A Michigan man and four friends set up camp in freezing temps in front of a Best Buy the week before Black Friday, complete with a generator, heater, and flat screen TV. The retailer happily let them use their restrooms. I wondered, Would they also be cooking a Thanksgiving turkey in their tent?
"Giving Tuesday" is a refreshing concept in response to the culture of "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" which encourage competition to be first in line for the best deals and a buy-buy-buy frenzy. This new day is a reminder to simply give, which after all is the true spirit of the Christmas holiday.
Giving Tuesday has gained momentum nationwide and around the world, with over 10,000 global partners and over 3,300 #GivingTuesday Social Media Ambassadors. The day has also coined the phrase #Unselfie. The idea? Upload a photo of yourself and your giving activity to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #UNselfie and #GivingTuesday so you can join your efforts with others doing the same.
The benefits of giving come right back to you, too. And it doesn't have to be a monetary gift.
Volunteer: A recent study of 100 10th-graders who volunteered weekly to help elementary school students concluded that when adolescents help others they also benefit themselves, "suggesting a novel way to improve health." Turns out, "Those who increased the most in empathy and altruistic behaviors, and who decreased the most in negative mood, also showed the greatest decreases in cardiovascular risk over time."
Thank Someone Who's Changed Your Life: It's no secret that expressing gratitude for others is a gift that actually boosts happiness. When a group of volunteers took a happiness test before and after they'd written and read a letter of appreciation to someone who'd profoundly changed their life and then shared that letter with the person, their happiness index went way up. Watch the effects.
Support a Cause You Care About: Bill and Melinda Gates are well known for their philanthropic efforts and the millions of dollars they've donated to charities. Their reason? They say, "We believe everyone deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life."
Mary Baker Eddy, author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, also believed that everyone deserved health. Readers around the world have found healing through her writings and teaching on the subject of spirituality and health. She herself went from poverty to being one of the wealthiest American women at the time of her passing in 1910. Eddy wrote in her book, "Giving does not impoverish us in the service of our Maker, neither does withholding enrich us." She practiced this wisdom in varied ways, including a project with a local shoe merchant in Concord, New Hampshire, where she donated more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to the town's children.
For Christians the greatest, most selfless gift can be found in this familiar Scriptural passage, also sung by choirs performing Handel's famed Messiah oratorio:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9: 6).
This prophesy of Jesus' birth and the spirit of the Christ that Jesus expressed when he healed and taught, is still producing health and giving freely to hearts and minds today.