In the world of social media positivity of a prosperous society, we can perceive that others have a perfect life and we don’t. It is easy to become focused inward and become disgruntled about our own lives. Here’s what your thoughts may sound like:
- “They have so much time off work…I haven’t gone on a vacation in years!”
- “A new car? I will be happy if I can scrape together enough for this overdue repair!”
- “Oh, her daughter always makes such cute things for her.”
- “Wow. They are always on dates!”
- “He looks great! Where does he get the time to get to the gym all the time?”
- “Pay it forward? I wish someone would do that for me? I have never had anyone buy a drive-thru thing for me…”
- “Those seats are awesome! It would be so fun to be at that game. I haven’t been to a game since college.”
- “She is always so positive. Why does my life feel like there is always a challenge?”
It goes on and on and on. The more we notice and look at what others have, the more we can get focused on what we don’t have. We ruminate on what we desire, how others are less generous or do not give to us. We can feel slighted, ignored, unloved, and offended. As a result, we begin to be defined by our lack or emptiness. It is difficult to be generous when you feel you don’t have anything to give. Perhaps you don’t think that way. However, I believe most humans have moments, days, or seasons when they get focused on what they lack instead of what they do have and how they are blessed. So understanding how our mindset can drift toward scarcity and have tools to prevent it is the first step to being a great giver.
#1) Focus on the Blessings. First, focus on all the blessings you do have. Practice gratitude every morning and night by intentionally giving thanks for the gifts in your life. Have a list you think through:
- your health
- your relationships
- your shelter
- your mind
- your body
- your abilities (even as simple as seeing and hearing)
When we focus on all we do have, we realize we are rarely in lack and have plenty to give to others. We begin to have eyes that look outward rather than inward. We foster a spirit of appreciation and gratitude. We shift to just being thankful for the people and things around us rather than expecting more from them. Peace and contentment come when we see what is well and right with the world, rather then what is wrong.
#2) Give with Unattachment. Ironically, there are many heartwarming stories of those with very little, meaning homeless and only a few coins to their name, giving to others. These people have very little and you would think they would be very attached to the little they have. The opposite, however, is true. Rather than looking at THEIR NEED, they first look at the HIGHER NEED. They see others and the need at the moment and respond to that rather than hoarding or gathering up for themselves. They are selfless and unattached to prioritizing their needs. They see those around them first. When we spend our lives looking at those around us and their needs, we become more generous with our time, energy, and efforts. Amazingly there is enough and we are not lacking. On the contrary, we are often filled up and uplifted more when we bless someone else and bring joy and light to their day and life than just gathering stuff for ourselves.
#3) Give First. Sometimes we can want to help others but not know what to do. One way to generate a quick list of ideas and activities is to take your list of what you wish someone would do for you and do it for someone else.
If you wish someone would…
- …buy your lunch, buy theirs
- …give you flowers, get them flowers
- …come and help you, go and help them
- …pick up the park, pick it up
- …recognize the accomplishments of your kids, recognize the accomplishments of others
- …notice your hard work, notice and thank someone for their hard work
What do you appreciate when someone says, does or gives to you that you might be able to give to someone else first?
The passage “it is more blessed to give than to receive” is loaded with wisdom. While giving is not about receiving, trust that when you give, you will also receive. You receive not always in the ways you initially thought you wanted because that has now become less important. First, when you give, your own heart is at peace and thankful. Second, you bring blessing and joy to others as you build them up when selflessly show love. Third, this often starts a chain reaction of kindness and generosity.