The Giving Tree

Week 1, Day 2 – Learning the Basics

Yesterday, we briefly defined four types of people – Givers, Receivers, Balancers & Empty Nesters. As we learn the basics this week, the most logical sense it to spend some time on each type, to explore each personality a little more. And, that was the plan. Until I woke up this morning. Instead of diving into the Givers today, I would like to side-step for just a moment & use a little known story to help us think about the relationship between Givers and Takers.

Many of us may be familiar with the popular children’s poem/book, The Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein. If you’ve never read it, you can read it here –…/35C18…/155278/TheGivingTreePoem.pdf

The poem recently turned 50 and there was a great battle of minds published in the NY Times. The title of the article is, ‘The Giving Tree’: Tender Story of Unconditional Love or Disturbing Tale of Selfishness? You can read that article here, if you are so inclined –…/the-giving-tree-tender-story-of-un…

I particularly loved the title of this article because it is definitely how I feel, torn between two perceptions. While I don’t necessarily agree with the over-analysis in the opinions, I do agree with the title for it’s psychological question. If I read the poem as a mother, spouse, friend, etc, I think YES, I would give everything for the ones I love. But, then I take a second, step back and think, WHAT? Wait just a darn tootin’ minute, that little boy is obnoxious. How sad for the tree.

The relationship between the boy and the tree perfectly illustrates the relationship between givers and takers. But, as a majority of the population is probably somewhere between the two extremes, living more as balancers, the story becomes more idealistic, or dare I say, disruptive, depending on which end of the spectrum you lie.

Let’s do a little activity! Draw a line from Point A to Point B on a piece of paper. Make sure the line is a few inches long, and don’t worry, the longer the better. Now, label Point A with AUSTERE and Point B with GENEROUS. Finally, draw a rainbow shape over the dots, connecting them with a giant horizon. Alright, got it?

Let’s label this our ‘Spectrum of Giving’. Feel free to color it in! Doesn’t this make an easy visual to understand the variants along the line of our actions? It’s not always a straight shot in one direction either. We may go up and down, back and forth, fall off the grid for a moment, or not know exactly where we are in relation to either side, and find ourselves just up in the air somewhere.

The point is, the science of giving is complicated. Our relationships, ideals and motivators that guide us towards a choice to give are numerous and as wide as a rainbow. And, unfortunately, there isn’t always a pot of gold at the end.

*Mindful Moment – Now that you have created your own Spectrum of Giving, draw a custom mark where you are on the diagram. Next, draw a line where you want to be at the end of our journey. Does the distance between the two marks give you hope or overwhelm you? What ONE thing can you do today to move towards your destination?

*Grateful Graces – What are you thankful for today?


Continue to Day 3: A Spirit of Giving Unites.

Start at the beginning by clicking here.


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