We did a clear out of the children’s games cupboard the other day. There were loads of puzzles and boardgames that our boys have out grown, none of them in good enough condition for the charity shops so I gave them to a local mum who has a younger son.
It felt good to see all those much loved games go to a home where I knew someone would get a lot of pleasure from them and it got me thinking about giving. Not the actual giving itself but how the act of it made me feel good.
In his lessons on Abundance, Deepak Chopra talks about how spiritual laws work the opposite to how you think they’re going to. If you want more of something in your life, you have to get better at giving things away. It feels counter-intuitive but it’s the way it works.
There’s this misconception that you have to be rich to be able to be generous. But we can give our time, our love and compassion to others. You can give advice. You can give someone else the credit for something. You can give compliments. You can smile!
The cosmic beauty of this is that the more you give, the more abundance you’ll receive in return.
The other day we thought we would sell Sam’s bike that he’s outgrown. It’s a good bike in great condition. Instead, Ed asked our neighbours if anyone wanted it for free. The woman who took it told us she’s giving it to a friend of hers who is having a really tough time. She’d lost her job and is a single mum. Her son was going to be thrilled with the bike. That felt like it was worth so much more than the £30 we’d have made from selling it.
Giving selflessly is an act of kindness. And being kind is actually good for our health. Kindness changes the brain, impacts the heart and immune system, improves relationships, and can even slow the ageing process.
Ultimately, it makes us happier. And it’s catchy. In The Five Side Effects of Kindness, Dr David Hamilton talks of a study done in Harvard and Yale where they explored the ripple effect of kindness. This study found that if you’re kind to someone then because of how that person feels (it’s called ‘elevation’ where they feel connected to you or uplifted or grateful) that person will likely be kind or kinder to someone else.
Given the amount of interactions we have day to day, it’s more likely that that one person will be kind or kinder to five people. And if those five people are kind or kinder to five more people, it comes to 125 people within three social steps. Just from your one simple act of kindness.
At this time of year, in this season of excess, it can be easy to get swept up in consumerism – particularly after the year we’ve had. I’m certainly going to be spoiling my loved ones. That's why it's a nice reminder to think about giving in all its permutations.
Give more. Give freely. Be kind without expecting anything in return. You might be surprised by how much richer your own life becomes.