The Power of Giving

There is a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. For a year, inherit a fortune. For a lifetime, help somebody.” And as Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

Giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. It does not only help the receivers, but it also helps you too as a person, and it gives you a purpose in life. Helping others helps you to live a happier, healthier, wealthier, more productive, and more meaningful life. Most people say give until it hurts but I say, give until it feels great.

There are different types of giving and I have put across 4 of them below;

4 different categories of giving

1. The first one is sacrificial giving or what I like to term selfless giving

This is the type of giving that comes from deep within. It is driven by the need you see in others and is not about what you have. You give even from the little that you have, share that little with someone and assist them. It is done selflessly and you expect nothing in return but the joy of the receiver.

2. The second category is what I termed passion giving

This is the kind of giving that is driven by your own passion. We all care about different things and it is that passion that drives you into giving. Your passion will be the foundation of your giving and it’s not about how much you give but how much passion you put into it. We all care about different things and passionate giving is centered on this. It is giving that leaves you feeling good.

3. The 3rd category of giving is ego-boosting giving

There are people who give just to boost their ego or create a positive image for themselves within the community. It is giving for recognition. The givers want to boost their ego by seeing their names engraved on benches in the park, and buildings and mentioned through the media and social networks.

4. The 4th category is reward-seeking giving

This is giving in order for you to get something in return. The giver gives because they expect to get something in return. I have always said this is not giving but a business transaction.

Looking at the above 4 I am sure we all know in which category we fit, the key is to find the approach that fits us best. However, people who truly master the art of giving, are those who give out of the goodness of their hearts with no self-serving motives. When this happens, giving becomes a blessing for the giver and receiver because after all has been said, giving should lead you to gain purpose, meaning, and happiness, and this happens when you give selflessly and with enthusiasm.

There is however a notion that people always have about giving and I would like to dismiss that notion. Most people think that giving involves money only, which is not correct. Gifts do not necessarily have to be bought or to be expensive, I believe that the best gifts are those that are given with love, and this festive season I decided to come up with a list of things that we can all give and most of them do not even involve money. Below is a list of gifts that you can give this festive season.

What you can give this festive season and beyond

As human beings, it’s easier to just pass the ball and say, I will give when I have more. But as I always point out, we all already have much more than we need to give, and below I will show you how by pointing out to you things that you can give this festive season and even throughout the year. Generosity is a choice not a privilege for the few.

The following are gifts that you can give and make a difference

  1. Give of Your Talents

Train someone on your skill. Are you good at soccer, painting landscaping, or dressmaking? Then you can train someone. I am a crafter and some of my best moments are those spent training others to craft

  1. Give your knowledge

The giving of knowledge is not only a gift that works today but it is a gift that empowers the other person for life. Whatever you know, find out who can benefit from that knowledge and share the knowledge with them. You don’t lose anything and as Rumi said, “A candle never loses any of its light whilst lighting another.” I actually feel that the more you share your knowledge with others, the more you sharpen it for yourself and the more you think outside the box. It may be knowledge about life, a certain skill, or a qualification you have, you can share that knowledge as a form of giving.

  1. Give your energy

As I have journeyed in life, I have realized that as human beings we have the energy for different things. And as I always say, there is so much to fight for in the world, you just need to choose a fight that you have the energy for. Some have the energy to fight hunger, some gender-based violence, some human rights, some health problems, some rape, and some abuse. Whatever you have the energy for, it can be your gift to humanity, don’t take it for granted, share that energy with others and it will change lives. You may not believe it but somebody somewhere is waiting for someone with your kind of energy to just say to them, I believe in this cause and I think together we can fight this!

  1. Give blood

It’s amazing how a donation of blood can go a long way in saving someone’s life. If you can donate blood then do so and save a life.

  1. Give your time

A lot of times people don’t realize the importance of time but as I always say, and even wrote an article about it, time is more precious than money, time is life. Because when you give someone a part of your time, you are sharing with them a piece of your life that you will never get back. It doesn’t have to be your whole day necessarily, even devoting a couple of hours to service, is life-changing in somebody’s life.

  1. Give compliments

Compliments are often underrated but they do go a long way for those who receive them. They create positivity in those who receive them. Never underestimate the power of positive words when someone is going through a rough day. When you read something positive, you can pass it on to someone with a heartfelt note of, “this just reminded me of you and how special you are”. This will lift somebody’s spirit and can change someone’s day.

  1. Give advice or recommendations

Although this may seem like nothing it will help someone a great deal. If you know maybe a book or blog or product that would help someone, recommend it to them. Advise them on things that you know would help them cope better with life. This enriches the life of the person who receives the advice or recommendation. You can even send your recommendation with a heartfelt note, I really found this quite helpful and realized it would make a difference in your life”.

  1. Give your smile and laughter

Smile and laughter are irresistible. Give this gift to those who pass through your life every day and it has the power to brighten up their day. Everybody deserves happiness, be the one to initiate the feeling of warmth in others. Smile widely and laugh loudly with everyone.

  1. Give out an invitation

Now this sounds like a crazy idea but trust me, this gesture goes a long way. There are people who always feel excluded in life and feel like nobody cares or wants them around and the gesture of being invited to an event will change their perspective. It will give them the feeling that somebody actually values them and wants them around. When you invite someone, you are saying, you are important to me and I want to share this moment with you.

  1. Give love

There is no hunger that affects more people in the world than hunger for love. Make someone feel loved, special, and appreciated. Love is the greatest gift that anyone can ever give and the whole world is hungry for love. Offer someone your affection for no apparent reason, even if you know they may not be able to return it to you. Those who love the most are those who do it even when it is hardest to do so. Give someone a big hug or kiss or pat on the back, a warm hold of their hand, a tender look, and make them feel loved. Nobody is ever satisfied or content in the area of love, we are all needy when it comes to love, even those who seem to have everything materially.

You may not even need to visit, you may just take time to call or send them an email checking up on them or send them a card. Today handwritten notes and cards are rare gifts but to me, those are still great artifacts that make a great impact. They go a long way than you can ever imagine.

  1. Give attention, give respect

I am not sure about a man but I know one of the best gifts you can give to a woman is attention. To women, attention can actually be equated with love. To men, I know respect is equated to love. Give attention and respect and this will go a long way in making someone feel loved.

  1. Give encouragement

A lot of time people are battling with something and they face a lot of discouragement from the world. All they need to keep pushing is just a little encouragement from someone but often, people do not give that. Doubt and fear are quite crippling and a little encouragement can dismantle all that. Encourage people to work on their dreams or face and confront their fears, it is life-changing.

  1. Give forgiveness

A guilty conscience can cripple someone’s life for a very long time. When people have wronged you, find it in your heart to forgive them, and above that, let them know that you have forgiven them. Forgiveness offers to heal both the forgiver and the forgiven and it mends broken relationships.  You also need to give forgiveness yourself and let go of your past mistakes.

  1. Give Kindness

The world is so full of arrogant and self-serving people. What it lacks are compassionate people. Give your kindness and without realizing it, you will be making a great impact on changing the world. Say a kind word to someone, open the door for someone, assist someone in carrying their groceries, offer to buy someone’s child a sweet, assist a child in crossing the road, or offer your seat to an elderly or disabled person. Although this may seem easy it goes a long way and kindness is shown in a lot of different ways.

Kindness is contagious. A small act of kindness has the power to spread happiness far and wide.

  1. Share your belongings with others

You don’t necessarily need to buy something for you to be able to give. You can also share what you already have. A lot of times we have things that are just lying in our homes for years without use. Those things that you don’t need anymore, maybe junk to you but to someone, they can be their treasure. Whatever you have, be it food, clothes, or anything that you feel you have in excess, you can share it with someone. It may not mean much to you but to the other person, it will mean the world. Give things that you don’t use.

  1. Give money

It’s easy to give things and even buy gifts and offer lunch meals and holiday invitations but sometimes what would really change someone’s life is giving them that money. I remember there was a time in my life that I was so broke and even if someone bought me a very expensive gift, I would not appreciate it as much as I would have appreciated them giving me half or even a quarter of that money. People don’t usually appreciate fancy things especially if they are struggling so much to meet their basic needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can come in handy in this matter. You can actually ask someone if they would appreciate a gift or money.

Out of the 16 things above, I am sure you can also find at least one that you can give. Giving is one of the best investments you can make toward achieving genuine happiness. True giving comes from the heart, with no expectation of reciprocation. But even though we may give without expectation of any reward, you will find that the more you give, the more you’ll receive.

As the Chinese proverb says: “If you always give, you will always have.” And Ken Blanchard also supported this proverb when he said, “The more I give away, the more comes back.”

My personal experience with giving

Giving has always been part of my DNA which I inherited from my mother and I grew up with it. I have always been giving things and volunteering my time for service in different institutions however recently, I had to add to my giving list by volunteering at a mental health institution.

A few months ago, I decided to take my stance by volunteering in mental health. Growing up as an African I realized how mental health problems have always been given little to no attention. Yet a lot of people struggle with emotional and mental health problems and in extreme cases, they end up committing suicide because they don’t get help. So because of the above, I decided to volunteer in providing counseling services. I searched for organizations where I could volunteer and found a great match.

How I did it

With my busy work schedule, I knew deep down that adding to my already overloaded schedule would be an almost impossible mission but I went ahead with it anyway. Even in my interview when asked about my schedule, my interviewer took a deep pause and said…I don’t think you have the time to do this, you are already overloaded. With my child-like sense of humor, I just smiled and responded, “Elizabeth Andrew once said and I quote, ‘Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.’ Deep down I also didn’t know how I was going to do it but I kept telling myself, “Where there is a will there is a way”.

After being accepted, I decided to use my festive holiday break to go in every day and get as much training as my 3 weeks break would allow. I went there every day, even on Christmas, Boxing, and New Year’s holiday, including all weekends.

After the 3 weeks of learning, I felt very confident to start my counseling sessions then I selected 1 day during the week on which I would volunteer throughout the year. I can testify to you that my life has never been more fulfilling than this. It has opened to me a whole new world of mental health problems that people struggle with every day and I don’t think even my 30 years of being alive has provided me with such deep knowledge regarding mental health.

Due to the above, I want to encourage someone to also take a stand and give in whatever way they choose. It may seem scary at first but I have written below some tips on how you can tune your mind into a giving mode. I can promise you that there is nothing that is more self-rewarding than giving. Even though your reward does not come in the form of financial benefits or recognition but people will never ever forget how you made them feel.

How to tune your mind into a giving mode

  1. Be grateful for what you have. Gratitude makes you realize that you have something that is worthy and valuable. If you are able to count your blessings then you can realize that you are able to share them with others.
  2. Realize that not everyone has what you have. If you realize that not everyone is privileged enough to have what you have then you will realize the need to share your blessings with others.
  3. Know that only through giving can love be shared. Someone once said love is not loving until you give it away. We have to give in order for us to prove our love. It doesn’t matter what we have to give but without giving, it is almost impossible to show love.
  4. Understand that by giving you are making a difference. Making a difference is one of the greatest pursuits that any human being can embark on. It gives meaning to your life and to the life of the receiver at the same time.

Do whatever you can and it will go a long way. Do not let the vastness of the need you see around you cripple you from doing something. No matter how small your act of kindness is, trust me it will go a long way in changing lives. “Kindness need not be a huge project; small, well-meant gestures go a long way to make a big difference.”

Above everything else, let your gift always be wrapped with love.

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