Giving as Gain

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Someone important said that long ago, but I think every generation has the opportunity to discover that truth in new and fresh ways. 

But let’s start with the obvious…the math of giving doesn’t seem to work – at first anyway. 

If I’ve got $100 and I choose to give $10 to someone else, I’m pretty sure I’m left with $90. If I’d bought something with the $10, I’d now have $90 plus the thing I bought. 

But through the act of giving, I’m left with $90 and…what? A warm feeling? A surge in self-esteem? Is that all that is meant by the “blessing” of giving? Warm feelings?

Well, here are at least three reasons I think you can rightfully view giving as gain.

Giving shows the value (and limits) of money. Money is great, and having no money is certainly no fun. But one thing I’ve seen in friends and clients for years is the reality that more money often leads to less happiness. 

“Enough” money meets your needs and allows you to live life on your terms. Much more than that can, for some, be more burden than blessing. 

“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get,” says Ben Carson, “but from what we give.” 

Ah, there’s a hint. Happiness. What a shock to learn that more money doesn’t necessarily make us happier. In fact, in come some cases, it makes us cranky, fearful and cynical. 

Sometimes we unlock the door to happiness, not by getting more, but by giving more. Why?

Giving puts the price tags back where they belong. It was Winston Churchill who said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” 

Getting draws a circle around ourselves and meets the needs of everyone inside. Giving expands the circle, expands the needs met and in doing so, the happiness made possible. 

The highest price tags in life don’t belong on things, but on people. Giving has a way of switching the prices tags so they reveal what is truly valuable. 

Giving expands your heart. George Bernard Shaw wrote about his own sense of gain from giving, “This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy…I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.”

Henry Ford said it succinctly, “To do more for the world than the world does for you – that is success.” 

Our founding fathers recognized the most basic rights given by God to man as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Everybody agrees with life and liberty, but too many try to substitute “accumulation of wealth” for “pursuit of happiness.” Sometimes, along the way, as riches increase and satisfaction decreases, these people realize their mistake. 

If you think that might describe you, you may want to listen to the words of a brain surgeon, a prime minister, a playwright, a titan of industry…and a carpenter from the middle east.

Giving is gaining.

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