I am trying not to flog you with more seasonal advice about the virtues of giving. You know deep in your heart the powerful impact generosity and philanthropy have on YOU. The scientific evidence on this subject is overwhelming.While spending money can be generous, it's usually not the giving that returns true value to the giver. We have all heard, "It's the thought that counts." But really your thought and thoughfulness are the difference.
In my business, we call it "check book philanthropy". Many acts of generosity can be chores fulfilled. Obligations that make us feel less guilty or just less miserable. In the end, they can be another "to-do" that isn't truly enjoyable or meaningful for anyone. "Who do I HAVE to give gifts to?"–a commonly heard query. It is a reality of this season we feel is imposed on us. Wow, doesn't that make us feel warm and fuzzy.
We have to move from the transactional to the transformational. That only happens when you start doing things that you care about. Acts of kindness that emerge from that place become small but powerful drops of meaning that ripple through your soul.
How does your giving of things, time, ideas, and help, include your presence? Your personal interest and attention? This is so hard. It takes great effort. It requires making choices amongst many commitments. It requires focus and intention. In the end, it will make a world of difference to you.
We can be easily deluded into thinking that the holidays is our biggest gift giving season. However, we are giving gifts all year long. Not just at birthdays, weddings, and other holidays. We are generous with our time and attention everyday–consciously or unconsciously. We know that one beautifully wrapped material gift can not replace the time, love, and support we give or did not give during the year.
In the great network of life, we can be a "Santa Claus" of goodwill and distribute gifts of good cheer, support and love to all we encounter. That is the lifestyle of mentoring and networking. If you are to reap the benefits of this season and the rest of the year, then put yourself into every package of time and effort. Wrap every gift of support with your full attention and care. In traditional Japanese culture, the furoshiki, an ornate cloth, is used to wrap gifts with a beautiful knot. Often the cloth outshines the contents. The furoshiki and the knot itself contain the care, respect, and dignity of the act of giving. Your thought and thoughfulness do count!
Woody Allen said, "80% of success is showing up." YOU have to show up. Presents without presence is no gift at all.
Make this merry season of generosity just the beginning of a new commitment to giving with presence.
Thanks for reading. John