This word has numerous contexts and meanings for each and every one of us. When we think about giving, we tend to think about money and time – two aspects that play and important role. However have you ever considered simple acts of kindness?
MONEY When we think about money, we think about ways in which we can give money to a charity or to others to help a particular cause. However if you give to charity, are you aware of how much of the money actually reaches the people who need it most? There are multiple charities out there that are about directly supporting the individual in need. For example some charities are about helping individuals set up their own businesses in third world countries through the use of micro-loans. Is this something that you could be interested in doing?
Another act of giving in regards to a monetary perspective is giving to the poor and homeless. I ask you this, have you ever or have you seen somebody walk past an individual who is homeless and ignored them, given them a look of disgust or even blanked them as if they were invisible? Few individuals choose to be homeless and most are through circumstances perhaps beyond their control. Someone once said to me that most individuals are one missed mortgage payment away from homelessness. Think twice before you walk past. I am not saying give money to every homeless person that you see, but at least try to acknowledge them. If you are concerned that they may not be using the money they collect to the best of their intentions buy them a sandwich or give them a hot drink.
TIME We are all familiar with the act of giving time through the act of volunteering. That is giving some of your time to help others perhaps who are in more need. Some of us enjoy this type of giving, while others of us rebuke the idea of volunteering feeling as though we don’t have enough time to do this in our busy lives. However, although we do indeed lead busy lives, volunteering the smallest amount of time can have a huge impact on the life of an individual, community or an organisation in need as well as yourself. Volunteering is a two way street. You can gain a real sense of accomplishment, deep feeling of gratitude and the opportunity to make new friends and develop your social skills.
SIMPLE ACTS OF KINDNESS Perhaps we don’t have the finances to give of our money, or the space in our busy schedules to give of our time. Is it possible to still be a giving person? Yes. Through simple acts of kindness. Simple acts of kindness requires no money and very little time, however can be just as effective in its impact upon you and others around you. This form of giving encompasses many simple ways such as giving a smile to someone, saying thank you, holding a door open for someone or helping someone who is lost find their way. There are multiple ways in which you can help others around you when needed. It is important to remember that giving can just be a simple part of life that helps you to enjoy it that little bit more. Even small acts of generosity can activate the reward centre of the brain that reduces our stress levels and can even help us to live longer.
On a more deeper level though, have you ever had that experience that when you help someone in need this tends to come back to you when you need it most? When we give to someone, in most cases they will then be more willing to be giving towards someone else and so on. So what started off as a small act of giving between two people can actually grow far beyond anybody’s expectations.
Whichever type of giving you do engage in, be aware of certain pitfalls.
The first pitfall is giving based on recognition. Sometimes when we give we might expect something back in return and if this is not returned then we feel frustrated or upset as our act of giving has not been recognised. For example an individual holds the door for another individual who walks through it and does not say thank you. Consequently the individual could feel frustrated and annoyed because their generous act of holding the door for the other person has not been acknowledged by them.
The second pitfall of giving is doing so because you feel you have to. This refers to the act of doing something for someone then moaning and complaining to them as you are doing it as you if you were forced by them to do it. From my own experience I remember offering a lift to my wife to drop her off in the centre of the city for her first day at work, being fully aware of the rush hour traffic for then to travel to where I worked. Yet as I was driving to where she worked I was complaining about the traffic, the fact I would be late for work, as if it was her fault. Reality check needed after reflection, as I was the one who agreed to give her a lift to work (especially the fact that it was her first day in her new job). A phrase comes to mind that I remember reading somewhere once; “If you cannot do something for someone with an open heart without expecting nothing in return, then don’t do it!”
With so many benefits giving can bring to all individuals involved, it’s a surprise that more are not? In order for this to change, we need to partner together to be part of a giving revelation. Therefore I encourage you over the next 7 days to work through these steps of giving below:
Make a list of the acts of giving you have done for others and what benefits they gained from it.
Make a gratitude list of the times individuals have engaged in the act of giving to you.
Set yourself a giving goal (it does not have to involve money or time). It could be as simple as giving a compliment, positive words of encouragement or a smile to there people each day.
With your giving goal in mind, engage with it for a further days and notice as you do this what difference it brings to you and also those around you.
Good luck and remember to give with an open heart, without constraints or expectations. Together we may just change the world.