I could never do that...
Posted by Kevin Salwen on 11.30.2010Share

Certain responses are conditioned into people, including what might be my least favorite knee-jerk reaction: "I could never do that."

In the past nine months, as we've gone public with The Power of Half, that might be the response we hear the most in reaction to our decision to cut our living space in half and give half the proceeds to charity. Usually, the phrase is said with a smile and a marveling at how our family is a bit nuts. And, I might add, I hear "I could never do that" most frequently from people of means, including Wall Street traders.

The "I could never do that" reply triggers two thoughts for me -- one that I say and one that I keep to myself. The one I say is this: "We're not asking you to sell your house; we're only suggesting that you determine what you have more than enough of, then cut that one thing in half so that you can share with others. Time, talent, treasure, you decide."

The one I don't say is this: "I am almost certain you can; you don't choose to." Let me quickly say that in extreme cases (job loss, family illness, etc) the choice of living with half a house might be impractical. But for many people, we've just made choices, settled into a life of comfort. There's nothing wrong with that, if it makes you happy.

What is wrong, though, is believing that it would be impossible to change your mindset. We have more power than that. We have more creativity than that. What's your half?

Such a great question, Grant. In our family, we test Half projects all the time, obviously far smaller than the sale of our house. For instance, we have cut in half the amount we spend on carry-out pizza by buying frozen instead. And we cut our electricity bill in half by turning off our AC for 3 months (that was painful!). Half is simply a measurement tool, one that allows you to easily look at your life and its abundances and share what you have. As for where to stop, I think it stops when you say it does. No one else can dictate that for you, just as no one can dictate when to start. But giving because it continues to feel great is the ultimate goal. What do you think?
Posted by Kevin at 12:39pm on 12.01.2010

Here's what I've been thinking about since reading The Power of Half: If you've already given half, can you give half again? I tend to focus on the time and talent aspects you talk about because that's what I can spare more readily than treasure. I already volunteer about 10 hours a week and work for a non-profit (which contributes to the treasure problem). However, I read your book and try to figure out what I can give half of. I always feel like I should give more, I have so much more than most people in the US, let alone the world. So once you've given half, and you still have more than most, is it reasonable to look at giving half again? If so, where does that stop? There is always more need, and if you can afford to look at this website, or buy a copy of The Power of Half, or even if you can read the book at all no matter how you aquired it, you have more than many. If you continue to give half, you end up like Mother Teresa, and I could never do that...
Posted by Grant at 6:02pm on 11.30.2010