Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

October 29, 2012

GIVING BACK: Being mindful when giving

CROSSVILLE — We all want to be generous, especially toward the one we love. Yet that deep urge has been used to program us during the holiday season to open our wallets and buy budget-breaking, unwanted stuff. Many cringe at the expensive and elaborate rituals we follow to prove to others that we deeply care for them. Gifting and decorating tie us up in knots of expectations.

Most agree that it's the thought behind the giving that counts most. Being mindful about gift giving means paying attention to the whys behind the gift. Look anew at how we give and question preconceived or traditional ideas of giving. Being mindful requires us to reconsider what we think we know about giving and being open to change in ways that better reflect our values.

We can have conversations with our loved ones about giving. When we talk about our feelings about giving, it is easier to act on those feelings.

Questions that dig deep into the meaning behind giving might include:

•What gifts have you treasured the most and why?

•How do you feel about how you and your family give gifts now? 

•What are you trying to communicate through your gifts?

•What does generosity mean to you?

•How do you measure the value of a gift which you give as well as the ones you receive?

Look for the underlying values of wanting to buy stuff and give it away. Why do you and your family consider a gift you buy of more value than a gift of yourself? What kinds of gifts shared between family members and close friends are the most meaningful?

Decide on gifts that will bring this meaning to you and your loved ones. Don't be afraid to make changes from previous years and adapt to changing economic times.

Looking deeply into generosity may change how we give. While the holidays are the perfect time to consider and reflect on giving, we need to practice giving throughout the year. The practice of generosity is the foundation of virtue and can connect us with people different from ourselves. Encourage your family to get involved in volunteer efforts where they not only learn empathy and compassion but also develop skills in planning, organizing and strategizing to make their communities and the world a better place.

The less you have to take from the Earth to express your love, the more you express your love for the Earth.

If you have recycling questions, please let me know and I will try to get answers:  lgorenflo@gmail.com.

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