12/02/2014 10:32 am ET Updated Feb 01, 2015

A Modest Proposal for 'Giving Tuesday'

Here's a little twist as we celebrate this emerging annual tradition of Giving Tuesday. Instead of using the day to make actual charitable gifts, might we use the day to just take a pause and reconsider the meaning of giving in our lives? How do we want to make a difference in our world? What causes truly wrap around our hearts? Is it the giving of money and material goods that is what holds the most meaning for us, or might we think about our time and caring and caretaking as well?

My experience is that when we get intimately in touch with our own innate generosity, we find ourselves standing in an entirely new place with a new orientation to giving. We become outer- directed in often startling new ways. We make different choices. We hold relationships differently. Giving in a wide variety of ways becomes a daily priority for us.

All too often December is the month in which we simply shuffle through the stack of gift envelopes from charities that mount up on our desks. We give to those where we know someone, those whose plea is the most poignant and compelling, those to whom we are in the habit of giving. We may feel beholden to certain organizations by relationships with board members or staff. We might feel that our social standing in the community depends on our support of certain organizations. We might enjoy being held in high esteem because of our generous giving. Or it may be easier to simply write the same checks we are used to writing instead of pausing to reflect on the meaning of our giving.

Even a cursory look at our checkbooks can yield startling insights into where our true values lie. Are those the values we want to continue to support or is there a new way that we want to consider how we infuse our lives with generosity?

I am certainly not urging people not to give on Giving Tuesday. It is wonderful that we have set aside a day on the calendar to focus on the role of generosity. My modest proposal is that mindful reflection on the place of generosity in our lives and the ways in which we see our precious resources having the greatest impact might well be a laudable goal for the day. In this way, every day that follows becomes a more enlightened "giving" day.