatever the hourly rate, the member watching my children earned the points I spent that day.


Any member could watch my children, and I could watch any member’s children. But, of course, those who watched my children weren’t always those whose children I watched. The co-op operated on an equitable give-and-take basis. That worked for the good of the group and all its members.


It occurred to me recently that the world is much like that babysitting co-op, and all other co-ops, for that matter. I believe everything we give in this world is returned to us. And I know that what comes back to us doesn’t always come from those we give to. 


For example, if you’re in a relationship where you give your all—time, energy, love, gifts, money—to someone you don’t receive the same from in return, don’t despair. That’s not the way a co-op works. Don’t keep track of IOUs for everything you give. Stop trying to figure out how to repay someone for something you received. Instead, trust that the Universal Co-op will take care of things. Our own accounting and expectations will only interrupt its balance, not to mention it will make us resentful and exhausted.


Do you give compliments and kudos to friends and family who never do the same for you? Does that mean you’re not getting what you deserve? Maybe it makes you feel that way but shift your perspective. Look at the world as one big co-op and begin to recognize what you receive, not who you receive it from. 


In the end, when it comes to giving and receiving in life, think of this paraphrased Rolling Stones lyric: “You can’t always get what you want, but you’ll get what you need.” Keep your eyes and heart wide open for it, and you may discover you’re getting more than you deserve on the receiving end.


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