This time of year is all about getting and giving – usually in that order. Even our giving has a slight, “see how awesome my present to you was” part of it.
But here’s a definition of gift: a thing given willingly without payment.
if we can remove all of the baggage that surrounds the stress of gift giving around Christmas, we’ll notice that giving can be a powerful discipline to generate greater simplicity and focus in our lives.
4 Ways Giving Can Foster Simplicity
- It decreases our ‘stuff’: If we are focused on giving, then we’re focused not on accumulating things but on parting with something of our own for the benefit of someone else. Not that we want to clutter them up, but still…
- It puts our focus on others: One of the wonderful things about moving toward a more simple life is that it allows us to be less consumed with all the plates we have spinning and more able to be aware of those around us. Giving is good practice for this. We focus on others’ needs and wants vs. our own. If it’s charitable giving, we partner with a mission beyond our own personal purpose.
- It teaches us to budget: Unless we want to go deeper and deeper into debt, we have to budget in order to give well. It’s not nearly as satisfying to know that AmEx funded a purchase.
- It reveals our heart: Giving can actually carry some level of stress with it. We can fear being compared (why was your gift so crappy compared to Aunt Judy’s?). We can realize we actually are selfish (if I’m getting Cousin Jimmy X, then Cousin Jimmy better give me something of equal or greater value to X). Anytime we can peel away layers of yuck from our heart, it’s a step toward living with greater freedom.
If living simply is about removing impediments to more purposeful lives, then giving can be an incredible tool for that.
Unfortunately, giving gifts becomes a source of complexity and excess instead of an expression of love and generosity.
Even if we have gone all in with the excess and the debt and the crazy of this time of year, we can at least be more mindful moving forward.
Simplify the Gift
How can we give gifts every day that don’t require anything from us except thoughtfulness and noticing others?
No stuff needs to be exchanged. No stress about whether we can afford it. No concern for whether it’s reciprocated. Just simple gifts given generously.
Throughout December (and every other day for that matter), seek out opportunities to give. A word. A compliment. A bit of encouragement. A courtesy laugh.
- Give things you don’t need anymore to people who could use those things.
- Notice someone and do everything in your power to improve their situation.
- Don’t give out of guilt or pride, causing you to go into debt.
- And train yourself to be mindful when you give and see what your giving reveals.