“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill
Giving is a language we all understand. You give something, and you see people smile and feel better. The concept is simple by nature, yet complicated by us.
We spend most of the year trying to get, to make money, so that we can live happy lives. This time of year can be full of expectations, and giving can seem forced; you may feel pressured to buy things that you later regret. Maybe you are spending more than you budgeted. The feel-good part of giving can get lost in the holiday’s mania and leave us feeling angry and not very generous.
Consider this– when you give, you can experience joy, ease anxiety, and help yourself sleep better. Giving, when done freely, brings lasting happiness to your own life. It is a way of life that underscores just how powerful a role generosity can play by helping us feel connected to our families, friends, and community at large.
Giving back to the community
When I opened my studio six years ago, I understood the next frontier was supporting my community by giving haircuts to people who lacked access to regular grooming services.
On my drive to my studio each morning, I witnessed the growing number of the homeless lining the streets. I struggled throughout my career to find meaning in my work. I asked myself, “What could I give?” A haircut seemed the obvious choice. I called community organizations to see if they could use my services. They answered with a resounding, “YES!”. Over three years, we offered 1500 haircuts to the Bay Area’s unhoused and low-income people.
Although my nonprofit is closing this year because of the pandemic, when I reflect on the experience of gathering 200 volunteers, hairstylists, barbers, manicurists, and makeup artists, I am left with awe.
As a diverse coalition of beauty professionals, we experienced joy together for the greater good will be remembered. Soon into the work, it became apparent that we realized the giving was coming from the people we served in the giving. They opened to us and allowed us to care for them.
The experience has left an indelible mark on me. Even though the nonprofit is coming to an end, I believe I will always give. I will always find a way to serve because I know this creates more profound meaning in my life, and the language of giving is spoken of or heard; it is a silent language.
Giving your time and resources
Now, I’m not saying that having your nonprofit is the only way to experience the joy of giving. But what I am saying is that each of us must find our way of giving, which satisfies, adds meaning to our lives and those we serve.
Sharing your time and resources creates a pathway of exchange in your communities and is vital to the services they offer. Giving is the language that all people can feel whether you are the giver or receiver.
We don’t have to spend to give either. The gift can be free. Consider giving your time at a local shelter, or perhaps design work is your specialty or social media. All organizations need help, particularly now. The gesture doesn’t need to be grand to be significant.
Many organizations will be ending their work in the community because of the pandemic. So, even though you may feel tapped of resources, giving your time is gold, and you will be paid back far beyond what money can buy.
Giving as receiving
When we work towards the greater good, our tank gets filled in the process. Giving is the key to happiness. Give often and freely. You will see the reduction of depression, anxiety, fear, and loneliness. You will see the interconnectedness between us all. What a great gift that is.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!