Forgive me that I surmise most people are selfish most of the time. After all, who is really 100% giving without having a hidden agenda. This agenda might even be hidden from themselves. Athony De Mello’s book Awareness drives this point home well throughout the classic.
Saying that, are there ways to becoming a more giving person? Yes, and similar to most worthy endeavors, it takes discipline and practice. Can we change our hearts? Well, we can change our actions, which can lead to a change of heart. Lets discuss five ways we can improve this department of our lives.
1. Wake up and remind yourself of a purpose. Do you know a purpose in life? What about helping others somehow? What if you could leave this Earth knowing that you were supportive and giving towards family, friends, and others? I have to check-in during the morning through prayer or meditation to remind myself why I’m alive. I ask God to help me direct my thoughts and actions towards helping others. Since I believe in an all-loving God, never punishing, I can rest in the faith I am being assisted in my desire to do the right thing throughout today.
2. You don’t have to always give BIG stuff. You can practice giving little things. By the way, what may seem little in the moment can have a lasting, transformative effect on someone. If you pay someone a compliment, such as, “I appreciate how you are supportive of me”, that person may never forget that compliment and it may allow him or her to open their hearts and support others in their life. This is the rippling effect of our spiritual universe. There is always more than meets the eye.
3. Make tithing a part of your life. Tithing, or charitable giving, is a philosophy adhered to for thousands of years by different religions and spiritual aspirants. You might be amazed what happens to your financial life when you start regularly giving a certain percentage of your income to others. People swear they have become more abundant financially by initiating this process of giving. After all, money is just another form of energy. If you give it in a loving way, the universe pays you back in spades. The Universe, or God, is a process of love.
4. Give more in the work place. How much do you give at your job? You can examine or even ask your supervisor what tasks you perform that are most important. Maybe you can start giving more in the areas that are really important to your organization. Again, you will initiate a loving response in the form of more self-confidence and probably promotions.
5. Pay attention to people around you. Instead of getting absorbed in your phone or computer when you’re in a crowd, why not pay attention to your fellow human beings and see if anyone is hurting? Is there a way you can start a conversation with someone who looks depressed? Can you pay them a compliment? You may be the bright spot of their day and you’ll be filled with gratitude once you realize you are helping someone. It’s amazing how little we pay attention to others around us. Always try to remember that EVERYONE wants to be loved. It is universal. Knowing this, figure out a way to love or become giving towards someone today.
These are five tips that can help get the process initiated towards a more giving experience. Everyone benefits in a more giving world, but unfortunately we are often consumed by our own fears and we succumb to selfish behaviors. Just remember, you are not alone. Everyone struggles with selfishness at times and this is why it takes practice to enact steps such as these on a consistent basis.
In addition, even if we don’t feel totally giving in our hearts, we can still take the action of giving and our heart will eventually come around. Sometimes action, not thought, must come before we can authentically change on a lasting basis. It is important to consider a morning routine such as prayer or meditation before we start the day because we often wake up grouchy or selfish by default. This morning sanctuary of space allows us to calibrate towards a benevolent intention.