Week 1, Day 4 – Learning the Basics
My grandmother had a beautiful spirit of giving. She thrived on helping others, in any way and every way she could. If it were hers and someone needed it, she released it to them. If she knew someone that didn’t have a place to eat over the holidays, they were going to show up at her table. She was the most generous person I knew; she loved to give so much, she passed away with thousands of dollars in credit card debt that was accumulated over years of paying for other peoples bills and indulgences. Perhaps you’ve been there, or you can think of someone similar to this in your own life.
Remember the spectrum we created? Well, drag that baby back out! Take a nice look at where you drew the point for Generous. Can you imagine how you would act / behave at that mark? Now imagine going over it, straight over the top, into overload. If you think Givers are a rare breed, Over-Givers are an even smaller one. But, that’s where my grandmother (and myself) lived for years. (Learn more about over-giving in this article – (https://www.psychologytoday.com/…/2014…/are-you-over-giver-1)
Some theorists believe these ‘over-givers’ have low self-esteem and feel they find their value by how much they give to others. While this may be true for some, and possibly even my grandmother, I grew up believing this was how to give. There’s that relativity thing again!
She was my role model and the love of my life for several years. I wish she were alive today so I could ask her what motivated her to give. I want to believe it was an act of virtue – simply, to see a smile on my face. A small way for her to show me her love, because that’s certainly how she made me feel. Was it because she felt connected with her friends, family and even strangers through her generous heart?
My grandmother was intuitive and mindful in her giving, always showing us what our relationship meant to her and how she ‘knew’ each of us with exactly what we needed, at the very moment we needed it. But, her giving wasn’t so wonderful for everyone. Her giving was destructive and disruptive to certain people in her life. There were some people that became dependent upon, expectant of, jealous, annoyed, bitter and even condescending towards her giving.
How does something so innocent and loving become so wild and corrupt? Was it for selfish motives? We learned yesterday we are created to give, because it gives us pleasure –was she addicted to the high?
A recent article in The Economist might help us find the answer. It describes a study where college students participated in a virtual game. The study revealed that at the end of the game, players were equally appalled by the selfish competitors as they were the self-less ones. The end sentence of the article really took me for a loop; it says, “Too much virtue was thus seen as a vice. Perhaps that explains why so many saints end up as martyrs. They are simply too irritating.” (http://www.economist.com/node/16843817)
Because generosity is something that is really done in austere levels within much of society, people feel threatened when these outliers show them up. As we mentioned the other day, when we measure our giving in numbers, we take count of not only our giving, but the giving of others. When the scale begins to tip a little too far by these virtuous givers, we start to examine ourselves through a comparison lens. And, we always want to keep ourselves on top, right? Perhaps that’s the real reason we don’t like the poem, The Giving Tree. It’s like witnessing someone from each side of the spectrum battle it out – who can give the most vs. who can receive the most. We find it exhausting and obnoxious.
*Mindful Moments – Yesterday we learned that a Spirit of Giving unites. Does today’s reading challenge or reinforce that idea? Can you relate it to something in your own life – past or present?
*Grateful Graces – What are you thankful for today?
To be continued…Day 5: Is Austerity Prosperity?
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