Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bargaining and Consciousness

Of the different interpretations of the term bargain, probably the first one that comes to mind is something that you buy because the price is significantly less than usual. But is that really the best definition? No, but it is one of them. After all, if the only reason you would consider buying something is because the price is cheap, then all you have is some cheap stuff which you may not ever use, and it will just clutter up your space and will eventually end up in the garbage. So is that really a bargain?

Of course, if you bought something you would normally use at a greatly reduced price, then you have gained something an advantage, a real benefit, and now there is money left over from the normal purchase price that can be used for something else.

These are examples of a bargain as a thing. But when we take a look at the word bargain as an action, we see something different.

Perhaps the greater sense of the word is when we use it to mean giving up something that has value to us in order to obtain something else that has an equal or greater value to us. Part of life is that we have to give something of value in order to get something of value. The concept of haggling with another person to try and get price concessions is a very limited view of bargaining.

Sometimes we may even feel that we don't want to give up anything in order to get what we want, but sometimes, that is exactly what is required.

We may not always see it this way, but bargaining is a constant part of life. When we buy a new car, a new TV, a new computer, new house, new clothes, or whatever else, we are actually agreeing to spend an equivalent number of hours doing an equivalent number of tasks in order to pay for that item. Our agreement then, means that we are trading away a number of hours of our life in order to make this purchase. (Of course, if there is someone who will simply give us these things as gifts, that is not a bargain, it is simply a gift.)

The best bargains are the ones where both parties get something they want. We can structure them by our own definitions. We enter into bargains with the intention of giving and receiving prepared to give and receive. We decide what we are willing to give and receive. We decide how much of a price we are willing to pay. Some cultures treat it as a game, where going out to buy anything is all about haggling over prices until a bargain is reached. In our culture, we have come to see the prices on the shelves as the price, and commonly we do not haggle with shop keepers. The invisible bargaining that is going on involves what we are willing to do in order to be able to afford that price. Today with the changes in the economy, people are more readily engaging in bargaining, even in standard retail stores.

Life is all about giving and receiving. We are always engaged in both. Bargaining is the fluidity of change and growth. It is the necessary component that helps us adjust to growth and change. The more conscious our bargaining, the more conscious our change.

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