Giving, Act II

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“If the act of giving is troublesome, it’s time to start practicing”

Last week’s article generated lots of great comments (click here to read it). One of them, made by someone whom I hold in the highest esteem and regard, was puzzled because of how much emphasis was placed on the financial aspect of giving. Although there are so many other ways to give, there was a specific purpose as to why so much attention was paid to it.

Reflecting back on my nearly five decades on this planet, the biggest flaw in my ability to give was in letting go of what was perceived as my hard-earned cash. While the reasons for this are better addressed in a future article, it was a struggle each time I was asked to give financially for charitable purposes. Although not growing up poor, I never developed a healthy financial mindset and consequently earning money was a constant struggle. Giving it away would have seemingly complicated the matter more.

I can truthfully say that in my case, this miserly way of thinking furthermore created self-sabotaging behaviors; eventually hindering and thwarting opportunities that would have provided more economic gain. This lack of a fiscally giving spirit fostered a mentality which kept economic prosperity at unattainable distances.

However, when I began making a conscious effort to give more freely financially, inexplicably, my bank account began reflecting larger numbers as well. On the surface, this did not make sense. How does giving away money bring more in? As someone who seeks logical and rational conclusions, ten minus five does not equal fifteen!

No doubt some of you are waving your hand exclaiming, “It’s Biblical”, “Karma”, or “The Law of Attraction”, or some other spiritual promise but please, hear me out. In my case, I don’t want an explanation. This is one of those times where I truly live by faith; knowing that doing my best unfolds what the Universe has in store for me.

Just as there are physical laws such as gravity which govern the physical realm, spiritual laws are no less applicable. While I earnestly believe in the principle of sowing and reaping, using it expressly for a reason to give would seem to negate the meaning of charitable acts. What I want in return for giving is the satisfaction that someone was helped. If the Universe sees fit to offer additional compensation, then I will repay It with gratitude. This sincere appreciation nurtures and promotes my giving spirt and hopefully sets examples for others to follow.

There are countless ways to give and the circumstances surrounding each influence the reasoning behind our actions. I am not advocating one never receives or should always refuse something in return, that must be decided by the individual. However, allowing opportunism or greed to be the major influence is not what promotes a giving spirit. Our world is currently setting far too many bad examples of taking advantage of others while portraying it as an act of giving.

This week, see what examples you can make by giving strictly for the purposes of helping. If you do get something in return, remember to be grateful. I look forward to your comments.

 

 

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The Act of Giving

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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.

The Whole Truth and nothing but!

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“What defines the truth is often not far beyond our own reach.”

Truth is an interesting concept. In last week’s article, (click here to read it) it was noted that history wasn’t always recorded as it truly happened. Ironically, one of America’s most treasured stories about truth telling – that of six-year old George Washington cutting down his father’s cherry tree – was a complete fabrication!

Distinguishing the truth has never been an easy task. It was first debated by the ancient Greek Philosophers and has since been the center of countless disputes. When a conflict between two or more people cannot be resolved, it often gets decided by municipal judges and courts. But even judges’ rulings don’t ultimately reflect the truth as both parties saw it.

So how will we ever know what the truth is? What method produces, without fail, an accurate and absolute result?

While many of you may have already surmised a response, the simple answer to the above question is quite frankly nothing. There is no magic formula, decree, nor book that specifically provides resolutions for a universally accepted outcome of truth. However, there is an explanation which I hope provides insight into what truth is.

The first hurdle to overcome is to understand we are all humans with the ability to process cognitively and emotionally different from everyone else. While it is one of the greatest assets our species enjoys, it consequently guarantees that perceptions will fluctuate. It is why 2 people can witness the same event and come up with completely different scenarios.

There is no profound or poetic way to say it other than: “The truth is basically what every individual believes and accepts to be true”. Each person determines what is true and then must be willing to accept the consequences of those decisions.

For example, one of the most widely discussed areas about truth involves religion. There are an estimated 4,200 religions in the world, many of which claim theirs is the only “truth”. But what makes one religion more truthful over another? It’s not the number of followers nor is it an overwhelming show of strength. If one religion were the truth above all of the rest, it would be accepted unequivocally by everyone. But the truth remains that each person accepts that religion’s teachings to be more truthful than all of the others.

Unfortunately, in our quest for seeking the truth, there is never enough time to research every aspect. That forces us to accept blindly some facts. Astrophysicists who study the age of our planet suggest it is around 4 billion years old. It is up to each person whether or not to accept it. No doubt further research could prove that wrong.

Perhaps, and ironically so, a search for the truth should be accompanied with a bit of skepticism. Questioning what we believe to be true is not wrong or bad. An investigation will tend to either strengthen our beliefs or unveil new points of view causing us to rethink what is the truth and nothing but.

I look forward to your comments.

On Being Open

 

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Photo by Sonja Andersen

“Sometimes the tough lessons learned are not what convention teaches”

History is perhaps one subject that at first glance would seem rigid and unchangeable. It’s quite reasonable to assume that once something “happens”, it cannot be undone. However, discoveries by those seeking the truth are continuously uncovering or even scientifically proving that certain events occurred differently. With the advancement of technology, each year another lost civilization is being unearthed or a pre-Homo Sapiens species is exhumed.

All of this information, no matter how much proof accompanies it, takes a while to disseminate into common knowledge and even more time to be accepted by the general public. Humans have a tendency that once something is learned, that fact is not easily changed. In some sense, our minds need to be open to change in order to amend what was once considered an irreversible fact.

History, though, does not have a monopoly on this perspective. When it comes to personal philosophies of spirituality, politics, or other private affairs, we hold steadfast to these ideals as a matter of principle. These beliefs have made us who we are and under some conditions, we will even put our own lives at risk defending them.

There are times when those beliefs go through major paradigm shifts and just as it is with historical finds, they often shatter ideas that we once considered immutable. Catch phrases and clever slogans often sound as though their meaning is virtuous and should never be questioned. One such phrase is “Time heals all wounds”, while it has a poetic and prophetic sound, it couldn’t be further from the truth. There is nothing healing about the passage of time. It only makes those wounds appear to be less significant which mimics a semblance of healing.

Sometimes when our beliefs are confronted by opposing or conflicting views, we are challenged by a response of being more tolerant or keeping an open mind. Although I’m a big proponent of this way of thinking, it’s not always possible. For instance, there are some ideals which cannot be tolerated such as injustice, bigotry, or abuse.

Being openminded is important but it also does not mean that because you consider yourself to be so that your way of thinking is absolutely right. Ironically, if you are openminded then the other person’s point of view has to be taken into consideration.

There is, however, one part of us which can remain open and that is being open-hearted. This signifies the true intentions of our being. It transforms all of those ideals which should not be tolerated into justice, equality, and love.

Being open-hearted demonstrates compassion, community building, and humility. It creates a different kind of dialogue with disagreement and doesn’t resort to hateful or hurtful tactics but rather reasons with empathy and kindness. By no means does it indicate weakness but a strength far greater than any anger or resentment could ever reach.

I believe that at birth, we all are open-hearted and it’s our teachings and circumstances that contribute to the prejudices and selfishness which build that proverbial wall within us. It takes practice to remove those bricks and once again learn to be open-hearted. This week, remind yourself to have open-hearted dialogues especially with those who have been a bit insolent in the past. I hope to read about some of those in the comments.

Thanks again to Sonja Andersen for the delightful photograph.