01 Dec Inhale Gratitude. Exhale Generosity.
“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.”
― William Arthur Ward
Well, if you are a calendar watcher, today is the first day of December and that means there are only a certain number of days until a variety of holidays. Take your pick: 24 days till Christmas, 16 days to Hanukkah or 26 to Kwanza.
No matter your celebration, the first day of December signals the start of something and it is usually stress. Just at the moment you are clearing the Thanksgiving plates someone is dragging holiday decorations down from the attic and your mailbox is full of catalogs with this season’s most popular gift ideas.
This year I tried to do a little bit of preplanning to prepare for the starting gate of holiday cheer. I don’t mean getting my holiday shopping done on Black Friday or making cookies and freezing them, but I did practice some deep breathing.
I spent November intentionally inhaling gratitude.
I read every article, clicked on each blog post and followed friends on social media who were posting daily gratitude quotes and photos. I thought if I was intentional about gratitude during November, I would be better prepared for December.
Along with all those catalogs my mailbox is filled with requests that require generosity. If you spend any time in this Causes section you know that Southwest Florida has some amazing people doing extraordinary work around issues that are important to us personally and as a region.
In my work at the Southwest Florida Community Foundation I am amazed without ceasing by what we accomplish together through generous gifts and acts of service. Many of the people I talk to about their generosity express they are acting from a place of gratitude. I still keep a copy of a check that was given to me years ago by a man experiencing homelessness that got back on his feet and wanted to give back to the organization that had helped him. He gave as an expression of his gratitude.
Recently a donor to the Foundation opened a scholarship fund because she was grateful for a scholarship that made college a reality for her from a woman she never met. The catalyst of her action was a thankful heart.
A local couple started a Donor Advised Fund last week to use as their philanthropic checkbook. They deposited money into the fund to grant out in gratitude for the services their son received from a mental health organization, as well as to their alma maters for which they said they feel indebted to for their educational opportunities.
And, our team met with a retired couple who are planning their estate with a special focus on their philanthropic giving as their legacy after they are gone. They care about the welfare of all animals as they referenced their appreciation of their beloved family pet who saw them through some tough times.
People have many motivations for giving, but in my experience they all come from a place of gratitude.
So, I practiced deep inhales of gratitude in November so I could exhale generosity in December.
No matter which holiday you celebrate, December gives all of us the same 31 days to practice generosity. It doesn’t need to be monetary. It can be a generous gift of time, a kind word, or act of kindness. If you are looking for ideas to get things started you don’t have to wait long on this month’s calendar. Tomorrow, Tuesday December 2nd is Giving Tuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. Charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.
Check out their website GivingTuesday.org for opportunities to participate on a local, national or global level.
And remember, just keep breathing. In with gratitude, out with generosity.