Now that we bought all the goodies for ourselves during Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I feel it is time to discuss meaningful giving for the holidays.
First, I know it is hard. Some people are just really hard to shop for. Some people are not grateful. Some people want things too material for your standards (or budget). It takes a bit more time. But it is quite rewarding and I know we all want to add a little depth into our holiday conventions.
So I prepared a simple 4-step process that will prepare you to buy something meaningful for the holidays. Here we go.
1) Sometimes, it is easier to buy something that you want to give, than guess what they really want. By focusing on your compassionate intention, you can perhaps match it with a material item. So the first step we should do is to see how our intent of compassion can be implemented. I suggest that we focus on our rudimentary necessities. In a fundamental level, what do we all want? This is my list, as a reference, that is humbly nowhere near exhaustive but a good start.
We all want:
- To be Loved and to love
- To be cared and nurtured
- To be understood and to understand
- To be be attended to
- To be accompanied
- To feel satiated (satisfied)
- To feel accomplished
- To feel comfort and safety
As you see this list, try to understand that these are fundamental—at the base level—necessities. "Losing our fear," for example, is not in the list because we want to lose those fears to feel comfortable at the fundamental level. So as you evaluate this list, ask yourself if there is anything more basic than these and add them to your list. Once the list is complete, get your holiday gift list and let's get to work.
2) Give the recipient/s a call or speak with them in person (no texting for Pete's sake). Be attentive and listen to their predisposition (general or current). Ask them about life, love, work, current affairs, even politics (yes, even politics). Remove your need to judge and just listen with a bit of wonder and fascination. See where the conversation takes you and keep in mind the list above and see if you are motivated to provide the recipient with any one or more of the above principles. You can circle it in a sheet of paper if you must.
3) Once you have determined what you would like to provide to your recipient, find a material good that would match that particular principle. Obviously, you really don't need to purchase a material good to fulfill the meaningful task (hell, the fact that you listened attentively was probably a great gift as is), but it's the holidays and part of the fun is to buy material goods. Let's not escape our conventionalities for the sake of depth. We can do both.
4) Lastly, be prepared for the reaction. Remember the duality of gift-giving: Giving is Receiving. We all receive something from giving. It can be subtle or very obvious but there is no giving without receiving. So be attentive to how you feel when you see the person receive your gift. How does it make you feel? Do you feel like this exercise was worthwhile? Can you do this on other occasions outside of the holidays? How about outside the convention of gift-giving? After all, what you would have accomplished if you went through this exercise is a practice of compassion. Why not do this much more frequently (without the buying goods part)?
There you have it. My 4 step process to give meaningful gifts really is an exercise to reach out to another and yourself by listening attentively and fundamentally. It is fail-safe and worth-while for the holidays so go to it. Happy Holidays!
**Note** This is the final blog post for this blog until next year. I will continue to post on my Irthly-specific "The Story Behind Jewelry" blog the rest of the year. Enjoy the holidays.