If you try to imagine a world without giving, what do you see? A drab landscape where nobody feels anything? A cheerless place where birthdays and weddings are observed with total indifference? However you might imagine it, a world without giving wouldn’t be very nice to live in.
Fortunately, our world is full of giving – from tiny little favours to brand new Maseratis. Indeed, giving is one of the best feelings life has to offer. You already know how powerful and uplifting it feels to give a meaningful gift – and now science is starting to understand it too.
But you also know, from being on both sides of the giving equation, that the power of giving isn’t always commensurate to the material value of the gift. Can you remember a time when someone offered words of support or advice that always stuck with you? Of course you can. In the right context (one of the three situations below, for example), even a small gesture of support can have a lasting impact.
The baby shower is a traditional occasion for showing solidarity and giving gifts. Having a new baby comes with all kinds of material needs, after all – and sometimes you just have to see your friend’s baby in the onesie with the rock band logo on it.
But the daily experience of pregnancy can, of course, be rough. What other kinds of support can make a difference? Prenatal massage is nice. Or how about some art therapy? After the baby arrives, you might consider a gift of logistical support. Household chores are often neglected in those early weeks and months. What if you could call someone reliable and professional to take care of that broken gutter?
We all know what it’s like to be under the weather, and even if you’ve never been diagnosed with something serious, you know a friend or family member who has. As difficult as illness can be, though, it has a way of bringing us together and teaching us how to give meaningfully. A phone call is magical in this situation. Just knowing that someone is thinking of you, and wants to know how you’re doing, can work wonders.
The gift of nourishment is also important during times of illness, and the impulse to deliver food to a friend who’s been ill goes way back into history. But let’s face it: Your cooking isn’t always the best. Or maybe your cooking is the best, but it’s a hectic week, or you’re out of town. If local restaurant options aren’t too healthy, a wholesome and professional meal delivery service might hit the spot.
The experience of grief comes in different forms – the death of loved one, the loss of a pet, or even the end of a relationship. If you’ve been there, you know how difficult and painful it is. A hug can mean the world to a grieving friend or family member. Words of comfort can go an awfully long way.
One of the hallmarks of grief is that we lose the desire or ability to take care of ourselves. Sometimes we don’t feel like eating, or exercising, or doing much of anything at all. The grief itself seems to suck up all our energy. Meditation, massage, and movement therapy can be helpful in these situations. Receiving this kind of help reminds us that we’re not alone, that people care, and that life is still full of beautiful possibilities. Grief is a process with its own timeline, but every little bit helps.
A vibrant, colourful world
Giving is fuel for our own wellbeing, and a social glue that holds the world together. A world without giving is impossible to imagine. Thankfully, we don’t have to. Life frequently presents us with situations where giving has tremendous meaning – but we don’t have to wait for special or difficult occasions. There are countless moments of the day when giving the gift of patience, support, or encouragement is possible. When we recognise these moments, we see how vibrant and full of colour the world can be.