My 2012 New Year's resolution is to give. It probably seems weird to be writing about resolutions in May, but a 5-month check-in will help keep me on track. I'm tapping into that part of myself that gives freely and openly without expecting anything in return. Not an easy feat. My ego usually wants people to notice my good deeds and acknowledge them with praise and compliments. Shower me, shower me! Of course everyone loves to be recognized, but my spiritual practice is asking me to give just for the sake of giving. I love to talk and usually want to tell people about what I'm up to (like I'm doing right now). So for the next few weeks, I'm going to offer up my time, services, food, money, etc., and NOT tell anyone about it. I'm practicing how to validate myself, lift myself up and serve the world through the 3 guidelines of giving.
The first guideline of giving is that you must give to yourself first. I can not offer anything of value if I'm exhausted, anxious or worried. I have to give myself time to sleep, eat healthy foods, meditate, enjoy social time with friends and drink plenty of water in order to then be ready to give some energy to anyone else. Therefore, my first step in the year of giving is to fill myself up with positivity and healthy habits. Once my cup is full, I can share the abundant overflow.
The second guideline is to show up with a mentality of service. For example, I show up at a party with the intention of giving and serving. Most of the time, the best gift I can give is active listening and engagement in a personal conversation. Asking questions and truly listening is an invaluable service that people often overlook. When I'm ready to serve and support a friend, I put my cell phone away, angle my chair and look them in the eye. Sometimes I have to consciously say to myself silently, "Listen." I do this with my students in my classroom and in my personal life. As humans, we crave personal connections. The best way to ignite the connection and share the love is to listen.
My mentor, Gabrielle Bernstein, shares a funny acronym: WAIT. It stands for Why Am I Talking? This acronym is going to come in very handy when I'm trying to listen and serve. Sometimes I get carried away and just go on and on. When I catch myself, I'm just going to say to myself silently, "WAIT," followed by, "Listen." This idea applies at work, at home, in social situations, anywhere.
The third guidline of giving is to cultivate gratitude. By giving thanks daily, we learn to see our lives as full of abundance. It's easy to get brainwashed and think we need to constantly buy more, do more, work more, more, more, more. If we're always striving and never appreciating, we miss the beauty of today and the chance to give. When I count my blessings during morning meditation or write a gratitude list in my journal, I feel so full and relaxed and abundant that I realize how much I have to offer and how much I can afford to give away.
Life is unpredictable. I'm learning to set down my plans and my self-interest in order to open up to new opportunities to help others. How do you like to give? Share your story and post a comment below. Give, baby, GIVE!