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25 Gifts That Don’t Cost a Dime

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Christmas Morning by J. ClarkWhen 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.

Every day…

  • 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.

At home…

  • 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.

4 responses »

  1. I love this post. It costs nothing or very little to treat ourselves and others kindly.

  2. Pingback: 8 Free Gifts to Give Our Children | Calm.Healthy.Sexy.

  3. Wonderful post. Another thing to include is to give up seats for other passengers in transit or let someone else ahead of you (if time permits) to go to the doctor first. One time when I was extremely ill a woman let me ahead of her in the waiting clinic. It was one of the kindest things a stranger had done for me.

    • That’s beautiful and a wonderful suggestion.

      As a mom with a toddler, I’m really glad for all the times I let mothers go ahead of me when I was still single. Sometimes a few minutes off a wait can salvage someone’s day. (Hopefully Thomas will calm down soon and I can start earning some karma back!)


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