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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

Put More Focus on Giving Versus Getting

I have known some tremendous givers during my career. People who put way more focus on their giving than they put on their getting. The funny thing is, if you paid close attention, they were always getting as well. The famous statesman and prime minister of England, Sir Winston Churchill, once said, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”

Research by social psychologist Liz Dunn and her team which was published in the journal Science reveals that people’s sense of happiness is greater when they spend relatively more on others than on themselves. They surveyed over 600 people in the United States and according to their data, spending money on others predicted greater happiness whereas spending on oneself did not, and this pattern continued across all income levels. So, even those with fewer resources reported greater happiness when their proportion of spending on others relative to self was greater.

Do you spend more time on what you are getting out of a personal relationship or on what you can give to it?

Famous leader Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Do you spend more time on what you are getting out of your job, such as your salary, or on how much you can give to the receptionist, to your boss, to someone in another department, going that extra mile for your customer? Do you spend more time on what you are getting out of a personal relationship or on what you can give to it? Ask yourself, how can you give more this week? Take a moment now to think of all you can give to people.

You can give to people who are stumbling or stuck by giving them a nudge to take action when they are scared or complacent. You can give to people by really listening to them. You can give to people by stretching them in what they believe they can be and do and have. You can give someone money or time or knowledge. Don’t forget, giving or being of service is giving to others what they truly need and want, and not simply what you want to give them.

You can also give to yourself. Sometimes–many times–we overlook that in our giving to others. Maybe you give time to family, church, community, but don’t take any time for yourself. Perhaps taking an hour walk just for you would be a great gift to give yourself.

Can you give more this week to others and yourself than you did last week?

Here are a couple of things you can do:

1. Keep track of your giving this week with a simple list or create space in your journal so you can record it and review it. Remember, you make a living by what you get, and you make a life by what you give.

2. Ask the people you meet how you can support or give to them, instead of assuming what it is they want. Give time, money, respect to yourself as much as you give to others.

3. Take one day this week and focus on giving to people who you do not expect to receive anything from in return.

4. Take a significant part of one day this week and give it to yourself. Any needs or demands from family, business, and the community should go on a different day. Write down how you felt about what you did and how you felt at the end of the day.

5. Pick something you enjoy that you haven’t done in a while, such as reading for pleasure, going for a walk in a park, watching a movie, having coffee with friends, or simply spending quiet time by yourself.

For more resources, sign up for Tony’s Monday Morning Coaching Memo.

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