Most of the time we’re worried about what we get during life rather than what we give. By most measures, our worth is judged by what we have accumulated rather than what we have given. However, it’s highly likely that what we give is more important than what we get and, in some extraordinary ways, the universe is trying to make this painfully obvious to us but we just don’t see it. It’s almost like we’ve been given the gift of giving and don’t realise what a wonderful thing that is. Let’s have a bit of fun exploring what I mean.
This world is mostly founded on taking
When we’re born, we really don’t want much except food, love and to have fun, but then we’re quickly taught how life should be filled with striving, getting things, acquiring things and taking. What are some of the things we’re taught to take?
- make sure we get food before it’s all gone
- how good can our birthday presents be?
- if your sibling gets something, you want it too or something even better
- “what can we get out of life?”
- we’re taught to strive for many things
- “you won’t be a success unless you work hard”
- get educational degrees
- get a job
- get a home
- get ahead
- get a promotion
- get a mortgage
- get a fancy car
- get a spouse
- get a good pension
- get a holiday home
- “as easy as taking candy from a baby”
The list is endless really. But taking doesn’t really work. It doesn’t solve anything. Once we have a “take” mentality, we won’t be satisfied no matter how much we have, we’ll always want to get something more.
Taking requires effort and often needs a lot of striving. Taking by definition “takes away” from humankind, it doesn’t build, it detracts.
The opposite of taking is to give and this contributes to humankind, it builds, and we’ve all been given the gift of giving. Have you ever noticed in the language we use, the word “give” comes up so often we almost don’t notice it.
Notice how often we use the word “give”
Wars are really bad things but to end them we can “give up“.
Arguments with someone can be horrible but to end them we can “give in“.
When there’s not enough room for everyone at the same time, we can “give way“.
When we’re really pleased with something we can “give thanks“.
If we’re mad at somebody it can all go away instantly with a little “forgiveness“.
We naturally admire givers
Everyone naturally admire mothers and parents when they “give” all they can to their children. We admire doctors and nurses as they give so much of themselves to their patients. Also rescue crews as they give the potential loss of their own lives to save others. And of course, charitable carers like Mother Theresa who give their whole lives to help others.
These people have been given the gift of giving and they are passing on the same gift.
What sort of things can we give?
It doesn’t have to be a tangible thing that we give. In fact, the most important things we can give are free and there’s no reason we can’t give them to everyone all the time. Here are some examples of things we can easily give;
- Give people more room on the road
- Give people more time when you’re waiting
- Give people a smile
- Give people a hug
- Give people your attention while listening
- Give people a break and do their chores
- Give people a break and ignore something they just did that annoys you
- Give someone a call to see how they are
- Give someone a hand
In fact, the spirit of giving is in the intention. It’s the willingness to give that’s key, and the best things to give are things that are free.
The gift of giving was given to us freely, so to pass it on is free also.
Forgiveness – The greatest form of giving
I love the word “forgiveness” because it stands for such a powerful thing and the word “give” is buried in there. One of the definitions of forgiving that I like is simply “to cease to feel resentment against“, but the most comprehensive definition of forgiveness I’ve found is this one;
Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
Isn’t that amazing?
By this definition the person offering forgiveness is giving something very powerful to the other person and to themselves at the same time. Forgiveness is really giving peace to giver and the receiver. It’s an example of the gift of giving going full circle.
Most of the things we don’t like about our lives disrupt our peace. Wouldn’t we just love it if our lives could be utterly peaceful? No urgent bills that need paying with money you don’t have. No neighbour arguing about the tree growing over into his yard. No need to put up with that nasty boss at work. No need to get the washing done before tomorrow morning.
We would all just like to have peace.
But peace is free, easy and the natural state. We have to do something to disrupt peace to make it seem to disappear.
We can allow peace back to take its rightful place by practicing forgiveness. By forgiving others we release them into peace and we disarm the feelings and attitudes that we’d been storing that were causing a disruption to our own peace.
Giving and oneness
This leads on to my final thought on this topic. My most recent post before this one was Only oneness can survive which explored the probability that we are all part of the same “oneness”, and at some level we are actually all the same.
If oneness is true (I think it is), then everything we give we are actually giving to ourselves. The more we give, the more we get. Might sound weird but it also sort of feels right.
The most important thing we can give if forgiveness and the more we give, the more we’re forgiving ourselves for everything we thought we’ve done. The more we forgive, the more we “let go of negative emotions” and undergo “a change of feeling and attitude” that lead directly to peace.
What could be better than that?
The Gift of Giving – some inspirational “peace” quotes & related links
“If the human race wishes to have a prolonged and indefinite period of material prosperity, they have only got to behave in a peaceful and helpful way toward one another.” – Winston Churchill
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15
“I believe in the religion of Islam. I believe in Allah and peace” – Muhammad Ali
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” – Buddha
“Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.” – Buddha
“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one” – John Lennon
“Peace begins with a smile.” – Mother Teresa
- Also, do you remember the 2000 film called “Pay It Forward“? That’s a recent example suggesting that giving can change the world.
- Here are some nice examples of “giving” people (could also say loving, forgiving people) giving of themselves and doing nice things – http://www.zueo.com/people-doing-nice-things/
- And here’s an interesting article on giving and gratitude from dailygood.org