A wise person once told me, “give freely or don’t give at all”. The sentiment has stuck with me for years now, and it has become one of many indisposable bits of wisdom that I have learned to live by. Giving, for me, is just another word for expressing kindness. When we offer a kind gesture, or word, or a physical gift of some sort, it should always be an act of kindness. It should be an expression of love and friendship, a gift that transfers something positive to the receiver.
The act of giving and living generously is rewarding beyond measure. We all have a wealth of gifts at our disposal to offer freely and without restraint. Most of us however, have been taught to mind our own, to stick with our own, to be wary of any outsiders.
Contrary to what some people may want to admit, we are all social creatures and we are reliant on our interactions with others to fulfill and sustain us. We seek acceptance. We seek meaningful communication. We look toward each other eagerly awaiting a kind word or an invitation. Life is meaningless without relationships. We function at our highest levels when our social needs are met, and conversely, at our lowest when they are not.
Human beings will not always get along, and the truth of this statement seems to become even more true as we age. This can be seen as we watch our young ones grow. They go from running into each others arms at first sight to a slow and steady introversion, and they become more reserved – as though that intrinsic trust they once held toward one another has been called into question. Why would this be?
One likely contributor to this behavioral change may well be the introduction of divisive ideologies that are rampant throughout society. It seems that as we grow, we adopt ever increasing ways to recede into ourselves and concoct elaborate excuses to exclude others from our ever shrinking circle of friends and family.
We create divisions across every conceivable social divide. When we are taught to be wary of the ‘other’, or the ‘outsider’, there is no shortage of ways to rationalize how to do so. We simply look in the mirror and at our immediate friends and family and exclude all else. In a world so rich with diversity it becomes a game of familiarity. A biased system that perpetuates the death of the oneness we felt as children. It creates a self fulfilling prophecy that has the individual utterly alone and isolated once fully realized. It is a cancerous progression of divisive thoughts that compartmentalizes the self into an ever shrinking safe haven, as more and more space is occupied by the ‘others’. This self- imprisonment hurts us deeply.
Essentially, we are all the same. Socially we all need and want the same things. We can simultaneously offer and receive these meaningful interactions with one another. Offer up a smile and a nod, a gentle hug, a nudge and a smirk, a kind word, a pat on the back, a heartfelt expression of any kind- and that interaction- no matter how minute or short In time- will leave an indelible mark on both of your lives. Earlier I said that we all have a wealth from which we can freely give, and that wealth is our true-selves. The part of ourselves that does not listen to the chatter of mind that spews fear and anxiety.
Show the world that you don’t buy into the bigotry, the racism, the sexism, the chauvinism, the political shell game or any other exclusionary system of indoctrination. No matter what you held against someone yesterday, you are free to accept them today and offer them your kindness. A lifetime of division can be destroyed with just one kind expression. Forgive, Heal, and Live. Lets start a kindness revolution!!
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A book recommendation for those who want to know more on the subject of giving;
Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving by Patricia Spadaro. Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving (the winner of two national book awards) tackles the issue that plagues so many of us–the struggle to balance the needs of family, career, and even community with our own needs. But rather than focusing on how to pamper ourselves, Honor Yourself goes to the heart of the problem and reveals the real source of our stress: our inability to recognize and embrace the little-understood but all-pervasive power of paradox in our lives.
Should I sacrifice for others or take time to care for myself? Be generous or draw boundaries? Stay in a relationship or say goodbye? When I give to others, do I really need to give up myself? Tensions like these are not only a natural part of life–they are life. While modern society is ill-equipped to bring us back into balance, the sages of East and West are experts, and Honor Yourself explores their practical, and surprising, advice. Combining wisdom from the world’s great spiritual traditions with real-life stories and a treasury of tools, it exposes the most potent myths about giving–half-truths that prevent us from living a life filled with possibility and passion. With candor, compassion, and a bit of humor too, Spadaro shows us how to move beyond the myths to the magic of full-hearted living so we can unleash the full power of our creative spirit and give our greatest gifts to our loved ones, our communities, and the world.
We are called to master the delicate dance of giving and receiving in virtually every area of our lives, and this beautiful work offers empowering and heartfelt ways to do it. It will free you to celebrate your own gifts and greatness as you explore the dynamics behind giving with the heart rather than the head, setting boundaries, being honest about unhealthy people in your life, using feelings to stay true to yourself, giving in ways that honor others, finding your own voice, honoring endings, and much more. Just as importantly, Honor Yourself will teach you the steps for staying in balance. For when you learn the steps, you can perform the dance–and that’s when the magic begins.