Holiday giving

It’s up to us whether we enjoy the holidays or find them a burden. One important thing we can do is to appreciate the joy of giving as an act of letting go and not see giving as (only) a duty.

This is from an interview with author Anne Patchett, originally published by The Telegraph, London:

I asked her [Patchett] what she likes to spend money on. “Oh dear, I don’t like how this is going to sound, but the thing I really enjoy is giving money away,” she says. “There isn’t anything I want for myself, but I just bought a house for Sister Nena [a Catholic nun whom Ms. Patchett knows]. That was really great. Buy a house for a nun and your whole life feels like it’s worthwhile.”

Breathtaking, no? Most of us can’t imagine having enough spare money to buy a house for anyone, but the world view that allows this to happen is available to all of us. When do we have enough? What do we really need? What can we give (and to whom) that would make us feel our whole life is worthwhile?

If we have little money, we can give time. Time and attention are always in short supply, and everyone loves to be listened to. For example, visiting people who are lonely or frightened can really reduce suffering. Apologizing and asking forgiveness, if sincere, is a powerful gift. Writing letters of appreciation to people who have meant a lot in our life can produce sublime states of happiness in both receiver and giver. Intentionally finding ways to give time and heart-space where it will support a beneficial purpose is a powerful way of giving freely.

Before we spend a big amount (whatever “big” means) on ourselves, we can consider whether this is the best use of our funds. We can think about giving an equivalent amount to an organization or individual who would put such a sum to good use.

Can you think of a way of giving something you have (time, money, attention, skills) in a way that will make you feel wonderful?

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Filed under General, Generosity

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