Generosity has a significant impact on wellbeing – it has positive effects not only for those who receive, but for those who give. It is a sure way to strengthen our individual coping skills, build relationships, and support our community. Giving prompts us to look beyond ourselves, to consider the perspectives and the needs of others. Our sense of meaning and purpose in life can be boosted when our giving aligns our areas of strength with others’ areas of need. Whilst the most obvious ‘gifts’ may be material, the most powerful ones are the gifts of our time, our words and our presence.
For anyone who has experienced the disappointment of opening a beautifully wrapped but unwanted gift, we all know that not all gifts have a positive impact. Being carefully attuned to others’ needs and wants is key. How can you ensure then, that your gift of time, words and presence is positively received?
Start by considering someone close to you with whom you have a positive relationship, and ask yourself these key questions:
How are they doing and how do I know?
Curiosity is key – pay attention to the signs they show when they are doing well, and the signals that clue you in when they are struggling.
What do they need?
Once you have a sense that someone is in need of support, it can be easy to jump to giving advice, or prescribing the ‘answer’. Taking more of a ‘coaching’ approach may be more effective.
What can I give?
The ‘sweet spot’ is where your strengths align with another’s needs. How aware are you of your own strengths? Are you also aware of your limitations? Sometimes after listening to a loved one, we may empathise with what they are going through, but may not have the knowledge to offer a solution. Helping to research and pointing them in the right direction is a gift too!