December 15, 2020
So fun to give
Daughter Sara and I stayed one night at the Grand Lake Lodge in Colorado; passing through many years ago. The huge log cabin lodge was dead quiet so after dinner I got out my guitar and played by the fire. For my own fun. Sara read her book. There was an older couple listening from 30 feet away.
After a few songs the couple got up to leave. The man handed me a $100 bill and gave me a smile and a nod as he walked out. The woman lingered a bit and then bent closer to fill me in. “He loves doing that,” she said.

Wow. How fun would that be! Handing out hundred-dollar bills!

Actually, I do it with 1s and 5s. I love to give money to anyone who asks for it. I’m that guy who slows traffic while I hand a dollar through my car window to a person with a sign. I get that they might use it for drugs or alcohol or cigarettes or other “bad things.” I get that they might “be able” to work. But you know what? They are asking. A fellow human being is asking for help. Let me treat that person with dignity and give them what they are asking for, without hassle, and not judge what’s best for them.

And you know what else? It’s direct giving. No middleman, no paper work, 100% of my charitable gift hits the street. Handing a bill directly to someone just makes me smile; makes me feel good that my actions are aligned with my principles.

It doesn’t have to get noticed. I notice. I’m watching me. I once heard someone say, “Try to do something nice for someone every day and not get caught.”

For me, I’m giving when I hand out money but also when organize a neighborhood Olympics or haunted barn. When I run Zoom for Quaker Meeting. When I take a call from a friend. When I play guitar for people. When I mentor or cheer someone. When I help Carol with dinner. Some of these things get arduous, or expensive, yet if I can think of them as “giving gifts to others” then the tasks are more fun and the money less concern.

Am I weird? Do other people get such a kick out of giving?spacespacespac...See More
The best gifts are not always big and new

Sometimes the most valuable gift is the day-to-day stuff that you signed up for. Just playing your part. Reliably.

Do the next thing right in front of you. Sometimes that is the greatest gift.

Here's a video from just after Quaker Meeting one first day. Friend Ellis held the camera.
Practical benefits of giving
Giving isn't just for fun, it can be life-saving.

Giving to others is the bedrock of step 12; the part of all 12-step recovery programs that says you gotta give to others as a strategy to save yourself. It's a practical matter.

How many movies have we seen where -- at death's door -- someone's will to live comes from their need to give something to someone else?

Stuck in a rut? Find a person or project to give to. At the very least it will be a distraction and might get you out of your own way.
The research is clear. Giving money to another person is more likely to lift your spirits than spending money on yourself. See Money spent on others can buy happiness in the Harvard Gazette.

This New York Times article -- Spend More on Society and Get More for Yourself -- explains that American individualism has made individuals unhappy and, too frequently, sick. Another social research study finds that when people give to charities it activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust, creating a “warm glow” effect. See the Jorge Moll and colleagues paper at the National Institutes of Health website.

To Help You Get Along
Written and published by Craig Freshley. Thanks for walking along with me.
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