What you give is less important than the spirit with which you offer. Studies show that regular giving of your time, energy, and resources provides physical, mental, and social benefits. (So long as you give from the heart without a plan and don’t overextend yourself.) These benefits of giving include:
- feeling happier and more fulfilled.
- Feeling gratitude and appreciation for and from others.
- Fostering social connection and cooperation.
- Improved self-esteem.
- Decreased stress.
- A longer, healthier life.
- Heightened senses of empathy, compassion, and love.
The benefits of giving and kindness go hand in hand. These virtues are two sides of the same coin.
In addition to the perks you receive. The cumulative effect of many people participating in all types of giving makes the world a better place for all.
19 Ways of giving you may have never thought of
These 19 ways to give include ideas that require out-of-the-box thinking. Some of them are closely related. Some are easy to do, others not so much. Each of these giving types will enhance your relationship with yourself and others.
- Give in.
What? Yes, sometimes it is okay to give in and let something go.
Let your spouse have the last word on which movie you watch or which restaurant you go to without an argument, eye-rolling, or sighing. Let someone else be right without making yourself wrong. It is okay to agree to disagree. Compromise when an issue isn’t a deal-breaker, but never compromise your morals and values.
- Give heed to your intuition and inner guidance.
Listen to the still small voice inside and heed what it says. Listen to the wisdom of your heart and soul and those who have earned their knowledge through the years. Intuition is difficult to silence. It is not irrational to fear, but it may guide you in ways that seem unreasonable.
A helpful way to access this wisdom is to close your eyes, place your hands on your heart and solar plexus and calm yourself with a few breaths. Then ask your question. Note any image, sensation, or words that immediately come.
- Give up what doesn’t serve you.
Give up control, judgment, blame, guilt, shame, addictions, health and relationship-harming habits, negativity, impulsive anger, and upset.
Release false personas and beliefs that don’t serve your highest good. Stop always looking on the cloudy side of the street and calling it “being realistic.” Let go of your head trash and stinking thinking.
Forego relationships with people who drag you down instead of lifting you. You may experience short-term discomfort and conflict in the process, but it is best for everyone in the long run.
- Give back what is not yours to keep.
Return or replace anything you have taken that does not rightly belong to you—return overdue library books and items you took from a store or someone in your family or workplace.
If you cannot give an item back, find a way to make equitable restitution. If that is not possible, make a modest donation of your time or money to a worthy cause.
- Give latitude or leeway.
Let people be themselves and do things their way. Agree to disagree. Be okay that someone folds towels differently than you or drives a few miles slower than the speed limit. Relieve yourself of the burdens of perfectionism and rigid thinking. This giving is a great way to reduce stress and increase contentment for all involved.
- Give empathy.
Empathy means you understand and share in the feelings of another being, human and nonhuman alike.
Empathy is not sympathy. Give sympathy to someone hurting, then go deeper by empathizing with them. Feel as if their pain and trouble were happening to you. Then use that empathy as a basis for the following types of giving: showing mercy, compassion, and/or support.
- Give mercy.
Show compassion or forgiveness toward someone you have the power to punish or harm. Practice ahimsa, meaning you do not purposely harm yourself, other humans, and other beings, nor do you allow others to hurt them in word or deed on your behalf.
- Give compassion.
Show concern and sensitivity for the suffering of human and nonhuman beings. Genuine compassion is more than a feeling. It propels you to act to relieve the suffering of another. Taking compassionate action puts the human in the word humane. Sometimes, you may do well to show yourself compassion as well.
- Give kindness.
Be friendly, generous, and considerate. Treat others, human and nonhuman, how you would want them to treat you.
Do planned or spontaneous acts of kindness as your spirit and intuition guide you. Help others when they are in need. Could you do something to brighten their day? Be kind to yourself, too.
- Give acceptance.
Accept yourself and others as you are. Don’t discriminate based on race, color, creed, weight, age, gender, species. Live and let live. I’m okay, and you’re okay. Giving acceptance doesn’t mean you close your eyes to evil and wrong. It means you acknowledge the human condition. You seek to help yourself and humanity evolve in the energy of love, not judgment.
- Give thanks.
Express gratitude for who you are and what you have, for the people who share their lives with you. Give thanks and appreciation for your blessings and for the difficult times that teach you lessons that make you a wiser, better, happier person when you come out on the other side. Thank your waitress, the store clerk, and anyone who helps you or shows you kindness, whether they are just doing their job or not. Keep this question in mind: “What would you have tomorrow if you could only have what you gave thanks for today?”
- Give blessings.
Give blessings often to yourself and others.
Bless yourself and all the parts of your body. Bless your food, your home, your workplace, your country, and your car.
Bless strangers, the animals in your yard, your family, friends, and co-workers. Bless and pray for those in positions of authority, whether you like them or not. Bless and do not curse. Bless others when they sneeze. I wish people well when they come into good fortune and mean it. If you feel jealous or angry with someone, stop yourself and bless them instead.
Offer blessings silently and aloud in your prayers. Say, “Blessings unto you.” They don’t have to hear you. Sometimes, it may be better if they don’t.
Be generous with praise and encouragement.
- Give love.
Unconditional love is one of the most healing forces on Earth. It is a feeling and much more than a feeling.
Love is inherent in all genuine types of giving from the heart. Offer yourself and others mercy, patience, kindness, compassion, acceptance, and support. Regularly give your loved ones the ultimate gifts of your undivided attention, time, and affection with no strings attached. Do nice things for others just because you can. You will warm your own heart as well as theirs.
- Give forgiveness.
Forgive yourself and others for perceived and actual wrongs. Forgive yourself for judging and grudge-holding.
Learning to forgive yourself frees you from the bondage of the past. It also makes it easier for you to let go of your judgments, resentment, and blame toward others. When you release others from your unforgiveness, you also free yourself from the emotional stress of the wrongdoing.
- Give respect.
Please show respect for those in authority over you whether you like them or not. Respect their position if you cannot respect the person. Pretend it was you in that position, doing your best (hopefully) and having dozens, thousands, millions of people publicly bashing and hating on you because your ideas do not agree with theirs. Take responsible, respectable action against their policies if you disagree with them and feel warranted.
Teach your children to respect those in authority, starting with you, their parents, and their teachers.
Respect the rights and dignity of others, including children and nonhumans. Respect the right of all creatures to live according to Nature’s design for them in the habitat given to them.
- Give peace.
World peace starts with you. It starts inside you, in your heart and home. Peace begins, and the war ends in our collective individual hearts.
Be the one who refuses to start or engage in conflict (not self-righteously or that will fuel the fire). Settle dispute amicably without automatically becoming hostile and defensive. Listen to what the other person is saying and understand their point of view before responding. Offer the olive branch of harmony in your heart; repeat the words over and over with intention until the trigger is neutralized.
- Give praise and encouragement.
Did you know that your brain loves praise and encouragement? When you give your brain positive kudos for doing something, it rewards you with a burst of feel-good dopamine so that you will repeat the behavior.
Be generous with these kinds of giving. Praise yourself and others. “Well done. “I’m proud of you. Way to go.” Offer encouragement with a “You can do it. Go for it!”
Reward someone with a smile and a high-five. Look yourself in the mirror and high-five yourself when you complete a task, do something new, or face a challenge head-on. It’s good to feel proud and happy when you take positive steps and achieve an accomplishment.
- Give attention and time.
Spend quality time with your loved ones, including your pets. Look people in the eye when they talk to you. Put away your cell phone and turn off the TV so you can give them your full attention. Listen thoughtfully.
Give attention to what you are doing. Be mindful and focused as you do your tasks.
- Give financial support.
Giving financial support is one of the most common types of giving.
Donate stuff you don’t need. De-clutter your home and pass along clothes and items in decent shape to the needy. Give sample-size shampoo and soap to your local women’s shelter. Animal shelters appreciate worn blankets and towels.
Give money to local as well as national organizations. Every dollar counts when combined with the gifts of others.