When I was at my most anxious, I drove like a mad woman, weaving back and forth to get to the front of the line of traffic. I rushed to the shortest line at the grocery store. And I made sure no one ever made it to a parking place before I did. After all, my time was valuable and my needs were important.
As I’ve recovered, I’ve had a chance to revisit the bad habits I developed—habits of putting my own needs first without thinking about the needs of others. Rushing through life requires a kind of tunnel vision. When I constantly move from place to place and task to task, I don’t have the time or attention to see what’s going on around me.
But a spirit of giving requires attentiveness. It means slowing down so I can see others and notice what they need. Here are a few ways I can meet those needs, if I take the time to notice they are there.
- Greet someone with a friendly word.
- Wear a bright outfit and a smile.
- Put aside one urgent thing (like cleaning the toilet) in favor of something important (like spending a few minutes with a loved one).
When you’re out and about…
- Arrive five minutes early so no one has to wait.
- Let someone go ahead in line at the grocery store.
- Return someone else’s shopping cart.
- Hold the door.
- Say “thank you.”
- Give a compliment.
With your friends or family…
- Give your complete attention when someone else is talking.
- Listen—don’t advise—a friend in pain.
- Write an encouraging letter to a friend who could use the support.
- Make a phone call to an elderly relative or a friend in need.
- Take an extra portion from dinner to a sick friend.
- Serve someone else the best portion of meat or the biggest cookie without calling attention to it.
- Do someone else’s chores without being asked.
On the road…
- Wave at a driver who lets you over or yields to you, especially if she didn’t have to.
- Wait for another car to turn out in front of you before you turn right—if it’s safe to do so.
- Leave the parking spaces closest to the store for people who need them more than you do.
- Always clear the way for ambulances and fire trucks, even if it means missing a light.
For the less fortunate…
- Even if you choose not to give panhandlers money, treat them with friendliness and charity.
- Visit a nursing home or hospice care center.
- Donate buy-one-get-one toiletries to a women’s shelter.
- Donate blood.
- Take all the clothes you don’t use to Goodwill, especially clothes that are still in good repair.
How do you make a giving spirit a part of your life? Let us know in the comments.