THE BLOG
05/24/2013 04:59 pm ET Updated Jul 24, 2013

The Joy in Life Is in Giving

I'm naturally a giver. But I don't take credit for it. It's not something I had to work at, it came naturally. It was imparted to me -- my legacy from my parents. I was pre-programmed to attend to the needs of others and do what I can to make them feel as good as possible. It's why I am so good at being a shrink. I hone right in, and coupled with generosity, it's magic. My gift.

But for many people, this isn't the case, to no fault of their own. They have a hard time plugging in, or being generous with their time or money. They too had parents and have been pre-programmed. They haven't yet experienced that life is about helping others, and it enhances your own life.

The goal is to shift from the "what can I get" perspective to "what can I give." This change opens up your life in ways that are unimaginable.

I am writing about this because even though I inherited this giving behavior and have been doing it in some way, shape or form my whole life, today I experienced one of the most profound moments I have ever had.

As per my normal routine, I was on my way to the bank to make my Sunday deposit.

And there was an elderly homeless man who was standing by the subway stairs with a walker. I have seen him before but I had never interacted with him. And this time we caught eyes and he asked me for some money. As an aside, the reason I didn't give it to him right there and then was because I have purchased a new backpack that I can wear on my back with no fear of anyone stealing my wallet -- it's like Fort Knox to get in there. The problem is, I can't get in either!

But I said to him, I am headed to the bank, and will then have money -- I will be back.

The bank took a bit longer than usual, and as promised I went back to give this guy money.

He wasn't in his spot, and then I spotted him up ahead -- he was leaving. And I actually called after him and caught up to him.

And he looked at me and a big smile came onto his face. He said, "I didn't think you were coming back. I can't believe you came back." And I assured him that I would never say something I didn't mean.

Now, maybe this moment didn't restore his entire faith in the human race or give him a sense of trust in people, but maybe it started the process for him. Or maybe I just made someone happy for the moment. But all I know is it was meaningful and powerful. It was a moment of hope and inspiration, I think, for us both.

The lesson for me, and I hope for anyone reading this, is: Pay it forward. Spend your day looking to see how you can be giving and kind to anyone who enters your path. You never know how your actions, even small ones, can make such difference in someone's life -- and in turn, your own.

For more by Dr. Debbie Magids, click here.

For more on wisdom, click here.

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