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. TimeMany 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 hugThe 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. WisdomAs 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. HopeLittle 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.