Do you know the right way to give?

Courtesy of FreeDigital Photos/ohmmy3d
Courtesy of FreeDigital Photos/ohmmy3d

Thanks for giving. They’re the words you’d like to read on a thank you card or what you’d like to hear after sending something to a special person. Unfortunately, they’re words that aren’t uttered nearly enough. It may be because the recipient got so busy that it slipped his or her mind, or maybe it’s because the recipient thought the gratitude was obvious. Regardless of the reason, it doesn’t stop you from feeling miffed, unappreciated, hurt and completely ignored. You may even convince yourself that it would be foolish to give that person a gift ever again. But I’m here to tell you that if you ever felt that way, you probably don’t know how to give the right way.

I know, because I’ve been there. I’ve been on the ignored side of gift giving in the past and made a silent promise to myself to never give to that specific person again. After all, how could my attempt at bringing a smile to the recipients face and make their life a little better go unnoticed?

“It takes a special person to spend their hard earned money on something to make your day a little brighter. I didn’t have to go out of my way to give you something but I did and you should be thankful for that. How dare you not send me a thank you card or at least pick up the phone to show me some gratitude!”

Those were the thoughts that would run through my head when I recognized the lack of a thank you after an extremely “selfless” act. However, it wasn’t until discussing with an older and wiser relative (we’ll call him the real life version of Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World) that I realized I was giving the wrong way.

You see, my Mr. Feeny made me realize that I didn’t know the right way to give because I was making it all about me. (Reread the thoughts I once had in regards to gift giving. Notice how every sentence in that quote is focused on “me” or “I”?) If I had given gifts the right way, I would have noticed that gift giving is about the other person and not me. Once I made it about me, it was no longer a true gift, but an obligation I put on myself.

A true gift is given without the expectation of anything in return – that includes a thank you. I want you to think about your motives for giving people gifts in the past. If you are giving gifts to receive praise for your “selflessness”, you are giving for the wrong reasons. However, if you are giving a gift from the depths of your heart in the hopes that it will make someone’s day a little brighter and life a little easier, than you are giving for the right reasons. Receiving a thank you note and recognition won’t change that at all. Had I recognized that before, I would have saved myself from being upset and holding an unnecessary grudge. Plus, I would have been much happier.

As we charge full speed ahead into the holiday season, I hope you reflect on the reasons why you are a giving. Giving from your heart will always be much better for everyone involved than giving with selfish thoughts. Whether or not, you get anything in return you can now spare yourself hard feelings by knowing that your act was done from a good place even if little appreciation is shown. If everyone did that, the world would be a far better place.

In honor of Giving Tuesday, I challenge you to put your new knowledge of gift giving to use by donating to a good cause or non-profit organization  such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, or Lustig Dance Theater. (If you’re feeling really genourous you can think about giving to my “Help me pay back my student loans fund”…. Just kidding!) You may not get a thank you from the person your donation will directly help, but your heart will smile knowing that you made someone’s day just a little brighter.

What are your reasons for giving this holiday season and other occasions? Do you get upset when you don’t receive a thank you?

TERRIfic Quip: Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.

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