We are in the thick of the American holidays and for most this season can be hectic both physically and emotionally. The season asks us to give and receive, as well as host and visit others possibly more than we do the rest of the year altogether. For many that can be hard. Sometimes we have competing values at play. We want to be both generous and economically wise. We want to make sure our friends and family know how much we love and appreciate them, and we want to make sure we don’t compromise our own values.
Whether it is our time, such as a meal delivery, watching someone’s children, helping someone with a chore, or a material gift that costs us money, we want it to come from a pure place. Only then can we enjoy giving it. When we give too little we feel selfish and often unable to enjoy what we keep for ourselves. When we give too much, we feel a loss and are unable to enjoy the act of giving.
How to know how much to give? It sounds simple yet I know many, including myself who agonize over giving and receiving. I hear from clients and friends stories of feeling depleted after they have given what feels like too much. Half the time when we are “over-giving,” the receivers don’t even realize it and would be just as understanding if we gave only what we were comfortable with, even if that meant giving less.
So how to find the balance? How can we know when we are giving from a pure place? Signs your gift is “pure”:
- You expect nothing in return.
- You are not emotionally tied to how or when the gift is used.
- You are giving because you know that making that specific offer will bring you happiness.
- You are emotionally energized by the act, rather than emotionally depleted.
This month my husband and I and our two small children moved into a new house. We were on the receiving end of so many gifts from our family and friends. They gave us their time, resources, and energy. While some of what we received required great amounts of physical energy (tons home repairs, food, moving, extra childcare, packing, ect…) each one gave their offering so energetically! We could feel they were giving with their heart and it made receiving the huge amounts of generosity a true joy for us. In fact the way things are given are usually just as important as what is given. I learned that I wanted to practice giving in this pure and energetic way.