‘Tis the season… for giving!
No matter what your faith or religion might be, the holiday season is a time for everyone to celebrate with family and friends.
And a time to show our appreciation for each other through a simple act: giving.
But contrary to popular opinion, giving doesn’t always mean an exchange of physical gifts.
Giving is—first and foremost—about giving gifts of the heart.
As we all have experienced, a simple word of love, motivation or encouragement can be much more valuable than gifts from a shop.
Giving is an art with huge benefits for both giver and receiver.
When you give unconditionally, with no expectations, you can experience a joy like none other.
Let’s explore together…
What Does Giving of the Heart Really Mean?
“It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.” ~Mother Theresa
What does ‘giving gifts of the heart’ really mean?
It means we give the people in our lives—friends and strangers alike—intangible gifts. Gifts that sometimes are rather rare in our busy, stressed worlds.
So very generally, we can give a multiple of ways.
By being honest.
And of course, giving our time is probably one of the most valuable gifts of all — it’s a demonstration of true caring and full presence in one another’s lives.
Why Giving Is Important
“To give and not expect return, that is what lies at the heart of love.” ~Oscar Wilde
Here are some reasons why giving is so important (and not just for the person who is receiving!)
- Giving is a blessing. Giving of yourself is a blessing that brings joy to you and the recipient. The act of giving is contagious – spreading positivity and light from one person to the next.
- Giving is therapeutic. When you give, you’re not just helping the person you’re giving something to—you’re also helping yourself. Try this ‘giving therapy’ the next time you’re feeling down. Make others smile, and you’ll enjoy benefits; you will feel happier and less stressed immediately. Giving is the best natural anti-depressant on the planet.
- Giving is revitalizing. A great deal more happiness is gained through giving than receiving. “Give others all that is alive in us—our interest, understanding, our knowledge, our humor, everything in us that’s good. In doing so, we enhance the sense of aliveness in others while enhancing our own. When we give, we get a “heightened vitality” of what it means to be human.” ~Erich Fromm
- Giving is healthful. Giving isn’t just good for the soul and the spirit; it’s actually good for your body too! Research has even linked generosity to improved health. For example, a 2006 study demonstrated that individuals who provided social support to others had lower blood pressure than those who didn’t. In other words, there is a direct physiological benefit to giving.
In that vein, Stephen Post’s book, Why Good Things Happen to Good People, shows how giving increases health benefits in the chronically ill, including HIV and multiple sclerosis patients.
Supporting this idea, a 1999 UC Berkeley study shows that volunteer activities may increase life span in the elderly while a separate 2003 study discusses the relative contribution of giving to longevity in elderly people who provide emotional support to spouses, friends, relatives or neighbors.
A Few Giving Ideas
“The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.” ~Pierre Corneille
This holiday season, you can do so much more than shopping and wrapping. Here are a few specific ideas for ‘giving of the heart’ gifts:
- Offer to cook (plant-based) dinners for a family member.
- Share a meaningful article in a “thinking of you” message with a friend or family member.
- Invite a coworker to a holiday event.
- Donate to your local supermarket’s food drive.
- Show someone how you make something (recipe, arts and crafts)
And What About Giving to Yourself?
Let’s not forget that this season of giving isn’t only about giving to others. One of the most important person we can give to is ourselves.
So why not give yourself a gift of the heart?
Seven years ago, after reading The China Study, I chose to give myself the beautiful gift of a plant-based lifestyle. It was one of the best gifts ever.
And all of you who participated in our Food Day Challenge gave yourselves a gift simply by trying out a plant-based diet.
I just have one question.
No matter where you are on your plant-based journey, could you use this holiday season as a time to give yourself the best gift of all—a firm commitment to a healthful, happy life and a plant-based diet?
Why not now? Why not give yourself the gift of health by practicing a whole food, plant-based diet…
Think about it. (And make sure to let me know what you decide!)
And I’m sending each and every one of you my biggest and most heartfelt holiday wishes ever.
Enjoy a wonderful holiday!