Tag Archives: giving

Season of Giving During Trying Times

A tough year, stressful, full of fear and doubt. This is one person’s story , a deliberate response to all the uncertainty of the times…

A regular Joe was driving home to see his family after a hard day. He comes upon a beat-up, broken-down car along the side of the road.   This average guy, named Jim, doesn’t hesitate to stop and see what help he can give to the stranger standing nearby.

The year was 1929.  Life was difficult and the Great Depression was just underway. It was a desperate time when the daily grind for many revolved around one thing: looking for a way to stay alive.  It was also a time, interestingly enough, when generosity abounded.

Love and its manifestations of giving, kindness, and compassion have long marked the best of human nature.  Whatever impels someone to give of himself even when he has little to offer has pulled many individuals through difficult times.

Scientific investigation…Read more 

Thankful in a tumultuous year

Could things be anymore divided?

Protest, distrust, hatred, and violence scarred the year, but the President thoughtfully shared his impression: “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.”

Abraham Lincoln’s gracious assessment of 1863 is immortalized in the opening line of his first Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. And it offers insight into a healing response to this year’s unrest.

Over 150 years have passed since Lincoln’s establishment of an annual, national observance of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”  In 1863 that day came just one week after the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at Gettysburg where Lincoln gave his celebrated two minute address. The War Between the States would go on for another year and a half.

What prompted Lincoln to articulate such a “healthful” outlook, where many saw only servitude to gloom and despair, was an intensified appreciation for blessings and their origin.   Read more…

Helping as only you can

This is National Volunteer Week.

Scene: A regular Joe driving home to see his family after a hard day. He comes upon a beat-up, broken-down car along the side of the road.   This average guy, named Jim, doesn’t hesitate to stop and see what help he can give to the stranger standing nearby.

The year was 1929.  Life was difficult.  And it would not get better for a long while.  It was a desperate time when daily life for many revolved around one thing: looking for a way to stay alive.  It was also a time, interesting enough, when generosity abounded.

Love and its manifestations of giving, kindness, and compassion have long marked the best of human nature.  Whatever impels someone to give of himself even when he has little to offer has pulled many individuals through difficult times.

Scientific investigation on the effects of love in our lives has uncovered some interesting findings. The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, founded at Case Western Reserve University, has been looking into the subject.  Part of its mission statement includes answering the question: Does the sincere love of neighbor contribute to the happiness and health of both those who give it and those who receive it?  Read more….

Giving is living

Scene: A regular Joe driving home to see his family after a hard day. He comes upon a beat-up broken-down car along the side of the road.   This average guy, named Jim, doesn’t hesitate to stop and see what help he can give to the stranger standing nearby.

The year was 1929.  Life was difficult.  And it would not get better for a long while.  It was a desperate time when daily life for many revolved around one thing: looking for a way to stay alive.  It was also a time, interesting enough, when generosity abounded.

Love and its variants such as giving, kindness, and compassion have long marked the best of human nature.  Whatever impels someone to give of himself even when he has little to offer has pulled many individuals through difficult times.

Scientific investigation on the effects of love in our lives has uncovered some interesting findings. The Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, founded at Case Western Reserve University, has been looking into the subject for a decade.  Part of its mission statement includes answering the question: Does the sincere love of neighbor contribute to the happiness and health of both those who give it and those who receive it?

In a recent newsletter, Stephen Post, founder of the institute shared these stats from the 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey, released by United Healthcare and VolunteerMatch:

68% of those who volunteered in the last year reported volunteering made them feel physically healthier

89% reported “volunteering has improved my sense of well-being”

92% agreed that volunteering enriched their sense of purpose in life

Jim didn’t know about this data when he volunteered to help the stranger get his car going.  I suspect it was out of a sense of duty and privilege, an unconditional love.  The men were of different race and came from different cultures, but Jim only saw a neighbor in need. Turns out the man had a wife and several children with him in the car.  They were homeless and looking for work when the car would not go any further.

It would be enough that Jim got the car running that day, but he didn’t stop there.  Jim had an abandoned house on his property that he offered the family to use as long as they needed.  Love knows no bounds. The place was fairly dilapidated, so Jim fixed it up while the family moved in.  The home had no heat, so Jim went and got an old Coleman stove he had stored away.  The family had no food, so Jim’s wife brought them what she had from her own pantry.

The stranger had no job, so Jim helped him find one. The family had no friends, so Jim’s family befriended them.  That’s unlimited love.  Jim’s philosophy in life was “giving is living.” If this encounter with a stranger is any indication, Jim knew how to live.

It has been said the hole through which you give is the hole through which you get. Yet, getting is not the goal of unconditional love. Post shares this advice: “We should never count on reciprocity because this is sure to be frustrating and ultimately small-minded.  Better to take joy when those upon whom our love is bestowed do not ‘pay it back’ to us, but rather ‘pay it forward’ to others as they move through life remembering our good example.”

The stranger and his family stayed in the house for several months before finding a permanent job in another town.  They gave back to Jim and his family all they had, their love and respect.

Post quotes Thoreau: “Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”

As the Do Good Live Well Survey indicates there are mutual benefits to selfless love:   the recipient’s needs are met and the giver feels healthier with a strengthened sense of well-being.  Seems like a win-win. Giving really is living.

Sincere thanks to my good friend, Maureen, who shared the account of her father, Jim, with me recently. 

Igniting the “givers glow”

One of the most recognizable characters in literature is the parsimonious Ebenezer Scrooge.  During the Christmas season, he, Jacob Marley, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim step into the spotlight as The Christmas Carol takes center stage on television and in theaters.

You can find a different version of the classic tale on TV any given day during December.  I watched the Muppet adaptation this past weekend and the George C. Scott version last night. Bill Murray does a comedic modern-day Scrooge that is fun to see.

If you count them all there have been over 200 different undertakings to share the classic story of the transformation of a miserable old soul into a giddy and happy benefactor.  It is a story that resonates in our culture.

What lesson does Scrooge learn during that fateful Christmas Eve night when confronted by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come?  He remembers to love.  And his love is embodied in giving. And his generosity changes his whole demeanor.

Professor and researcher, Stephen Post, refers to this new persona as the “givers glow”. Post authored The Hidden Gifts of Helping and is president of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love.

In a holiday message, Post shares some insights about love and giving.  It turns out that the “glow” that comes from giving isn’t wishful thinking.  Participants in the 2010 Do Good Live Well Survey, released by United Healthcare, reported that “volunteering made them feel physically healthier”. Continue reading Igniting the “givers glow”