“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” ~Khalil Gibran
Imagine what could happen if every person on the planet sought out ways to extend generosity and kindness just for one day—if meanness and selfishness took a day off.
My dear friends Richard Lang and Judith Selby Lang and I have been exploring the idea of #microphilanthropy—discussing ways to encourage individual people to do what they can, wherever they are, with whatever they have.
You don’t need a grant or a foundation, just a desire to do something to commit an act of microphilanthropy.
There are also no rules for microphilanthropy.
The following are Richard Lang’s suggested tenets for living:
1. The ball is always in your court.
It’s your world and even your smallest actions can alter events. You can’t complain about the world, it is what it is until you act and even then the results will be something you may not recognize. Start right where you are and you will be amazed at how effective you can be. Game!
2. All situations are neutral.
You assign meaning. How you handle pain, joy, grief, exhalation is up to you. Skillful means are required to give meaning. Don’t let your reactive mind shape the dialogue between meaning and results.
3. Just do it.
Every day. Do some little thing you love to do. Tiny bits add up and definitely amount to more than no bits. There are always “chores” to do, nevertheless make your art, make your mind, then make your bed.
4. Listen to the small voices.
Trust the whispers. Pay attention to what you glimpse out of the corner of your eye. It’s how you know what to do. Your furtive mind will offer many ideas that may become discounted because they are not practical, or remunerative, or, foolish in the eyes of others. Try some ideas out, they may become a signpost or a dead end but you won’t know until you act.
When you need help, comradeship, advice, or just something to eat, there is no shame in asking and you might learn something that you did not know.
Most people think of giving as an act that involves an object, a thing. It doesn’t matter why or when—a birthday gift or family heirloom—inevitably there is an object involved.
And yet my inbox is bursting with emails from clients and readers who are struggling with what to do about a gift they don’t want and can’t use.
The solution is easy—re-gift, recycle, or donate it if it no longer serves you.
Nothing freely given is ever meant to be a burden, but it often becomes one for many of us.
Why contribute to more stuff on the planet and possibly burden a loved one with something you hope they like or think they should own?
There are many ways we can show loved ones, neighbors and even strangers that we care. Here are five easy ones:
1) Spend quality time with them.
Turn off your devices and visit—shoot the breeze, sit in silence, take a walk. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you’re fully present.
2) Make them their favorite meal.
If you’re a lousy cook, you can either improve your skills OR order in. Either way, breaking bread (even gluten-free bread) is a great way to show you care.
3) Offer to babysit.
Whether you like kids or not, you know how exhausting children can be—you were one, once. Give the adults a break and take the little ones to the park, a show, or for a walk. Everyone will love you more.
4) Donate to their favorite charitable organization.
While microphilanthropy doesn’t require any money, Charity Navigator is a great organization whose mission is to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace. If you’re looking for a more macro way to impact the world, CN is a clearinghouse for organizations working to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges.
You could walk around the block picking up trash and recycling it or help someone cross the street to find the entrance for the subway. If you want something more organized. Volunteer Match will help you find local charities that could use your skills.
Together we can change the way we think and behave about giving.
We are in a world overwhelmed with stuff. We don’t need more things when we can share something far more valuable—our time, energy, love, and attention.