19 Dec The Giver Mindset: ‘Tis the Season
Being a giver is not an event—it’s a mindset. Giving requires release of control, letting go. And frequently, people just can’t. And I don’t just mean giving to family and friends. I mean giving to strangers. People in need.
With all the political and economic factors at work in our environment today, there are many, many people for whom the simplest of needs are not being met. The chasm between the haves and the have not’s has never been more dramatic, with the very richest owning and controlling a greater percentage of the aggregate “wealth” available than at any time in history. People don’t have to be in the top 1% to give. In fact, low to middle income givers share a dramatically larger percentage of what they have with others than those at the top.
Why don’t people give? People attribute powers and beliefs to money that just don’t exist. They are looking to find things in money that are not and never will be there. They look to money to provide them with security, or power, or provide evidence of success, or love. And money cannot deliver—at least not in a sustainable manner.
What is the relationship or correlation between money and happiness? Many people believe that their problems would be solved if only they had more money, if only they had “enough.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist who has written extensively on money and happiness, has reasoned that “to the extent that most of one’s psychic energy becomes invested in material goals, it is typical for sensitivity to other rewards to atrophy. Friendships, art, literature, natural beauty, religion and philosophy become less and less interesting.”
How sad is that? Is it really a good trade off to have money and few or no good friends? The wonder of artistic talent and statement loses its magical ability to captivate and bless you in the gifted expression of the artist? Natural beauty does not take your breath away with the awe of creation surrounding you every day? Literature, philosophy, thoughts of great thinkers, stories, intellectual breakthroughs, reading and learning lose their ability to expand your mind and transport your perspective—because money has a hold on you? Religion holds little or no interest, the spiritual concedes to the financial. According to Mihaly, seeking money as the reward comes at great price, one the purchaser must consider.
And has the pursuit of money come intentionally or by default? Mihaly has also observed that wealth, like many good things, is beneficial in small quantities, but it becomes increasingly desired and ultimately becomes harmful in large doses. I have worked with affluent families for almost my entire professional career. I have NEVER met an unhappy giver, regardless of how much financial wealth the giver controlled. I have met MANY people with financial wealth who do not feel secure enough, fulfilled enough, successful enough, loved enough, or powerful enough. Perhaps this is the year is the time to try something new. If in your heart you are part of the group that is still chasing enough, why not try something different? Give some money away to people outside the circle of close friends and family. Start small, experiment, see if peace and contentment, even joy, don’t follow. The giver and the receiver will both be blessed. See what happens to your mindset. I am confident your giving will not be an isolated event.
Blessings to you during this season of giving!