Tuesday, February 9, 2016

#Generosity2016: Notice What Would Make Someone's Life Easier

I have a new focus for #Generosity2016. You could say it is my goal for February.

Notice what would make someone's life easier.

This sentence comes from a simple wikihow; How to Be Generous  Step 1. Get in the right mindset. 
The article defines this in simple steps: Give from the heart, Know that giving will make you happier, Be grateful for what you have, Be generous to yourself, and that last one that I can't check off my list yet. Notice what would make someone's life easier.

See, I give of my time at church and in my job, but those both are still within my comfort zone. It's me being kind on my terms. Something still feels wrong.

In speaking with my Mom, to whom I gave some jigsaw puzzles for no reason other than I love her, I realized that while she appreciates them, they are not filling a need in her life. She shared that my Dad needs a new wallet. This is something I could gift him, provided I know what kind he likes. But before I could gift one, he might buy one for himself. It's still not really filling a "need". Neither scenario, giving my Mom puzzles nor my Dad a wallet, is really at the heart of generosity.

NEED is defined as circumstances in which something is necessary, or that require some course of action; necessity.

Synonyms: necessity, obligation, requirement, call, demand

I should examine what a NEED is to proceed. Fulfilling a need would make someone's life easier.

In my city, there are certainly needs. One of the community centers my church supports has expressed a need for pillows and blankets for the children they serve. Here is a way I can be generous and fulfill a need. There is a demand for bedding for these kids. Even if they don't have a mattress and bed frame they can curl up in a warm blanket with a pillow. I noticed that pillows and blankets were already being collected Sunday morning at church.

Buying things for other people is not really that far out of my comfort zone. I buy items for my students and classroom frequently. While I can purchase pillows or donate blankets, I'm missing the chance to see the gratefulness on the faces of the recipients. This is what I am missing. Ghosting around giving behind the scenes is not feeling satisfactory. It's time for my generosity to get personal.

I love giving gifts, especially at Christmas. What makes it fun is the joy in the recipient's eyes. That same joy can be found in the eyes of someone who has a need and I fill it.

 Notice what would make someone's life easier. 


Step 2: Doing Acts of Kindness from the WikiHow page includes being kind to strangers.  
Talk about getting out of my comfort zone! But this really is the next step for me. In no way do I have to find a large group of strangers. I can choose one person. Using small talk, I can learn about a need they have and if it is within my ability to help out right then and there, I will. I know it is possible to do secret acts of kindness, like hiding money in books for coffee or quarters in coin machines, but I want to do something less covert. I want to make someone smile. I want to see their joy.

Notice what would make someone's life easier. 

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