Why do we proclaim to have a free market economic system yet relegate its use to a monopolistic currency? To truly recognize and embrace our abundance, isn’t it time that we realize our value and the value of the world we inhabit beyond the limitations of the Federal Reserve Bank? This is not to discount the validity and value the Federal Reserve Bank brings in accounting for scarce resources. However, in accounting for the unlimited potential of human creativity, compassion, ingenuity, and drive, how much do we really need to hold in reserve?

A new currency,¨ as Edgar Cahn points out in Time Dollars,¨ with the potential to tap a vast new pool of time and motivation, opens possibilities that can be exhilarating. If governments and institutions ever embrace the concept of Time Dollars, the whole arena of public services can become a kind of bustling enterprise zone. The result could be a society in which people discharge their obligations by helping one another, rather than just by helping one another, rather than just by exchanging pieces of paper or bits of plastic. There could be cohesion in place of the rootlessness and disintegration so common today. A heady prospect to be sure, but who could claim that the current money system is functioning so well that we should ignore a new one that is actually working.”

I´ve been living without the use of money for over eleven months now. There are times that I miss it. I miss the convenience. I miss being able to get something from a complete stranger without having to worry about feeling as if I´m taking advantage. I miss not always being able to choose what food I´ll eat and the freedom to fulfill my most simple urges of appetite. However, the experience has also truly opened my eyes to what is really valuable in life. It has enabled me to form deeper relationships, to realize resources I didn´t know were available, and to learn that there´s always a much better way than the direction of the herd.

I´ve realized, most importantly, that my greatest commodity is time. It´s priceless to me. It amazes me that I used to sell it for such a pittance. Yet when I get to spend my time doing something that I love, that helps someone else, and that makes me feel good about the life I am living, I realize the true value of my time and I appreciate it all the more.

Time dollars aren´t meant to to replace Federal Reserve Notes or the monetary system. Money has its own role to play in helping us account for our limited resources. Time dollars are meant to simply help us open our eyes at how much wealth is actually at our disposal so that we stop getting so caught up in our limitations and lack. Because when we start giving adequate value to the creativity, innovation, compassion, and courage that is our common wealth, then we allow ourselves to truly develop an economics of happiness.

Time banking can get us back where we need to be because they allow us to focus on what we find valuable.

Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently the Director of Operational Development for the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.