The Three Gs: Gratitude, Giving and Generosity

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The Three Gs: Gratitude, Giving, and Generosity

( Jenni Wright 2008

How do you feel when someone gives you a gift? In particular remember a gift that you have really wanted, or a gift that has been handmade. Or how do you feel when you receive a gift from a child that they have lovingly prepared for you?

If you say that you “feel warm and fuzzy”, that you “feel good inside”, that’s a part of your brain that feels enjoyment or joy. Scientists have discovered that “feeling good” in such a way increases the levels of serotonin in the body. Serotonin has a part in mood, sleep, vomiting, sexuality, and appetite. Serotonin may also promote cell regeneration.

What is even more interesting is that scientists have also found that these same feelings can occur when you give gifts, not only when you receive them. And, seeing someone else enjoying an occasion can produce the same feelings – how else do you explain getting so involved in movies, especially happy endings?

6seconds, the emotional intelligence network, has a model that is in 3 main parts (called actions or pursuits), Know Yourself, Choose Yourself, and Give Yourself. In particular I would like to focus on the Give Yourself pursuit.

When examining the Give Yourself actions, you can ask yourself some questions. For those who keep a journal, write the answers to the questions in it. If you don’t already keep a journal, you might like to consider writing the answers in your diary or a notebook for further reflection. Here are the questions.

Give Yourself

* Am I leaving a legacy of good?

* Am I healing or hurting?

* Do I live the golden rule?

* Will I die knowing I lived well?

The questions require of you some thinking about how things are going for you and those around you at the moment. How are your relationships at home and work? Are they lacking a certain something at the moment? Digging deeper to answer these questions for yourself may provide some clues for change.

In his famous meditation “No man is an island”, John Donne reminds us that we are all connected to each other. Each of us is part of a community, a family.

When you recognise your part in the larger community, a new awareness can form. An awareness that causes your decision making to take into account the short and long term consequences of your actions. You can begin to look outside of yourself to those around you and give yourself more fully to them.

Ah, but I hear you protest, “I don’t have money to give. You don’t know my circumstances, I have nothing”.

My answer would be: the best things in life are free. Let’s look at some ways you can take action that are free or almost free.

Gratitude

Start by being grateful for the things you do have. Gratitude is very powerful. Say thank you for at least three things in your life every day. Write them down where you can read them again if misery or sadness comes. Write them down even if you don’t feel like it – especially if you don’t feel like it! Here are a few hints for things to be grateful for:

* Sunshine
* Rain
* A roof over your head
* Food enough to sustain you
* Family
* Friends
* Clothing
* Ability to read and learn

The list could go on, but you get the idea. Don’t keep your thanks just for Thanksgiving time, be thankful every day.

Giving

What can you give? What is there that costs little but creates good?

Once again, some suggestions for you to try:

Smile – you’ve heard all about the smile, how it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown. Next time you’re walking down the street, lift your head a little and smile at people. It is a reflex action in humans to smile back, although there are some that will resist smiling back at you. That’s okay – do it anyway.

Say thank you – look the shop assistant in the eyes and say a sincere thank you. When your partner does something like cooking a meal, making a cup of tea or coffee, say a...
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