Even more important than the warmth and affection we receive, is the warmth and affection we give. – Dalai Lama
What does that mean?
In this season we are reminded how much better it is to give than to receive. While the little kids focus on what they get, the rest of us focus on what we were able to give. Gifts that are shared are doubly valuable , and that is what this is what the quote is emphasizing.
The other part of the quote is the specific gift, the gift of warmth and affection. It’s a gift that costs nothing, but means so much to those who are receiving it. And it also makes the giver of the gift feel so much better. At least that has been my experience. How about you, do you feel great after giving a gift, especially one of warmth and affection?
Why is giving important?
Giving is one of the things humans do best (after taking, that is, sadly). We give of ourselves and our treasures to others. Usually first among our closest relations, our family and friends. Often it expands far beyond that circle to our other friends and even our acquaintances. Occasionally it even goes out to strangers. Often it is done in the open, but sometimes it’s done as a mysterious surprise or as an anonymous donation.
In my experience (and I’ve done giving in all of these forms), it doesn’t matter who receives the gift, nor does it matter if you’re there or even know the recipient. The good feeling is there no matter what. Giving, in and of itself, is a gift both to you and to those you give to. Giving is almost as necessary as food and water, if you want to live a truly fulfilling and happy life. At least that’s the way it is for me.
Where can I apply this in my life?
As this post should be out on Christmas Day, you will probably have an opportunity to give the gift of warmth and affection to someone, I would hope. There are religious services, people in the neighborhood, friends and family, perhaps even a cousin you don’t like very much. Even for those who don’t celebrate this holiday, you can still give warmth and affection, right?
Greet the people you see warmly and as affectionately as appropriate. If no one happens to be around, call someone. Even something as simple as posting a kind and warm message via social media will bring a smile to a face somewhere on this planet. And you should feel a little better as well.
What about the rest of the year? Glad you asked. I would answer your question with another question. Why should giving warmth and affection (or anything else, for that matter) be limited to one day a year? Think about that for a moment.
That wasn’t a rhetorical question, but a serious one. Why can’t every day be Christmas (or whatever your favorite holiday might be)? It is my belief that we should be in the giving spirit every day, or at least we should try to be.
What can you do to help be in a more giving mood every day? Grab some paper and write down the reasons you haven’t been feeling very giving lately. This might include not feeling well, not getting enough sleep, being grumpy or cross or whatever else you might have been feeling. Make the list as long as you like, the more the merrier.
Now take a moment and look at the list. Circle all the items which are wholly under your control. Who chooses if you’re grumpy or not? Who decides when you go to bed? Take responsibility for your choices. Plan on making better choices about your attitude in the future. The only person you’re hurting is yourself, right?
Even if someone nearly wrecked you on the drive to work, will you choose to focus on that for the whole day, or let it go and focus on the important parts of life? Only you can make that choice. I would choose that which minimizes my pain and gives the most peace of mind.
Look at what is left on your list and think about how you can minimize the negative feelings and lift your spirits to the point where you can at least give someone a smile. Even if it doesn’t help you feel better physically, you should feel a little better inside, right?
There is an expression I’ve heard before, perhaps you’ve heard it too : “Give until it hurts!” With warmth and affection, will it ever hurt? There’s only one way to find out, isn’t there? Let’s try it and see. 8)