I’ve never been a particularly philanthropic person, finding reasons not to give money or time to good causes, and I always felt bad about that. It’s probably the dichotomy of being brought up in a time and place where ‘money didn’t grow on trees’ and ‘being a good Christian’ (that was the cultural norm, not any religious affiliation) was expected.
Giving seems like an automatic win, you help someone and, bazinga, one big bonus point for you in the universe somewhere, but I can’t help feeling like you should want to help, and of course the recipient should actually want the help being offered, otherwise you get some combination of win-lose-lose or win-win-lose.
Sure, you can feel good from the act of giving, even when the act itself didn’t ring your bells, but I see this crazy mixed up situation going on where people consider this selflessness a duty.
Selfless is a word I get stuck on, because I happen to believe we live in a world where we are all connected, and everything we do impacts everything else, thereby we are inherently selfish. Yet most people are so disconnected from themselves and their own true nature, they truly are selfless but not in a good way.
Most people spend too much of their time doing things they don’t really want to do, based on this idea that they have to sacrifice in order to be (at some future point) happy, wealthy and/or healthy – or make someone else (a person or some deity) happy, wealthy or healthy.
It’s not that I am bereft of compassion; on the contrary, it comes oozing out of me at the mere whiff of a good story. It’s just that I want to feel a connection with the cause or person I’m giving to, and I want to feel like the giving is effortless, benefiting both of us.
Lately I seem to have been giving – and feeling good about it - more than at any other time in my life, and think it stems from two things. The first is that I’ve figured out who I am, I’m in tune with my inner world and sense the connection to something much bigger than the mind constructed version of me. The second is that I’ve started to take the tact of figuring out what I can and want do for others, rather than what I feel I should do.
Knowing when to give is the bit that can be tricky, for fear of over-stepping boundaries or making someone feel less empowered. Nowadays I try to make a point to ask permission before I give if I’m unsure.
Like when the mum of one of my daughter’s school friends gave birth to their latest family member last year. The teacher kept prompting us to make meals, but that felt like it was stressful at the time with everything else going on. Yet the thought had already occurred to me when I’d seen her walking her daughter to school, before she gave birth to her new son, how easy it would be for me to pick her daughter up, and drop her off, as we practically drove past their door.
So I offered to do just that, and she was very grateful for the help; it was so effortless it honestly felt almost embarrassing to be the recipient of any gratitude. Now we have become friends and our kids regularly travel to and from school with each other.
Then there was the obligation to put in some volunteer hours at the school fair. I have to admit I happily let my mother-in-law be my substitute helping to set up the cake stall, because she is way better than me at making quick decisions and knows the price of preserves, to her it was easy. I knew my path of least resistance was looking after the kids.
But then there’s those who look to me for support on things they feel less confident about and know I’ve overcome. Sometimes that can be a bit tricky, especially when it’s related to technology or numbers, both of which make me want to poke my eyes out with pins. So I look at those situations and say “here’s what I can do..”
Yet when people ask for advice on the stuff that comes easily to me, like communications - especially written or visual - I’ll always have an opinion and be happy to share my tips and tricks. That stuff just comes so naturally it’s really no problem at all.
Mostly what I really love, is helping people with the deep stuff, the big questions in life. If there is any cause I want to champion, it is being true to yourself, being who you are, being consciously aware of whether your thoughts are serving you or defeating you, and whether you are living your best life, following your passion.
When friends, or readers, get in touch and tell me about some challenge they are facing and ask my advice, I relish the reciprocal challenge of getting them to tap into their own answers, and make their own true desires a priority in their life. It’s knowing the change that will result for them, and those around them, that lights my fire.
Giving is something that should be about ease and joy, not sacrifice and duty. The win-win-win stuff, when you inspire or empower someone doing something you love, and get the warm fuzzies from having helped, is where it’s at.
Knowing I’ve helped in some way through my writing means a lot - I’d love for you to like, comment on, or share these thoughts with others, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’m always happy to help if I can. To be the first to receive these posts, you can also subscribe to my newsletter and, as a special thank you, you will receive the link to my video 3 Steps to Becoming You.
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