I was reading a magazine when my eye caught the word “give”. Give. An extremely simple word with a very extensive meaning. The word had such impact on me, I decided to dedicate my week to it. It would be a week centered around giving and in this post I’ll tell you what it taught me.

As soon as I decided to give for a week, I asked myself: What is it exactly that I can give?

what can you give?

Surely, the first thing you might think about is giving in terms of money. For example, buying a magazine from the homeless lad at the supermarket or donating money to a good cause. Truth is not all of us have the means to give financially and that’s totally cool, as there are heaps of other ways to give that do not costs a penny. In case you are capable of sharing your wealth, there are tons of organisations and projects in need of funding; pick one with a cause that is close to your heart!

What other things can you give? Your time and attention! When living in Australia, I was volunteering for OzHarvest, a charity that rescues food. Back in the Netherlands, I was looking for organisations with a similar cause as I’m a fervent food-waste fighter and I love to cook. If you enjoy talking to people take an elderly person in a nursing home for a walk, or if you enjoy language perhaps you’d like to teach English to a refugee. Think about your interests, volunteering is always more fun when you do something you like!

There are endless ways to give and they don’t have to costs a thing!

Extremely busy that week, I wasn’t able to free space up for volunteering. Hastily looking for other things to give I realised, the act of giving could be even smaller without losing its significance. I ended up paying more attention to my environment and ask myself where or when I could give to someone. Paying a friend an unexpected visit, arranging a goodbye gift for a colleague, giving a smile to a sad looking stranger, texting a friend with a sweet good morning message… There are endless ways to give and they don’t have to costs a thing!

giving to yourself

After a few days of consciously giving, I observed that I’d only thought about giving to others. Naturally, you shouldn’t be forgetting about yourself! It might come as a shock, but for some of us it’s easier to give to others than it is to give to ourselves. As I didn’t deem it necessary to buy all sorts of things for myself (I already have so many things), I gifted myself some alone time: I went to the movies, squeezed in an extra yoga class and planned an entire afternoon to read a book on the couch. What else do you want! Happy days!

why giving feels great!

Giving makes you feel great, especially when you are giving to others. Apart from the fact that is does something to our brain, I found it’s a whole lot of things about giving that makes you feel so happy. First of all, giving allows you to help a person; provoke a smile on their face or even give them courage to continue on their journey. Likewise, being able to share that which you have with another person evokes appreciation. It forces to reflect on your own situation and releases a feeling of gratitude when you notice that you’re in a position to give. Furthermore, in the act of gifting something to someone else, you’re connecting with them. Whether you’re donating money to a cause, volunteer for a day or smile to a stranger, you’re reaching out; you’re showing someone you care and open yourself up to connect to others. Pretty great right?

For it is in giving that we receive.

St. Francis of Assisi

We all have a lot to give and it can be as simple as hugging a colleague who’s going through a rough patch or gifting a thank you to someone. Give a little every day and perhaps you’ll find yourself making someone else’s life, and your own, a tad more meaningful.