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The Gift of Giving

Giving blesses the giver, AND the receiver….
and when the receiver pays it forward, the blessings multiply exponentially….

When was the last time you gave something you valued away, just because you could?  You saw a need and were inspired to respond… or did you?

Why don't we give?

In our culture of fear, so many of us are afraid to give… there's the fear that we might be used - we might not get back, we're being “taken”, the fear that we really don't have enough to give, or the fear that the money might not go where it should… and sometimes we don't know that we should give, that someone close to us needs help.

When disaster strikes, there is no question of need. But when a neighbour or family member is needy, we often don't notice or simply assume that they can handle whatever problems they've been presented with. And if we're the ones in need, we're usually afraid to ask for help, in fear that we might be rejected, or worse yet, we hold back for fear folks might think badly of us….

Then, there are the real philanthropists… those in a position to be able to give generously often make themselves remote because they fear being asked to give…. They fund projects, foundations, charities, but rarely do they reach out to help one individual… that creates too many problems!.

“Takers' make givers want to hold back… the old story, win a pile of money and you suddenly find a whole set of cousins pounding on the door. …. but I believe “Takers” are created by the same culture of fear that has givers holding back. We need to find a way of breaking down the barriers between those who need and those who can give.

Giving and gratitude go hand and hand… giving is a way of giving thanks. What is awesome is that as the Secret teaches, being grateful for our blessings in life, tends to attract more blessings… and the same is true of giving - the more you give, the more you will have to give. The Law of Attraction at work!

I was inspired to write about giving this week by an interview with Bill Clinton about his book Giving. He and others of his ilk, have made tremendous progress in loosening the purse strings, not only of the very rich, but amongst all levels of society around the world. I urge you all to check out a site called Kiva, http://kiva.org/ where you can loan money to individuals in 3rd world countries who need help starting a business… an awesome concept that is proving to be tremendously successful and will enable millions of people to raise their standard of living all around the world. Kiva is doing a great work making it easy for those who need to find those who will give.

There are dozens of ways on the web that you can give by clicking to donate to charities,. What I like about the Kiva program is that your loan is going directly to the individual. You can build a relationship, even coach the person you have loaned money to - and loan amounts can be as small as $25!

Pay it Forward With Random Acts of Kindness….

Still, even this program creates some uneasiness within me. What bothers me is that too often we give from a distance. Supporting charities and relief funds is admirable, but there is little emotional attachment, little personal involvement in this kind of giving. Witness the Katrina tragedy… millions of dollars were raised immediately after the destruction… This kind of giving is too easy, doesn't take a lot of thought. It is certainly necessary and desirable, but on a personal level, you feel bad for a minute or three, decide you've done your part with a donation and get on with your life…… two years later, New Orleans is still something of a ghost town… once we've given, we tend to forget that it takes years for the individuals affected to recover and rebuild.

Giving to charities creates a culture of avoidance in the sense that once you give, you tend to feel you've done your share. You don't have to be directly involved in giving or caring about others' misfortunes, nor responsible for, nor noticing of your neighbours, even family members who need help… let alone those often in desperate need who are thousands of miles away.

One by one, as individuals, we need to rethink giving and to push through our fears around giving … and this means being more noticing and sensitive to the needs of those around us. Random Acts of Kindness can make a huge difference in our lives and are a most interesting way of breaking through our fear barriers. I will never forget the woman who pulled me aside for a warm hug as I was leaving her shop some years ago. “I can see that life is a struggle for you today. It looks like you need someone to care.” The tears I'd been holding back for weeks finally burst forth… I still well up when I remember that moment. She will never know how right she was, nor how that hug served to turn things around that day.

Giving without thinking, heartfelt generosity, as in dispensing random acts of kindness, blesses many times… both the giver and the receiver. What's more, the blessings multiply when we pay them forward… I may never be able to thank the woman who hugged me that day, but I can find thank her every time I pass her kindness on and thus I also pass on the blessings.

Remember that you got where you are through the help of others - so pay the help you received forward - look for someone to share your good fortune with…. be generous with your time and assets…

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