“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.
- 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: