The season of giving is upon us. And we are giving a lot: giving our time, our attention, our cheer, our love, giving thanks, giving of material goods, and other gifts. There is a whole lot of giving going on.
This time of year can be exhausting for many of us. And not even related to the giving of ourselves, our time, our attention and our money. Yet, the true nature, or intention, behind our giving can have a lot to do with our energy levels.
What do I mean by that?
Well, when we are giving from a place of lack or shortage then gifting feels like a sacrifice. When this is the nature of our giving, it means giving is really ‘giving up’. Giving up something that leaves on feeling deprived or disadvantaged. As I talk to others this holiday season, I am somewhat surprised to know how many commingle this sense of sacrifice with the fundamental nature of giving. To this person, giving is a virtue because of the associated sense of sacrifice. From here, if it is painful, then one should give since the virtue is in acceptance of the sacrifice. In this subset, to give is better than to receive really means its better to suffer deprivation than to experience joy.
The fundamental nature of giving can be one of love. Pure and simple. Not flashy or outrageous. Just a simple, unadulterated gesture of genuine care that is rooted in connection, compassion and love. When this nature of giving is adopted it nourishes and fortifies the giver and the receiver equally. In such a scenario, giving from this place allows one to experience their own strength, prosperity, and generosity. This experience is one of heightened vitality and potency, filling one with joy and good cheer. The giver can thus experiences themselves as overflowing, abundant, generous, alive, and thus truly joyous. For this giver, giving is more joyous than receiving, not because of the virtuosity of deprivation, but because the nature of giving elicits an expression of vitality. A feeling of being truly alive and well.
How can we know our true nature of giving?
Ask yourself, “What is my motivation for giving this gift?”, or “How does the idea of giving this gift make me feel?”
The answer is pointing to your true motivation and nature of giving, as long as you answered it truthfully. If it seems that you haven’t yet uncovered the nature of giving you could dig a little deeper with questions that get right to the ego nature of gifting, that of a desire to appear successful or the need to appear pious in sacrifice. To explore this, try questions like: “does this gift represent my desire to appear successful?”, or “does this act of gifting mean I’m virtuous in that I am willing to sacrifice and suffer for the benefit of others?” In either circumstance, these are distorted conditions and will pollute the essence of giving and thus will ultimately leave you feeling depleted and defeated in some way.
To flip the script and transform the gift giving mindset so it truly nourishes and energizes you, try entertaining this line of questioning: “Could my giving be to share joy and see joy in others and myself?”, “Can my act of giving aim to benefit others while honoring myself and my immediate resources?”, “Can my giving come from a place of abundance, joy, prosperity and goodwill with the intention of simply sharing this with those I care for and love?” If you can align with these intentions and let them be your motivation this holiday season then your giving will inevitably energize and inspire you. Your giving will be aligned with pure generosity of spirit and you will feel it as examples of empowerment and fulfillment.
We get so caught up in the gifting of things, that so many of us so often overlook that our greatest gift of all: it is our full attention and presence. And this is what our loved ones are really craving and in need of receiving. Likewise, our Presence is a gift we too are craving and worthy of, as we demonstrate it we inspire those around us to do the same. When we lead and give with the fullness of our Presence then every gift carries within it a sacred quality, beckoning forth a deeper felt sense of connection, fellowship and love.
So take a moment to look at your intentions and motivation tied into this giving this season. A simple change of perspective can shift us from a season of disappointment and depletion to one of energy, enthusiasm and great joy.
by Work Exchanger, Tami Berry, MD
Tami is a Wellbeing Advocate, Speaker, Certified Meditation Instructor, General Surgeon, and Health Care Thought Leader