Like being kind or honest, being giving is an illustrious quality most of us aspire to have as a key part of our social makeup. But although we may showcase generosity around holidays, celebratory occasions or even during a severe crisis, the truth is that most of us don't practice giving on a consistent basis...or at least as much as we'd like.
The reasons we don't give regularly are as understandable as they are plentiful. We're all busy – and with our day planner filled to the brim and self-oriented needs taking precedence – it's easy to forget offering something for anyone outside of our immediate circle. Some of us may feel like we don't have anything to give in the first place – whether we're strapped for resources, time or emotional bandwidth. Meanwhile, many of us also feel overwhelmed by giving as a whole: we may be unable to commit to a full Saturday to help at a homeless shelter or feel many of the world's problems are simply “too big” to be affected by one person's meager donation.
While all these reasons are perfectly valid and easy to empathize with, they don't have to be roadblocks...in fact, quite the opposite! That's because the key to giving regularly boils down to a shift in mindset. So, if you're serious about trying to increase your generosity, here's how you can fight even the most powerful internal myths:
“Giving takes a ton of time.” While some people may be able to take a month off work to help build a house for a person in need, there are absolutely no rules that say giving must be so grandiose. In the style of everyday giving, your gift can be as simple as picking up your workmate's favorite coffee drink while you grab your own or making your Sunday potluck dish extra healthy by mixing in some of your favorite superfoods to share – transforming it into something that's delicious and truly healing. What a beautiful contribution!
“Giving costs a lot of money.” The truth is, giving doesn't have to cost you anything! If you have a tree bearing lots of fruit this season, take a basket of fresh-picked edibles over to your friend’s house. If you're sweeping your front sidewalk, sweep your neighbor’s side, too. Donate old clothes you no longer wear to charity or put some old books in a box on the curb to perk up someone's day with a freebie. If you look for things to give, you'll be surprised by how much you actually have.
“Giving takes too much energy.” Despite its name, it's been well documented that giving is actually incredibly rewarding. The act of giving and the idea of selflessly making someone else a little bit happier stimulates dopamine production in the gifter's brain, promoting a greater feeling of well-being and satisfaction. One of the most recommended activities for individuals suffering from depression is to get involved in charity work, but even micro-level giving can have a similar effect. You will likely find that giving gives you more energy, not less.
“Giving doesn't matter.” Feeling like the world's problems are too big to solve is not an excuse for inaction. That's because every positive impression matters. Will your $20 donation to a canine rescue center stop innocent animals from being euthanized? Not immediately, no. But it will ensure one more creature receives the care it needs. Will bringing a friend a healthy snack to help with their weight-loss efforts result in an immediate change? Unlikely. But it may just be the tangible support they need to stick to their journey. You never know how much of a difference even your smallest effort can make, and our actions combined can ripple into something that really can change the world for the better.