We’re about to enter the time of year when people start going a little crazy,
going into debt in order to appear more generous
with friends and loved ones at the holidays.
Yes, it’s craziness. But a very prevalent craziness.
I’ve been thinking a lot about generosity lately, because I hear from people who are frustrated that they don’t feel more generous, or they can’t be as generous as they want, and wonder what’s wrong with them.
Yesterday I went through a lot of old letters and notes that women have written me about their deepest frustrations. The heart-rending stories I heard repeated the same themes, over and over:
I just wish I could quit pushing so hard. I wish I could feel like what I do is enough. I wish I could stop making myself wrong. I wish I could just learn to relax and be OK. I just want to be real. What I really want is to feel like my life has meaning, like I have meaning – I guess what I really want is to feel appreciated, just as I am. I just want to be OK.
Is that too much to ask?
A light bulb went on.
I realized that we live in a culture of stinginess. We are acting like stingy people.
Oh, sure, we’re willing to go into debt to prove that were not stingy – but we’re throwing money at something that money will not buy, while avoiding or resisting the single – and very simple – meaningful gift we could give each other.
Let me ask you – how much would it change your day today, if someone you know called you up and said: “I was sitting here thinking about you and I just had this urge to call and tell you how much I appreciate you. Your energy, your light, your smile – I really appreciate you and am glad you are in my world. Thank you.”
Would that change your day?
How long would you carry that in your heart?
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard is – figure out what you really want, and find someone else to give that to.
What if you do that with appreciation?
A specific kind of appreciation.
Not appreciation based on results, or achievements, or externalized events.
Appreciation for who that person is, and for their presence in the world.
It would be amazing, wouldn’t it? It reminds me of the beautiful story of two tables of people having dinner. In the center of each table there was a kettle of soup. There were spoons to eat with – but they were odd spoons. The handles were very long, longer than the people’s arms.
At the first table, the people were starving, because they couldn’t get the spoonful of soup to their mouth.
At the second table, the people were happy, laughing and enjoying the soup – because they had figured out the simple solution. The long spoons were the perfect length to feed each other across the table.
There’s a reason why we don’t do this, of course. Perhaps you can feel that reason inside you, as I ask you to give another person sincere appreciation.
For now, I’ll keep this short and write about that tomorrow.
And for now, know that I appreciate you, and am very glad you are in my world with me.