What Happens When You Start Giving More Than Taking
This post—and my recent life shift that it’s based on—was inspired by, of all things, the show “Queer Eye.” If you ever want a quick ego check, watch an episode. They tend to feature individuals who live for others—individuals who have very little sense of I or me, but rather of us. They’re often stories of individuals who were abandoned by the very community that is meant to be there for you (your family, you religion…) and who, rather than becoming angry, did what they could to make sure that as few people as possible ever had to go through that again. I think of an episode about a young transgender man whose family and religion rejected him due to his identity, who now has turned his humble home into a LGBTQ community center—it’s a small home, but he wanted to open it up to people like him. I think of an episode about a woman who turned her home into a hospice, giving up every room—including her own, she sleeps on the floor—so people could pass somewhere peacefully. And when I hear of these stories, I suddenly feel silly for obsessing over how many people hit like on my Instagram post. There’s nothing more worthwhile than helping others, and on that note, here is what happens when you start giving more than taking.
You feel your life is abundant
The funny thing about focusing on giving, is that you suddenly realize how abundant your life is. When you come from a perspective of, “How do I get more?” you always feel lacking. When you shift that perspective to, “What can I offer others?” you suddenly realize you have a lot.
You discover new skills
When you find a person or cause about which you are passionate—and that you really want to help—you discover new skills out of necessity. Whether it’s finding donors or fixing up a community space that’s falling apart, you learn how to do it. You are driven by your desire to help others, and that drive helps you discover skills you didn’t even know you had.
You feel less anxious
If you often feel anxious, it could be because you focus on what you don’t have. You focus on those who you perceive as having more than you. You feel like you’re in a rat race, and making no progress. How could one not feel anxious with a mindset like that? When you start, instead, to think of how you can improve the lives of others—rather than just your own—you may find your anxiety subsides.
You stop pitying yourself
Focusing on yourself—your desires, your wants, your goals—can leave you often pitying yourself. It’s important and healthy to have goals, of course, but when you only focus on your aspirations, you’ll always come up wanting. When you start helping others more, you’ll be amazed at how much less you pity yourself.
You feel a sense of purpose
If you feel you don’t know what your purpose is on this planet, you may quickly find it if you start giving back. Start thinking of how you can help those around you—patronize your friend’s small businesses instead of the big chain ones, think of ways to connect friends who could work together—and you won’t feel lost. You’ll know you’re perpetuating good. If you wait for your own big goal to pay off (like, become a famous author and open a non-profit) you can feel you aren’t serving a purpose for a long time.
You see how resourceful you are
When you ignite your sense of generosity, you discover how resourceful you are. It’s funny: when we’re working on our own goals, feelings of guilt or selfishness can get in the way of us asking for favors and pulling resources. But when making that call and asking for that investment can fund a good cause or somebody else you believe in, you pick up the phone—no problem.
You learn about others
Those in need are often very proud, and may not even tell you how much your help would mean to them, until after you give it—unsolicited. But when you do begin, on your own, to just think of ways to help those around you, you may hear some heartwarming stories. People may then tell you just how impactful your help was.
You realize how knowledgeable you are
You may not realize how much wisdom you’ve acquired, until somebody else who doesn’t have that knowledge needs it. Maybe you offer to mentor someone, or hold a seminar, sharing what you know on your industry. You don’t know what a wealth of wisdom you are, until someone wants your wisdom.
You find the other givers
A new group of people may circle around you when you start being a giver, and that’s other givers. Before, you probably operated within a group of individuals with an every woman for herself mentality. You all just saw what you could get out of each other. Now you’ll find the group who looks for ways to give to each other. It’s much nicer to work with this group.
Jobs may just come to you
There is no guarantee of this, but it is common that, when you stop hunting down opportunities for yourself, and instead focus on creating opportunities for others, opportunities find you. People see you doing good work for others, and think of you for job opportunities.
You spend less money
When you start focusing on helping those who have less than you, two things happen: 1) You feel bad spending a lot of money on superficial things and 2) You get so much joy from helping others that you don’t need to buy fleeting experiences like nights at bars and concerts.
You feel a bit silly
When you’re fully in giver mode, you’ll reflect on the way you used to be, and how sorry you used to feel for yourself. You’ll feel really silly—and maybe a little sick—over how selfish your perspective was, and how much time you wasted not tapping into the joy of generosity.
You feel accomplished
You’ll feel more accomplished than you ever felt when you were just pursuing selfish goals related to the ego or to money. You’ll probably be amazed at how easy it is to feel accomplished if you just focus on accomplishing things for other people, rather than for yourself.
You feel connected
It won’t happen every time you help someone, but often, you’ll see a little spark. You’ll bring out a little light in someone. We’re all running around like zombies, so focused on ourselves, that we forget we are all experiencing very similar things. When you do something generous, you get a moment to connect to someone. You get a peek into their life, and you take a little joy in the joy you gave them.
You get more than when you took
The biggest irony of all is that you’ll probably start to receive more, as a giver, than you did when you were a taker. Before, people knew you were a taker, and they avoided you. They approached you with a mindset of, “She’s going to try to take something, so hold on tight.” Now that you’re a giver, others see you and they want to do nice things for you.