Home Giving The Joy of Living is in Giving

The Joy of Living is in Giving

by Vidya Sury October 5, 2013 18 comments

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

I was going through my archives and came across the “Joy of Giving” week and found that we’re right in the middle of it. Oct 2 to 8 is Joy of Giving week. Celebrated through a variety of initiatives.

The word “giving” always makes me fondly think of my Mom. She was the sort who would immediately hand over anything she owned, if someone admired it. I remember various instances of this. A colleague of hers at school praised a new saree she was wearing that day and the next thing we knew, she laundered the saree, packed it up and gifted it to her. Another time, she bought a pair of sunglasses she had saved up for. The moment someone said ‘wow, what a fab pair of glasses’, she took them off and gave it to her.

Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need – Khalil Gibran

Mom was a giver. She would come home after an event at school, her arms laden with prizes. She wouldn’t covet any of them and would happily distribute them to whoever fancied them…or what was left of them by the time she arrived home.

There were times I’ve gotten a little mad, this was usually when I coveted something. I would ask her, how could she just give something away without stopping to think how expensive it was. And she would answer, “You have to experience the joy of giving to understand”. I am glad to say I did. After all, did I not grow up in a family where visitors had to have at least one meal with us, if not two? My Grandmother kept open house – any family that had to live in the city we were in, was welcomed to our home to stay. Sometimes it was a few months. They were just absorbed into the family for the duration of their stay. Nothing was expected from them in return.

My Grandfather, I’ve heard, often wore three shirts, one over the other so he could donate all but one to the street people near the railways station. Talk about literally giving away the shirt off his back!

My Uncles? One of them could never bear seeing someone hungry. Each time he went on tour, he would buy baskets of the local fruit in season to distribute among our neighbors.

Another of my Uncles had pledged never to bargain with women vendors on the street. I’ve seen him carry their baskets of veg or flowers to their “spot” on the street. And making the first purchase of the day from them, which is supposed to be auspicious. They believed their business flourished thanks to him. He also financed some of them.

It is a fact that giving keeps you happy and healthy. It builds warm relationships and hey, it is contagious.

“If you knew the power of generosity, you would not let a single meal go by without sharing it,” the Buddha

My folks definitely knew the power of generosity. I am privileged I grew in such a family.

Why is giving so highly rated?

When you give, you get a natural high.

It is true and there is research to prove it. In fact, cultivating the habit of gratitude and giving in children pays off big dividends, by making them happier and better human beings, empowering them.

Each year, my son’s school encourages the students to bring clothes, old school uniforms, school bags, stationery and other things in good condition, to donate to the underprivileged. They also invite a large group of recipients of these giveaways to have lunch at the school with the other children. Such a feel good activity and the children just enjoy doing it.  Makes them more compassionate and helps them appreciate what they have.

I think of giving as a great stress reliever. I’ve mentioned it before – my Mom insisted on always carrying something to give away each time we went out. To me it is a habit.

GivingHere are some easy ways to give:

  • Smile. Yes, as easy as that. When you see someone without a smile, give them one of yours. Not many people I know who involuntarily won’t respond to a smile.
  • Give something to your local welfare home. Sponsor a meal or two. Contribute to their health fund. Every little helps.
  • Volunteer to teach kids who can’t afford tuition.
  • Make it a point to give away the things you don’t use. Keep a big box handy to collect stuff to give away.
  • Feed your street people.
  • Sponsor a child’s education at your local welfare home
  • On special occasions, encourage people who give you gifts to contribute to charity instead.
  • Ask people if they need help.
  • See someone sad? Hug them. Soothe them. Hold their hand. Maybe they only need a listening ear, some kindness.
  • Have elderly neighbors? Run an errand for them.
  • Get in touch with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while.
  • Appreciate your colleague or friend. Let them know how wonderful they are
  • Praise someone.
  • Thank someone.
  • Clean out your fridge and give away some of your stuff.
  • Make surprise gift packs. They don’t have to be expensive – a book, some fruits, a pretty keepsake. Present them to those who need lifting up.
  • Say your I love you’s. Don’t need a special occasion.

Giving is easy. Every little counts.

You can give your time, your services, your talent.

So here is one of my favorite posters – something for you to reflect on:

Postponing Joy

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Proactive Indian October 5, 2013 at 5:38 am

Excellent post by a person who practises much more than she preaches!
While “‘Joy of Giving’ week” is a good initiative, it’s sad that we need something like this to remind us about people less fortunate than us.
Your poster is great! What many people don’t realise is that selfless service actually promotes one’s long-term self-interest!
Proactive Indian recently posted…No fine or bribe even after a traffic offence??!!

Viola Tam October 5, 2013 at 6:01 am

Hi Vidya,

Great insights! I cannot agree more with your view about cultivating the habit of gratitude and giving in children. I heard that there is science supporting that. By giving, we feel happier!

By giving, we actually ‘get’ without actually wanting to get. Isn’t that beautiful?

Great tips about the many ‘little’ ways of giving. Sometimes, it is those really simple questions like ‘Are you okay?’ that can help others immensely.

Awesome sharing! Thanks, Vidya!

Viola Tam – The Business Mum

Harleena Singh October 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Hi Vidya,

It’s been a while…but I know we are all so busy that finding the time gets impossible at time. But yes, I too had put up a similar post when the Joy of Giving week was about to start – and the ways we can give. It doesn’t have to be regarding money at all – there are so many other better ways.

Like your Mom, mine too was a giver and she would just take off her woolens and give to the poor and needy – as I’ve fond memories of her doing that on a cold winter day. When and if a person wants to give – they find ways, isn’t it?

Thanks for sharing, and have a nice weekend – DO keep in touch as well 🙂
Harleena Singh recently posted…Celebrate the Joy of Giving in Your Life

PhenoMenon October 5, 2013 at 3:57 pm

Giving is good but giving for the sake of getting something in return is not worth it. It could be either gratitude or anything else. I have seen a lot of generous people in this category too who complain “After all that I did this is what happens”. Its better not to expect anything while giving


PhenoMenon recently posted…Glittering Jewels

Vishnu October 5, 2013 at 9:37 pm

hi Vidya – giving to others makes us feel so good, doesn’t it? Compliments, praise, giving thanks are just some simple everyday things we can do without having to do much. One great example I have of giving is going to a health fair for work a few weeks ago. It was a really hot day and the organizers had asked us to bring a tent/canopy for the sun. Most everyone did except the organization next to us. I simply asked them to move in under our tent and they were very grateful. It doesn’t require money or big acts of generosity to give. The smallest acts of giving seem to be the most appreciated.
Vishnu recently posted…How to Confront Hate.

Kalpana Solsi October 5, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Vidyaji , my mom always tell me that if we have to donates clothes, food , money etc , it should be done thru the children so that they learn the art of giving and I fully agree with it. Giving away without expecting anything in return is divine.

obsessivemom October 5, 2013 at 11:09 pm

As usual another inspiring one from you Vidya. Interesting how we know all of this yet it takes someone to say it to remind us of the simple ways we can make a difference. Thank you.

Vaisakh Venugopal October 6, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Wonderfully uplifting this one! Made my day. Thanks Vidya 🙂
Vaisakh Venugopal recently posted…Dreams – a haiku

Nischala October 6, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Excellent post Vidya. Giving is so important. We live in an age when there is no end to our wants / needs and desires. We tend to accumulate so much, and hang on to it thinking it is the pathway to happiness. In reality, there is no larger joy than giving! Nischala
Nischala recently posted…Nischala’s ABC Series : 6 T’s which make all the Difference in your LIFE [UBC Post 5]

richmiraclefiles October 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Hi vidya,
Giving indeed is truely beneficial for the giver and the receiver,both, when it is done without any expectation or memory of it at all.that is the highest form of altruism and selflessness.The Bible tells you that the left hand should not know what the right is giving!
That is why forgiving someone is also a form of giving.And it is genuine only when forgiveness is followed up with forgetting about the unpleasant act totally, or that you have done an obligation to someone by forgiving them.
So i understand the purest form of giving to someone is your forgiveness accompanied by total “zero recall” of the wrong-doing, and the act of pardon from your side.

Kaarina Dillabough October 6, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Giving is good 🙂 Cheers! Kaarina
Kaarina Dillabough recently posted…When Expert Advice On Business Makes Your Head Spin

Pompa October 6, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Hi Sury madam,
Good explanation. Yes… what is called dhan in sanskrit, one of the basic principles in human life is going to be lost its inner meaning now. The joy of giving is unlimited.
Pompa recently posted…Insert watermark in Excel 2010

Kathy October 7, 2013 at 6:36 am

I love this “feel good” post and the awesome quote you began it with. Left me with a smile ♥
Kathy recently posted…Silent Sunday- Peacock Zentangle

Betsy/Zen Mama October 7, 2013 at 8:18 am

What a beautiful post! I really enjoyed it. So inspiring!! I’ll be trying some of your tips that are very doable! I’ll especially be smiling! 🙂
Betsy/Zen Mama recently posted…Give Your Child The Gift of Roots and Wings by Letting Go

Corinne Rodrigues October 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm

What great examples of giving you’ve had in your life, Vidya. No wonder, you’re always so generous with your knowledge and resources! I know that I’ve been the recipient of that generosity often enough. Thank you.
Absolutely love that poster. Might knock it off from you! ;0
Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Choices and Illusions: Book Blog Tour

Rae Buchanan October 8, 2013 at 7:53 pm

Vidya, so glad you invited me by. This was such a sweet post, your family sounds like such an inspiration and you obviously are following their lead. So glad to have found you online!

Vidya Sury October 8, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Welcome, Rae! I am very happy you visited. I love your blog and could easily get lost in there – your photos are beautiful and those projects are such fun! 🙂 I look forward to visiting you regularly!

Gavriel October 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm

What an inspiring post. Giving without expecting anything in return is a truly beautiful thing. I am more inspired to give and make others happier. Thank you so much for your words 🙂


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