Ten Wonderful Things To Give Away

A close-up photo of a red bow, titled "Red Bow."

Photo by Hey Paul

As I progress through life, I find myself searching for more ways to make each moment of every day count. I am not alone in concluding that one way to do that is to give to others.
When some folks think of giving, transferring money is the first thing that comes to mind. In reality, however, many ways of giving exist that require no money at all. For those with extra funds as well as those of us with limited resources, here are some excellent things to give:

Gift #1. Time

A photo of an hourglass, titled "Hourglass 4," by Erik Fitzpatrick.

Photo by Erik Fitzpartick

Many of us are too busy keeping our own ships afloat to donate our time every day, but such giving can take place frequently, perhaps on a weekly basis. Of course, parents constantly shovel time at their children, but once the kids are grown, spending time on others, directly or through participation in philanthropic organizations, can bring marvelous dividends.

Gift #2. An ear

Most people like to talk about themselves, but few are willing to patiently listen to others. Listening fulfills the listener in surprising ways. Learn more about how to develop listening skills by reading Conversation – Ten Tips For Improving Your Conversation Skills.

Gift #3. A smile

Smiles magically connect you with other people, partly because you can give them to anyone and you can do so from a distance. If you’ve had a rift with someone, a smile can be an important part of the making-up process. Smiling is easier than initiating a conversation, and if the other person returns the gesture, all can be well in no time. Smiles are bidirectional, projecting toward those who receive them and inward toward the givers’ souls as well.

Gift #4. A hug

A photo of a young lady smiling and holding a sign that says "Free Hugs."

Photo by Jesslee Cuizon

The practice of hugging is more prevalent in the United States now than it was a few decades ago. Even if you don’t feel the freedom to give a bear hug, a friendly pat on the back will bring you closer to the other person.

Gift #5. Knowledge

No one can do everything, so inevitably we must trade the goods we manufacture and the services we offer for things we need. Such exchanges underlie our entire way of life. On a personal level, however, we cannot always expect such perfect tit-for-tat relationships. Outside of the working world, if we give our knowledge freely to others, the universe pays us back aplenty. Truly heartfelt giving does not include an anticipation of reward, return, or reciprocation. For the gift to bless the giver, it must be released freely and without expectation of recompense.

Gift #6. Wisdom

A photo of a Great Horned Owl sitting in a barn window as a symbol of wisdom.

Photo by Temari 09

As we grow older, experience provides us with knowledge and wisdom that we can and should impart to others. The balance is delicate, though, because imposing values on other people is a put-off and can be counterproductive. Listening is crucial to the delivery of wisdom, for wise counsel must be tailored to the situations of the individuals who receive it.

Gift #7. The right thing at the right time

Prudence pays off in many ways. When people prepare effectively to give their loved ones the right things at the right times, all is well. Planning is part and parcel of the responsibility of having a family. Parents’ implied contract with their children from birth is that they will do their best to provide the necessary things when they are needed.

A healthful young life includes the timely receipt of a bicycle, a summer camp, a summer class, an education, and more. The tangible things need not be new nor the programs the best ones. Life circumstances may make some things difficult or impossible to obtain, but the important thing is to do one’s best to provide the necessities that allow the child to grow and develop normally. The ability to effect such giving demonstrates that the parents have prepared to fulfill their obligation.

If you are unable to provide all of the things on an ideal list, you may still earn an “A” for effort. Children often learn as much from what they are not allowed to do as from what they actually do.

Gift #8. Hope

A photo of a young woman in a black dress releasing a dove, titled "Fly My Friend."

Photo by Jody McNary

Little is more important in life than possessing hope. We all need to feel that we are headed in directions that make sense and further us. Hope is the most important intangible thing you can give to another person. Giving hope is tricky, because the recipient must be of a frame of mind to receive it, but talking positively to everyone around you will project hope at times when you are unaware of it. You can be a constant beacon of hope to those near you, and you can share your life with those around you in many intangible ways.

Gift #9. Money

A gift of money can do wonders for the recipient and the giver. When someone in your neighborhood asks you to donate to a cause, your money contribution, even if it’s not large, will make you feel closer to your community. Helping a friend or relative cover school expenses and offering financial assistance when someone’s luck has run out are also noble acts.

Paying someone to do real work is an honorable gesture. Although a do-it-yourself attitude is commendable, allowing someone else to do the task and paying for it are excellent as well. Hiring people who charge reasonable fees for doing honest work is a hallowed act.

Gift #10. Something you have that the other person doesn’t

We all have strengths and weaknesses, things we know and things we don’t, moments when we are well and moments when we are ill. Giving to others is a sanctified enterprise. When a friend is ill, for instance, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, cooking, and delivering food are excellent ways of giving.

You can get creative with this one. For instance, if you have children and you know some older people who are lonely, taking your children to see them from time to time can provide wonderful therapy for the people and excellent training for your kids. Also, if a friend has lost a mother or father, and you have a parent who is willing, sharing your relationship is no threat to you and can do great good.

Once I was driving on a freeway near Washington, D.C., when my car ran out of gas. This was before the days of cellular telephones, so I took a gas can out of the trunk and hitched a ride to the nearest filling station. An African-American gentleman picked me up, and when we got to the gas station, he kindly waited as I purchased fuel and then drove me back to my car. When we arrived, I offered to pay him for his time, but he politely refused and added that all he wanted was my assurance that I would, in turn, help someone in need. We parted with a handshake, and I’ve never forgotten his words. I can think of no better example of giving and no better philosophy to accompany it.


18 comments… add one

  • Daniel Hickey December 31, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Amigo Douglas,
    Muito boms conselhos para serem relembrados!
    Obrigado e Feliz 2012!

    Reply edit
  • Doug Eikermann December 31, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    Estou com saudades também de voce, amigo. Que passes um 2012 maravilhoso com a tua nova esposa! Um abracao!

    Reply edit
  • Ann December 31, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks for the article bringing in this new year with HOPE at the forefront and many beautiful ways to share our blessed lives with others. As you have noted, as we give, we continue to see blessings overflow in our lives.
    You are a rich and amazing blessing to me and many others. Thanks, brother!

    Happiness and Hope in 2012 and always,

    Reply edit
  • Doug Eikermann December 31, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Thanks for supporting me in all that I do. I can always count on you. Love, Doug.

    Reply edit
  • Adel December 31, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Brilliant, Doug. Happy new year and the very best to you and your beloved ones for 2012.

    Reply edit
  • Doug Eikermann December 31, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    It’s great to hear from you, Adel!! Happy New Year to you, as well, and the best for you and your family in 2012!

    Reply edit
  • Luciana Pereira January 2, 2012 at 10:43 am

    Muito bom, Douglas!
    Obrigada por sempre nos suprir com boas materias!
    Feliz 2012, e que Deus continue te abencoando,

    Reply edit
  • Doug Eikermann January 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Oi, Luciana! Muito obrigado por ler o ensaio e por fazer o teu comentario. Feliz 2012 para voces também e um abracao para toda a familia.

    Reply edit
  • Kim January 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm


    Loved this article. Often we forget how much giving the small gifts we have away. We can help others and help ourselves feel better at the same time! What could be better!

    Reply edit
  • Doug Eikermann January 2, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Thanks for reading the article and for your comment, Kim! Happy New Year, and have a great trip!

    Reply edit
  • Mark January 5, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I loved this post Doug!

    These are great tips to lead an extraordinary life.

    Thanks for sharing ; )
    Mark recently posted..Lead For Crying Out Loud!My Profile

    Reply edit
  • Doug Eikermann January 5, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Thanks, Mark! The rewards for giiving are many indeed. Have a great week!

    Reply edit
  • Julvia M. castillo January 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Me encantó! Ojalá todos pudieramos tener presente estos 10 interesantes puntos para nuestra vida diaria. Que articulo tan lindo para empezar el Año Nuevo. Anoche a la una de la mañana regresé de Guatemala, y en este momento estoy en el trabajo (casi dormida). Abrazos, Julvia

    Reply edit
  • Doug Eikermann January 6, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    ¡Gracias, Julvia, y bienvenida a KC otra vez! ¡Espero que hayas pasado la Navidad y el Fin de Año a todo dar con tu familia!

    Reply edit
  • Akos Fintor January 9, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Hey, Doug,

    I read it somewhere that one of the most precious gifts we can give to another is our full attention, which is your Gift #2-an ear. Very nice share, indeed!


    Reply edit
  • Doug Eikermann January 9, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    “Full attention” is a fine interpretation of “Gift #2–An ear.” Thanks for reading the article and for taking the time to comment!

    Reply edit
  • Danijela March 25, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    This is one really beautiful post. I agree with you completely. Most of these things don’t cost, but they are valuable. I hope this will help people realize that it’s not to hard to make other people happy.

    Danijela recently posted..Grab Your Starbucks Goodies!My Profile

    Reply edit
  • Doug Eikermann March 25, 2012 at 7:49 pm

    Thanks, Danijela! Some folks do these things naturally, and others have to think about them first. Either way, doing simple things for others improves their lives as well as our own.

    Reply edit

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