October is upon us. Days are getting shorter. Pumpkin spice is in the air (and in our morning coffee). Soon, we will gather with loved ones to celebrate another Thanksgiving. In my house, it is a tradition to go around the dinner table and invite each person to name the things they are grateful for. And when I’m sitting at a table laden with delicious food, surrounded by family and friends, the gratitude comes easy. And that gratitude stirs a deep desire to share all that I have with others.
We likely have the same things to be grateful for today that we will next Sunday, so why is an attitude of gratitude, and the resulting generosity, harder to hold onto when I’m in the middle of my everyday life? I think it comes down to perception.
Abundance vs. Scarcity
We all tend to subconsciously view our world through either a lens of abundance or a lens of scarcity. Those who see the world through abundance feel there will always be enough to go around, while those who don’t live in fear of not having enough. This mindset, whether one of scarcity or one of abundance, informs the choices we make and influences our behaviour. This idea became clear to me when I heard the story of a homeless man and a university student.
One autumn day, a student was waiting at the bus stop when she suddenly realized she had left her bus pass at home. A man was panhandling on a bench nearby and noticed the girl frantically searching in her purse. He shuffled up to her and asked if he could help. With tears in her eyes, she explained that she had forgotten her bus pass and needed to get to class. The man picked up his hat from the sidewalk and counted out a handful of coins. He handed her the exact fare for the bus. This man who had nothing, not even a warm place to sleep at night, gave without hesitation.
As the story of the homeless man shows, an abundance mindset is an attitude that prevails no matter what our outward fortunes might be. It doesn’t come from consciously examining how much money, how many possessions, or the amount of free time we have and deciding at some point we have accumulated enough to share. Instead, it is rooted in being grateful for all that we have, regardless of how much that might be. This attitude (or gratitude) adjustment frees us to give more generously.An abundance mindset prevails no matter what our outward fortunes might be. It doesn't come from examining our wealth, free time or if we have enough to share, instead, it is rooted in being grateful for all we have.
Give with an Attitude of Gratitude
When we view the world with gratitude, there are so many ways we can give:
- Skills & Resources: We all have unique talents and skills, and we can put them to work helping others. Help write a resume, mow someone’s lawn, bake some goodies for a fundraiser.
- Time: Volunteering is a great way to give back, and there are opportunities for almost every age and interest.
- Charitable giving in our lifetime: Sometimes, the best way to help people in need is by giving a financial donation. Consider being more intentional in your charitable giving by creating a customized generosity plan, which can include giving through gift of securities, cash or life insurance.
- Charitable giving in our estate: You worked all your life to build your legacy, take the time to decide how you would like your legacy to help others or the causes you care about.
- Kindness: We can be generous everyday just by being kind to others. Smile, offer a compliment, open the door for someone or let a car into your lane. It doesn’t cost anything to be nice.
And giving is good for us. Studies have shown that people who give their time and money to help others have lower blood pressure, suffer less from depression, live longer, and report being happier.
Give like it's Thanksgiving everyday!
Just imagine a world where we see all we have through the lens of abundance. A world where we have enough and want to share our good fortune with others.
This October, challenge yourself to wake up everyday with an attitude of gratitude. See all that you have instead of all that you don’t. Get inspired by others sharing their stories of choosing to live generously and then go out and make a difference in this world!
Contributed by Susan Yakabowich
Gift Planning Consultant