A Different Kind of Gift

A number of my Facebook friends love taking tests. You know what I’m talking about, right? For example, there is the Color Personality Test, How Old Do You Really Act Test, and the What Should Your Parents Have Named You Test. (I got Emma by the way).

     Well, I have a test for you. It’s about gift-giving. Coincidentally, this is my birthday month, and I can tell you precisely what will happen. My friend Nancy will give me some wonderfully practical item (last year it was organizers for my luggage) that I will keep forever. Janie will send me something lovely, but it will probably arrive in November. She has a loving, generous nature, but tends to run behind a bit. From my husband, it will be something he knows I want even though I never expressed it. He is perceptive that way. 

     My pal Samantha loves sweets. Consequently, my gift from Samantha will probably be some luscious chocolate-fudgy something or other. She gifts me with something absolutely over-the-top, and I love her for it! 

     Birthdays are fun, and presents are great, but let’s get serious for a moment and talk about a different kind of gift. Rate yourself on the non-material gifts you offer the world. Are you generous with your compliments? Do you lavish praise on others, especially those who desire your approval. Are you taking the time to offer encouragement and a helping hand? Do you mentor and act as a role model for others? Do you give of your time and stay present in the moment when interacting with loved ones? Is gratitude high on your priority list?

     If you passed this quiz with flying colors, I applaud you, but if you came in a little lean, no worries. We are all a work in progress. I’m making kindness a priority this year. On my Vision Board, I posted a sign that says, “Kick up Your Kindness Level.” One of the ways I am doing so is by using the website, More Love Letters. 

     The founder, Hannah Brencher, a Ted Speaker and blogger, was my inspiration. Feeling lonely and depressed when she moved to New York City, this real-life hero did something about it. Hannah started writing and leaving love notes all over the city. She tucked them away in library books, coffee shops, and even bathroom stalls. You can read more about this kindness movement in her  book, “If You Find This Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers.”

     Each month I go to Hannah’s website and write a love letter of sorts to someone who could use a dose of encouragement. If that act of kindness appeals to you, head over to her website now.

  This week, make it a point to shine your light on others. Caring acts bless both the giver and receiver. And thanks for reading this post and being a loving change agent!

Leave me a comment. I’d love to hear how you made the world a little brighter with your act of kindness.

Daily Kindness…No Strings Attached

Give Concept Clipped Cards and Lights

The Thanksgiving leftovers have long since vanished from the fridge; except for one cookie so beautiful I cannot bring myself to even remove the wrapper. A local pastry chef worked her magic creating that sweet work of art.

In addition to the cookie, I have another remnant from the past holiday. This one I created, it is intangible and something I will continue to possess.

Cookie

You see, this year I decided to put a spin on my usual Thanksgiving outreach. Rather than expressing my thanks to friends and family via Facebook posts, emails and colorful Hallmark cards, I spent Thanksgiving and each day since then executing actions that might elicit thankfulness.

Don’t get me wrong, gratitude was not the objective, actually quite the opposite. My premise was to focus my energy into random acts of kindness, no strings attached, no thanks required or needed. Okay, here’s the catch. Thinking up nice things to do for others is the easy part, executing is the fun part, but truly not caring if the deed ever gets even a small nod of thanks, is the hard part. At least it is for me.

For example, I am a very considerate driver. I happily wave people into my lane. I hold the door for others, in the grocery store I reach objects from the top shelf for strangers, let them cash out in front of me when they have just a few items, I volunteer at events and engage in community outreach. I do whatever I can to accommodate those around me, but I must confess I crave just a little payback. I silently fume a bit when a simple thank you is withheld.

My attitude changed earlier this month when I read this line from a prayer: “Blessed are those who give without expecting anything in return.” Okay, got the message. I needed to change my expectation. When I pondered this quote from Timber Hawkeye it really put me to shame: “Give without expecting anything in return. That is unconditional kindness…everything else is ego.” Oh, I am so busted. Wanting something in return was a way to feed my ego.

I’ll keep challenging myself daily to want nothing in return. Motivation to give should be pure and free of expectation. The good news is, I’ve been getting it right lately and realize there is an inherent payback.

Pear representing the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

The act of giving provides me with an enhanced sense of peace, love and joy. Thankfully, that is more than enough.