Giving is easy, but doing so with sensitivity and care is an art. When we give, it’s important to be generous in our giving. At first, this sounds pretty obvious -- we may even think of the two words as being synonymous with each other. But they are actually quite different. In this context, generosity has nothing to do with what we give, or how much we give.
Instead, it’s the spirit in which we give, our intention, motivation and attitude of mind. It’s the kind of giving that makes us smile, filling us with a sense of joy. It’s the kind of giving that opens the mind, allowing us to let go of all of our own personal worries or concerns.
There are three types of giving. There’s the giving that we do to feel good about ourselves, the giving we do because we expect something in return, and then the type of giving which comes from a place of un-obscured kindness. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the latter of the three is not very common. That doesn’t make us all bad people and of course it’s much better to give than not to give at all, no matter what the motivation is. But it does give cause for reflection. When we give, is it from a place of pride, insecurity, anxiety, desire...or is it from the place of quiet confidence, of unadulterated kindness which, just like the blue sky, is ever-present, unchanging, and limitless in nature?
Giving is such a simple thing, and yet it’s so easy to get it wrong - and I’m not just talking about handing out the obligatory socks or bubble bath at Christmas time. When we give we need to be caring, to be sensitive to who we are giving it to. If it’s a gift of some kind, then we need to consider what will genuinely make the other person happy, what will make them smile, both inside and out. If it’s our time that we’re giving, then we need to be honest as to just how much, or how little, is actually wanted. And if it’s our company we’re giving, then we need to be sensitive with how much time we spend listening, and how much time we spend talking. Giving is easy, but doing so with sensitivity and care is an art.
One would think that giving is something nice to do...something to celebrate, something to enjoy, something to embrace...and yet, very often there is a great deal of discomfort and even embarrassment around giving. But why? Is it that we’re worried what the other person will think of us, whether they will approve of the gift, sentiment or words? Is it that we’re expecting a certain result and are therefore fearful that we might not receive it? Or is it that we somehow feel so unworthy or insecure that we project that onto the process of giving? Whatever the reason, next time, be bold with your giving...give with every bit of your being, regardless of expectations and fear, and see how it leaves you feeling.
The way in which we give often reflects the way in which we receive. So, learning to ‘give well’ is at the same time learning how to ‘receive well’. The two are not separate, they are two sides of the same coin. Because the essence of both is one in the same thing, each is reflected in the other. So it’s important to notice how present we are when someone gives to us. Do we crack a joke, shrug it off, hype it up, or play it down. So much neurosis, so little time! Next time, stay with it, no matter what discomfort arises when someone gives to you, stay with it, be present, appreciate the moment for everything it is...for in that simple act of receiving wholeheartedly, we learn what it means to give.