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Give Without Guilt

All my life I heard the saying, “it is better to give than to receive.”  I heard it so many times that I started to resent it.  If it truly is better to give than to receive, why do we demand raises?  Why don’t we just work 18 hours a day without getting paid overtime?  Why do we want handouts from the government’s stimulus bill?  Why don’t we just give 90% of our income to the government?  When I looked around, the masses were telling me that giving is good but it sure seems that they prefer to receive.  

I recently gained a new friend who within 2 weeks flipped my sentiment right on its head.  I can tell you that it is much better to give than to receive…it’s a whole world better!  The big distinction is that you have to give because you want to, not because you have to.

You want to

Many people have found some sort of charity that they enjoy giving to.  They might love their church, the charities that are advertised by an employer, the posters laying around a university, or even the hungry fella on the bench downtown.

The important part of your gift is that you want to give it.  There is no fulfillment when the government holds you upside down and shakes the money out of your pockets.  Similarly, you don’t feel particularly proud when a bum tells you a blatant lie but you still feel socially pressured to hand this fella your change.

Find what moves you

One man’s charity is another man’s trash.  Maybe the poor kids on Saturday morning TV tug at your heart strings?  Maybe your church is in desperate need of a new building?  But what if you have no money or aren’t particularly concerned about the familiar outlets?

My grandmother recently taught my little cousin a very valuable lesson in money.  He was at the right age where he will never forget it.  The lesson cost her $20 but he will grow into a much better man because of it.  The lesson was her gift; the money was inconsequential.

I once knew a person who needed money but wanted to keep his dignity.  He wasn’t interested in handouts, but was severely short on cash.  I put him right to work; he detailed my fiancee’s car and then mine.  He did such a great job that by the time he finished my car, he had a line of other people that kept him busy until midnight.  That was the day his life changed; he now earns in 1 day what he used to earn in a week.  I thought I gave him a job but it turns out my gift became a business.  He and I are still friends and I continue to give to help his business grow.

Options to give

Fortunately in life we’re not limited to just money.  Money is the most obvious mode for charity, but it doesn’t have to be the only thing.  We also aren’t limited to who we give things to.  Rich people sometimes need even more help than the poor.

Many times a person will just start a conversation with someone at the supermarket.  Why?  Maybe because they’re friendly.  But sometimes that person was down and the friendly face was the best gift he or she could have received.

Put on your thinking cap and brainstorm a few ways that you can give.  When you find your own way to give, you will have found one new step towards infinite happiness.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. Your Job is a Gift - Act Accordingly - Smart Path to Happiness linked to this post on June 2, 2009

    [...] to make sure you are happy.  Developing a group of folks who have the mission to keep you happy (because they want to, not have to) is another step towards infinite [...]

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