“If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.”
I have learned a lot about sharing during my quest for spiritual and personal growth – especially during my brief stint of being polyamorous, which I will go into detail more at another time – and what I always find is that the more we give, the more we receive. It may sound cliche, but it’s so true! One of the reasons many people become over-protective or attached to their possessions/money/friends etc. is a fear of lack. We are afraid that there is not enough to go around, so we must hold on tightly to what we have! It is crazy how many people think that the world owes them something, that they deserve to have everything they want without ever having to give anything away.
The truth is, at least in this part of the world, there is usually more than enough of most of our resources and when we give freely, we create our own sense of abundance and gratitude and open up space for others to give back to us. This doesn’t mean we give only so that we can keep track of who owes us and make sure they give back to us at some point – it means that we give without expectation, knowing that there will be enough for all of us and that if we are kind and generous to others, that kindness and generosity will come back to us in some way.
If we believe that the world is a miserable place where we all have to fight tooth and nail to keep what we have so others won’t take it from us, then that is the reality we will create for ourselves. We will become stingy and selfish and we will expect the same from others – we will notice that behavior when we see it and it will reconfirm our idea of how we think the world works. But if we believe that there is always enough, that it is possible to give freely whenever we can and still trust that we will have what we need, then we will invite that same energy into our lives and others will feel compelled to give to us as well. Which world would you rather live in? Our reality really is just a reflection of our own actions and beliefs – it’s true!
Last year, I was reading the book “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero when I came across this passage: “…giving is one of our greatest joys. It’s also one of the most fearless and powerful gestures there is…When we’re in fear, we hold on to what we’ve got because we don’t trust that there’s more.” (pg. 110). This really struck a chord with me, as I am continuously working on being a more generous and giving person – it’s not always easy! In fact, being stingy and selfish is one of the things I judge myself most harshly for whenever I feel I am acting in that way.
While I love gift giving, there are often times when I don’t feel like sharing (especially when it comes to food!) Although there are many times when it is perfectly fine to want to keep something to ourselves, I generally find that if I push through that initially feeling and offer whatever I have to someone else, I end up feeling better about it. But let me tell you, it can be a real struggle, especially if it’s some sort of delicious vegan and gluten-free treat…
Sharing the spotlight
As someone who loves people, attention, and getting gold stars, it can be particularly difficult for me to share the spotlight. For example, I do not like having joint birthday parties and avoid them at all costs – I want to be the one getting all the attention, I don’t what to have to share! Only once in my life have I celebrated my birthday with another person and I sure hope he appreciates my sacrifice…
It is for this reason that I was so impressed by an act of generosity I witnessed at a “Ninja Warrior” event at my local climbing gym. The event consisted of a huge obstacle course throughout the gym and costumes were encouraged. While most people had not dressed up, I befriended a girl named Caty who had shown up in a full-body Spiderman costume and was totally rocking it. While she and I were waiting for our turn to attempt the course, a guy came up who was totally stoked about her costume and jokingly offered to trade her outfits. To his (and my) surprise, Caty said “Ok!” and said she would be happy to switch clothes with him if he wanted to wear her Spiderman costume when he did the course. The switch happened and Austin completed the course, looking awesome and doing the Spiderman web gesture throughout (or whatever that’s called). The crowd loved it and Austin got all sorts of positive attention, especially when he completed the final obstacle, which not very many people did.
This gesture totally blew me away. Rather than keeping all the glory of being the only person in an awesome costume to herself, Caty was immediately willing to share the attention with someone else – she didn’t even hesitate before saying yes to a costume switch. This was such a good example to me of generosity and sharing and was totally inspiring – especially to someone like me who would have been so proud of the fact that I was wearing such an awesome costume that I never would have jumped at the chance to give that attention away to another human being!
When I was in Spain a few years ago, I was chatting with a lovely Greek woman I had met during my travels and commented on how beautiful her earring was. It was a really cool leaf that had been somehow preserved and was hanging from a large seed pod of some sort that came from the same tree. It’s hard to describe, but you get the idea, it was pretty awesome. The girl told me the story of the earring, that someone else had given it to her, and then she took it off and presented it to me and with a huge smile, she said “And now, it is yours!”. I was completely shocked and full of love and gratitude – it was such a kind and unexpected gesture.
I have worn that earring everywhere I have gone over the last several years and have gotten compliments on it all the time. It has been a meaningful reminder to me of that trip and of the kindness and generosity of the people I met along the way. I have sometimes thought that I should eventually pass it on to someone else, but have loved it so much that I haven’t wanted to let it go.
Well, I was recently at my first Ayahuasca ceremony and met a bunch of really beautiful, amazing people, a few of whom happened to comment on my earring. We were talking about the generosity of the girl who gave it to me when someone said “Sometimes you have to let go of things in order to let more abundance flow through you” (or something poetic like that). Damn – she was right!
I thought about what she had said when I went home that night and considered giving my earring away to her when we met up again the next day. The thought of parting with my beautiful piece of jewelry was difficult, but as soon as I had the idea I knew I had to go through with it – it was time for the earring to move on to someone else. The next day, I told my new friend that I wanted her to have the earring and thanked her for all the support she had given me the previous day during the ceremony. While it was still hard for me to let the earring go, I knew that it would now be as meaningful to her as it had been to me, and besides, I would still have the meaning and the memories I associated with it, even if I didn’t have the physical object itself.
What can you give?
There are so many different ways to give to others, and so many of them do not involve very much effort on our parts! Some of the most meaningful gestures take the least amount of money/time/energy, like leaving a nice little note for someone you love, or drawing someone a picture, or simply giving time and space to a friend who just needs someone to listen. Show up at someone’s door with a flower you picked for them along the way, send someone a song that made you think of them, make dinner for someone who works late, write a letter and send it in the actual mail! Make generosity a daily practice – make a list of ways that you can give to others and try to notice each day when there are moments that allow you to give! You may even become addicted to giving and find that the more you give, the happier and more grateful you feel!
In the words of the great Jason Mraz: “Love is a funny thing, whenever I give it, it comes back to me”.