The art of giving and learning to give back

“Money is not the only commodity that is fun to give. We can give time, we can give our expertise, we can give our love or simply give a smile. What does that cost? The point is, none of us can ever run out of something worthwhile to give.”
Steve Goodier

If you were to look around you and take inventory of the moments that gave you the most satisfaction in your day, the moments that made you smile and feel good inside, what would they be? You might draw on the experiences of Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness, Zappos’ Delivering Happiness, Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage, or Bob Burg’s The Go Giver to connect with the fact that we feel wonderful during the times when we’re able to give. Truly global living can really be called global giving.

What is it to truly give?

Giving comes in many shapes and forms, the ones we know best are usually presents.

“Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not the merits of who receives them.”
Carlos Ruiz Zafón, The Shadow of the Wind

It is one of life’s paradoxes that we limit the power of your giving by having an expectation of getting something in return. The wonderful surprise is that when we give without any thought or desire for something back, our returns can be truly limitless. How often do we expect to get something back — of equal or greater value — from the person we gave something to? Is this the true meaning of giving or is it merely an unvoiced expectation of an exchange of similar goods or favors?

Before you feel like this is becoming too fluffy to keep reading, let me share a personal story.

My Father, the epitome of giving

My father spent his whole working life in government services — the majority as an electrician, taking care of public networks. He had always been good with his hands and although not highly educated, very smart in his way. When he served for 40 years he was entitled to an early retirement.

During his years of service he gave thousands of people the security of government-serviceshaving electricity at home and the opportunity to quickly and permanently resolve problems in the networks.

When he retired he found great joy in helping out anybody in the neighborhood, both with electricity issues as well as anything that involved doing something with his hands. You just had to call him, he grabbed his bag of tools and was on his way.

He always had, found or made time to help somebody out whether it was by giving a hand, giving a bit of his time or giving some of his talent, these things made him happy and he never asked for anything in return.

To me, my father was the personification of ‘the art of giving’.

Five steps to get in the right mindset for generous giving

These are adapted from the fantastically simply WikiHow on being generous.

  1. Give from the heart. If we truly want to be generous, then we have to give just because we want to give, not because we have ulterior motives and want something in return.
  2. Know that being generous will make us happier. Being generous helps us feel more compassionate towards others, gives a stronger sense of community, and to establishes a higher self-image.
  3. Notice what would make someone’s life easier. When we talk to someone, start wondering about how we could help them instead of always thinking about how they can help us.
  4. Be grateful for what you have. Being more grateful will put us in the mindset to be a more generous person. If we are able to appreciate all that we have, we’ll be more likely to share some of those great things with others, to help them appreciate life as well
  5. Don’t forget to be generous to yourself. Though volunteering, caring for others, and giving our time is a great way to be generous, we shouldn’t forget about our self completely in the process.

Our Little Book of Giving Back

While sometimes it seems like there are more and more examples of us heading toward a dark time, there also seem to be so many more examples of us being a giving world. Giving isn’t a novel idea. In fact it’s one of Jurgen Appelo’s 12 Ways to be Happy.

So here’s my Happy Melly Weekly Happiness Challenge to you

Let’s write, as a community, our stories about giving with the objective to be able to publish a short e-book by the end of our week. Let’s create the Happy Melly Community – Art Of Giving book. art-of-giving-cover

Here’s what to do:

Step One: Think of any of the ways of giving (or any others you can think of in a work related or personal setting and feel free to add them below):

  •         Give our talents.
  •         Give blood.
  •         Give recognition.
  •         Give a helping hand.
  •         Give a recommendation.
  •         Give the gift of laughter.
  •         Give an invitation.
  •         Give good advice.
  •         Give encouragement.
  •         Give money.

Step Two: Write a story about it.

Step Three: Share your story. If you’re a Happy Melly member add your story to the discussion in the #mindfulness Slack channel, otherwise add it in the comments below.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Winston S. Churchill

Want to make happiness a habit? Download a free poster of the 12 Steps to Happiness here! And then join in our global business network dedicated to happiness at work to start experimenting in all those ways toward happiness!

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