The season of giving is upon us. As we prepare to give and receive gifts and share extra time with loved ones, it’s a good time for some reflection. As kids, we definitely don’t reflect. Our excitement is through the roof as we prepare to receive as many gifts as possible. In our young minds, the more, the better!
As we grow older, we realize the season is about more than gifts. We see the season as a way to share and enjoy our time with loved ones. Recently, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts, specifically Tim Ferriss’s podcast. It’s made be think about the real gift of giving. On the podcast, I’ve heard from some really fascinating people. They share stories of their hard work, sacrifice, dedication, perseverance, and commitment. In their sharing, I hear of their contribution to their families, to their friends, to their communities and to the world. I hear of all of the positive impacts they’ve been able to have on hundreds, thousands, and millions of lives around the world.
However, it always comes back to when they were their younger self. Maybe it was a parent or caregiver, maybe it was the environment in which they were raised, or maybe it was a teacher or a coach. Whatever the case, their lives were touched by individuals who profoundly impacted their lives. In order to be as successful as they have become, they needed certain skills, abilities, beliefs, values, principles, and experiences. They share how certain individuals instilled these attributes in them during their formative years. These seemingly small moments where they learned and experienced support, love, compassion, acceptance, and a nurturing environment that would help them as they moved through life.
These interviews, to me, demonstrate the tremendous power that we all have. They also demonstrate, to me, the real gift of giving. That is, the individuals who laid the foundation for these young people knew how to do one thing extremely well. However, let me first say that giving does not start with giving something to someone else. It is not first externalized between two people. Giving first starts within a person. People who truly know how to give understand that by being at their best they are able to be there more fully for others. They may knowingly or unknowingly ask themselves questions like “How can I better serve myself so that I can be at my absolute best for others?” Or they may simply and selflessly ask how they can serve the people who are close to them. When we’re our best self, not only will we feel better, but we’ll extend those feelings to those around us. We’ll be more readily available with our time, our energy, our love, and our presence, and these are really the best gifts to give. In addition, it is through this type of giving that we receive more than we could have ever hoped for.
So what’s the one thing these teachers, coaches, or parents did for these young people? They created space for them to experience themselves in a loving, supportive, nurturing environment where they were fully accepted. In such an environment they were able to fully experience and trust in themselves. These caregivers did not make the young person’s life about themselves. It was about giving their best self to these young people to give them the best opportunity to succeed in life. Where the young people could try and fail and get back up again, all the while knowing they were supported but also independent and free thinkers.
Giving doesn’t happen on a particular day, during a particular week, or during a particular season. Giving occurs in all relationships, including the ones we have with ourselves. Giving is a daily occurrence between ourselves and everyone we cross paths with. Giving is an opportunity we have every day. Each day we can choose to give our best self to the people, the tasks and activities we have but also an opportunity to give the best of what we have to ourselves. And through giving the best to ourselves we will be able to fully commit to and give to others and, in doing so, positively impact their lives as well as our own.