The Gift of Giving
In 2012 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, an idea was born — an idea to give back to others after a post-Thanksgiving weekend full of unbridled consumerism here in the United States. That simple idea spawned a global movement: GivingTuesday. While it has since separated from the 92nd Street Y to become its own organization, GivingTuesday’s mission and passion for giving remains strong and growing — EVEN in countries where there is no Black Friday or Cyber Monday mania.
Why would this be?
Because, giving matters. Giving connects us to others. It creates bonds and strengthens communities. It’s a tradition as old as time.
We give gifts to others to show how much we appreciate them, to tell them that they are special to us. We also give gifts to support causes that are important to us or to help those less fortunate than we are. Yet at the same time, when we give, we release endorphins — our feel-good chemicals — and that helps us feel happier ourselves. Happiness makes us healthier and gives us a more positive outlook, which has been linked to better sleep, fewer heart attacks, and a greater feeling of fulfillment.
Giving also helps us develop a sense of purpose and an understanding of what matters most to us. As Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Our purpose is personal and it’s as individual as we are. It’s informed by our values and beliefs, by our traditions and responsibilities, by our passions and associations.
Now, as the holiday season is upon us, gift giving is at the top of our minds. From choosing the perfect items for everyone on our lists to finding causes that matter to us to staying within budget to volunteering to wrapping to delivering our gifts, we have a lot to juggle, including this year’s added wrinkle of staying safe and socially distant. Some of us live for the thrill of it all and others dread every minute of it.
But as we learned during childhood, it’s not the gift that matters. It’s the thought. Gifts and giving don’t need to wreck our budgets or our joy. They can be as simple as a gift card or check. They can be extravagant or frugal, store-bought or homemade. They can even be gifts of time, which is priceless.
The most important thing is that they come from the heart — that is the best way to show our appreciation.
How will you give this year?