19 Nov Master the art of giving before receiving
When was the last time you gave something to someone without an exchange or the expectation of receiving something in return?
In the last blog, we looked at the role of judgement. The process of judging yourself or those around you – friends, family, acquaintances or strangers.
This week, I want to add to this thought process in an odd but somewhat amazing way by challenging you to a game of giving. More on this later, but should you choose to take part, I guarantee you will feel pretty incredible with the outcome in what you see and hear.
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank
Be kind to others
When you have the ability to think outside of yourself and show people that you care by spending time with them, offering a complimentary comment or giving a gift that they will appreciate, you are impacting their life in a positive way. And that helps you to feel great too.
Obvious times of giving are at Christmas, for a birthday, reaching a milestone or celebrating a special occasion. But times of giving can also be for no reason at all other than to offer a small act of kindness. And they are often the most memorable and appreciated.
“Life is a boomerang. What you give, you get.” Anonymous.
Appreciate everything in life
As Christmas is approaching (quite rapidly) it’s easy to get caught up with festivities, shopping, parties, games, outings.
Young readers, teenagers and even those young at heart – how many of you are expecting something this Christmas? If you are fortunate enough to receive gifts like gaming platforms, electronics, computer or tech accessories, perfumes or jewellery, then understand that they don’t come cheap. Christmas and birthdays can be a really tough time for parents and carers.
Some families really struggle to afford big ticket gift items but they find others ways to share joy and happiness by being together and seeing the generosity in time, support and making an effort to be present with each other when it matters.
You might be quick to judge people if their actions do not align with your own standards, beliefs and attitudes. Instead of judging people that you have no idea about or how they came to be, where they are, or do what they do, be kind and treat them like fellow human being.
Appreciate everything you are given and learn to value even the smallest of gifts and gestures of kindness.
“Life’s persistent and most urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Martin Luther King Jr
Give before you get
With this in mind, I want to challenge you to step up and think differently by playing a game of giving – ‘give before you get’.
I will share some creative ideas with you below and your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to pick a few things that you are able to do easily.
As you read through the suggestions, think about this question, ‘With everything that I am so fortunate to have, what can I give to someone, maybe that I don’t even know, and in that giving I know that I will have made a difference big or small to their life?’
All you need to do is commit to mastering the art of giving before receiving by taking action and doing three or four of the ideas within the next 24 hours or five days at an absolute maximum.
Before you choose your acts of giving, make sure that they are doable. Ensuring that you are able to carry something out will make it realistic and achievable. Anything less and you will be setting yourself up to fail, which isn’t good for anyone.
A note of caution too – depending on how old you are, you might need to ask for help from your parents, big sister, older brother, teacher or friends. Parents, if you’re reading this article, then thank you, this is a great gift to give your children and help them to understand what it feels like to give first.
As the festive period is looming many suggestions are linked to Christmas, but they really can apply to any time throughout the year.
The giving before receiving exercise
- Buy extra Christmas cards to write and post through the letterbox of the neighbours you don’t know well – this will be gratefully received by elderly neighbours.
- Take your time to make a card to add an extra personal touch – have fun with coloured pens, markers, glue, glitter and stickers.
- Deliver best wishes cards to local sheltered accommodation, care homes and charities.
- When you go shopping (on your own or with your family) buy an extra item. Something that is non-perishable such as tinned veggies, a cup-a-soup, an extra selection box, or roll of wrapping paper and donate it to your local foodbank. Pop it into the dedicated trolley in the supermarket, or drop it in to a local homeless centre, women’s refuge, or children’s charity.
- Go through your wardrobe and drawers and pull out everything that you’ve not worn for two years. If you’re a youngster who’s still growing, look out the clothes that don’t fit you anymore. Wash and dry the items to make them fresh and put them to one side to deliver to a local charity shop or clothes bank.
- Gather together winter clothes that are old, or you just don’t like anymore such as jumpers, scarves, thermal layers, woolly socks and mittens and take a ride to the city centre. Children must go with adults, and adults go as a group to find the people who are living on the streets – give them something warm to wear. It’s no joke being out in the cold, so please do not judge these people. I know we are all guilty at times but really, we have no clue about the circumstances that led them to living out in the open. Be compassionate and see them as a fellow human being in need of a little kindness. It must be scary, cold and lonely to find yourself in this position, but it doesn’t make them a bad person. Many homeless people are ex-military, veterans, have come out of care and lost their way or have simply made bad decisions in life.
- Pull out books, games and toys. Some may be old but others might be unread or unplayed. How much stuff have you got that is still sealed or in the box untouched? Donate them to a local cause, a charity that helps families living in poverty, supermarket collections or council campaigns.
- Think about the people around you. Do you have friends or family members that you have fallen out with in the past? Maybe you gossiped about them, had an argument or got caught up in bullying or a fight. Maybe a gift to them could be an apology or the gift of a renewed friendship.
- Write on a series of post-it notes and hand them out to friends, family members or even a stranger.
- Buy a homeless person a cuppa or a sandwich, a bottle of water or a meal deal. You don’t have to hang around, just give it to them and move on and be happy in knowing that you’ve made someone’s day.
- Open the door for someone.
- Let someone go in front of you in the supermarket queue.
- Make an unexpected phone call or send a positive text message.
- Give your mum or dad, grandparents, siblings or friends a big hug – honestly it feels great.
- Buy a pack of balloons, blow them up, write messages and draw pictures on them and take them to a local nursery – children love playing with balloons.
- Do your chores with a smile on your face without being asked or nagged to do so.
- And do some extra chores – your parents will be shocked and delighted!
This list is by no means exhaustive and you may have more ideas of your own. The important thing to remember is to choose what works for you. Choose what is doable and what you feel comfortable with.
Remember, pushing yourself a little out of your comfort zone will make such acts easier and help you to gain more confidence.
“Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present.” Albert Camus
Pay it forward
These small and random acts of kindness may seem insignificant to you, but they could be something that changes another person’s day for the better.
I’ve talked about Christmas in this blog and there’s plenty of time to get planning before the festivities really start, but you can spread positivity at any time throughout the year and in so many different ways.
Once you’ve tried it a couple of times, felt the thrill and seen the joy they create, you might even get addicted to making a positive difference.
Share small acts of kindness around your local community and watch it ripple. See them bring a smile to people’s faces and bring some brightness into the darker nights and colder days this winter.
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” John Holmes
Choose the life you want to lead
Please add your experiences, stories, smiles and ideas with a comment on the blog post. What response did you get from someone who received a gift from you? Please do share your thoughts with everyone by connecting to the Back on Track Teens social media channels.
Make this week incredible, light up the world around you with your bright spark by giving before receiving.