Change the World by Giving of Yourself

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That’s what I consider true generosity: You give your all and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing. ~Simone de Beauvoir

The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.  ~Albert Einstein
 

The holiday shopping frenzy has begun! I am willing to bet that almost all of us have walked out to our mailbox only to find multiple Christmas catalogs and “coupon books,” alerting us of all the newest gadgets and clothes we need to buy this season. Everywhere we go, we are inundated with messages that tell us we need to buy more, more, more. If you ask me, this materialistic mindset takes the joy out of the holidays!

To me, the greatest joy comes from the giving of ourselves—not in the STUFF.

People who live generously—not just with their money, but with their whole person (time, talents, friendship)—deserve special admiration. They’re not motivated by fame, fortune, or scoring the newest iPhone on launch day, but rather by joyful service. Their qualities of generosity, empathy, compassion, and kindness make them inspiring treasures to us all. And although those values tend to get more press during Thanksgiving and Christmas, they are values we should all aspire to live by all year long.

Generosity is a paradox. The culture around us screams materialism and commercialism. Buy. Accumulate. Indulge. However, there is a whole world out there that desperately needs what we (yes, you) have to offer.  It invites us to give, serve, help, and empower. The paradox of generosity is this: the more we give, the more we get! It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s true. We find our life by losing it. We win by putting others first. We gain by giving away. And, our greatest memories are of the gifts we gave rather than the ones we received.

This kind of generosity requires sacrifice—not just financial, but personal. Yes, it can be stretching and uncomfortable. But slowly, we begin to realize there’s more to life than what we own and can hold onto. We don’t take those things with us when our time is up.

Have you ever wanted to change the world?  This is where it starts. In fact, how you eventually impact the world will be driven not merely by what you have to offer but what you choose to offer. It’s the ultimate generosity test, isn’t it?

What do you uniquely have to offer the world? There are many different avenues that can allow you to allocate your personal resources to serve others. As you reflect on how you can live generously this Thanksgiving week, consider these three questions:

  • What talents, skills, and resources do I have to offer?
  • What groups or community segments (e.g., youth, elderly, homeless) do I feel most called to help?
  • What organizations will allow me to use my time, talents, and treasure to help those I feel most passionately about?

Could your answers to these questions be a New Year’s resolution in the making?

What would happen in our communities if we all cultivated and demonstrated this heart of generosity and “other-centeredness” as a way of life, embodying the qualities of generosity and compassion in our everyday dealings with people? I think the world would be a more welcoming and empathetic place!

With that in mind, here are some ideas for living generously this holiday season—and throughout the year:

  • Make a donation to an organization serving people and causes you are passionate about
  • Look for ways to be creatively generous if you are on a limited budget.  How can you give time? Attention? Acts of service? Material possessions?
  • Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter in your city.
  • Visit a nursing home or hospital. Listen to their stories, or tell some of your own. Just sit with them if that’s what brings comfort.
  • Allow yourself to be interrupted without being irritated—this is a mark of a generous spirit. (Or, put down your mobile device and give the people around you your undivided attention.)
  • Make yourself available to people or organizations, free of charge, for consulting on a topic on which you have expertise.

This short list of ideas just scratches the surface—you may even come up with better ones! The bottom line is this: Living generously will bring help and hope to others and immense joy to you in return. You’ll receive far more than what you give. Nothing compares with using all of you to serve and improve the world around you. This is the true spirit of the holiday season!

 

Time Is Precious – Use It Wisely

Where did 2012 go?  It seems like last New Year’s Eve was just last week, not last year! Life is flying by at 58!
 
Time is a funny thing, isn’t it? When we’re having a blast, it’s like someone is pushing the “fast forward” button. In contrast, if we have a two-point lead with three minutes left in the game, it seems like an eternity.
 
Whether time flies or moves at glacial speed, we have 24 hours in a day and no choice in the matter. We use it or lose it. And, because time is one of our most prized possessions (recall it’s one of our three primary assets—along with talent and treasure), we need to use it wisely.
 
How do you become a good manager of time? Try the following:
 

  • Treat your time as a precious asset with limited capacity
  • Organize a to-do list by urgency (deadline) and priority (importance). Take both into account when deciding what to focus on each day.
  •  “Block” your time (i.e., group it in 30-60 minute intervals without interruption) in order to complete your highest priority assignments. Avoid interspersing lower priority tasks within your high priority assignment intervals. Take control of your time!
  • Don’t hesitate to politely tell someone that it’s an inconvenient time for you. Interruptions can destroy your productivity if you allow it.
  • Learn to multi-task (i.e. simultaneously performing) your lower priority responsibilities. For example, I rarely watch television without doing something else like reading the newspaper.
  • Keep your cell phone somewhere else when you need focused time. The temptation to answer calls and texts is a major distraction.
  • Find your best venue for focused work.
  • Take periodic breaks. Studies show we’re less productive when we work over an hour straight without a five-minute break. Breaks help our mind recharge.
  • Respect and honor the time of others by being punctual.
  • Always remember that you can’t recover the time you waste!

 
Becoming a wise time manager is an admirable New Year’s Resolution. Is it yours?
 
How productive are you with your time? Do you view it as a precious asset and focus on your most important priorities? What are some ways you have learned to become a more effective time manager? Share your thoughts and ideas with us!