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The Act of Giving


Photo by Gwen Weustink via Unsplash

“We should not simply give only so that we shall receive”.

There are many ways in which an act of giving can be accomplished. Whether it is advice, a hand, or something of value, defining oneself as a “giving person” is not easily summed up in a sentence or two. However, when someone is referred as being a “giving spirit”, that aims more at the person’s character, a generosity of soul, and a charitable heart. There is hardly any doubt that someone with this kind of reputation wouldn’t hesitate to offer assistance without being asked.

A giving spirit has no age restrictions nor is it gender specific. There is no “How to” book and it certainly does not require an education, degree, or certification. Generally, it is cultivated from an empathetic mindset and common decency. Social media has documented many wonderful stories of children, barely old enough to read, performing outstanding deeds of compassion for those in their community and beyond.

However, what causes one person to have more generosity than another? Scientists may argue that part of it is hereditary while others contend it is formed by our environment. Undeniably there is a sense of satisfaction when one performs a kind deed for another but why do some seem to be compelled to give more than others?

Answering a question from another’s perspective can be a bit presumptuous so I wish to share my personal experience in the hopes that it will create some insight. For most of my life, I would not have classified myself as an overly giving person. When it came to giving anything, I would much rather have donated time than money. Although never considering myself poor, earning money had been a struggle and giving it away required overly cautious consideration. “How could I give to this cause when I had so many other debts myself” was the way I usually talked myself out of departing with a dollar.

One day I was chatting with a friend and we talked about the idea of a giving spirit. Little did I know that her thoughts would have a huge impact on my life. She said, “The Universe is a reflection of us. If we choose to be stingy, that is what it will reflect back to us.”

Interestingly enough, about 6 months prior to this, I had been forcing myself to be a more giving person. I wasn’t trying to prove the old adage, “The more you give the more you receive”, I was simply trying to see myself undoing an old habit of the buck stays in my wallet. But the way RaShelle put it really struck a chord. I could look back at myself and see someone who should have been more financially generous to others.

Receiving something in return should not be the reason something is given. Isaac Newton’s third law of motions states “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” and while this works in the physical world, it should not be the basis for our generosity of spirit. I would dare say that if this were the reason one proposes to be generous, then by default, that purpose is undermined.

Thank you to Gwen Weunstink via Unsplash for the beautiful photograph and I look forward to your thoughts.

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