Gifts are who we are | Letters to the Editor

Gifts are a delightful part of the Christmas experience. The root of the English word “gift” dates back to the Germanic language of the 14th century and meant a special talent or something given without any conditions.

The gift is an act born out of affection and offered with respect for our fellow human beings. If one feels in any way forced or obligated to give, then the significance of the exchange is diminished.

The essential motive behind giving is the reverent act of caring. When received in grace, the gifts awaken the spirit of humility and benevolence within. Gifts build or strengthen relationships.

The donor may want to satisfy a sense of obligation, express appreciation, or rejoice in the contentment of contributing to the happiness of others. The receiver experiences the excitement of something new and perhaps unexpected.

There is an advantage on both sides. The joy of giving and the happiness of receiving are two sides of the same coin.

Psychology Today has published two related articles on its website. One, dated October 20, 2015, titled “Small Acts of Generosity and the Neuroscience of Gratitude,” says that generosity and gratitude go hand in hand and create an upward spiral of well-being. Small actions start the loop.

Citing various studies, gratitude has been identified as a fundamental common thread in the fabric of our society. Everyone involved is positively influenced. There is such power to be given, even the accidental observer experiences optimism and hope when they see a helping hand extended to the needy.

While a wrapped and ribboned token is recognized as a gift, acts of compassion and caring are also gifts in their own right, also valid for promoting the cycle of gratitude and generosity.

Your cheerful phone call or encouragement to discouraged people is a precious gift in the best sense of the word. By initiating acts of support, care and concern, you yourself become the gift. Your goodwill and positive feelings are as precious gifts as anything that could be presented.

Gratitude is appreciation for what we already have. It is an atmosphere of gratitude that we create by thinking of the many people, places and things that support life, even the bodies we are born into and the oxygen we need.

With regular practice, the mood can become an attitude. Value your resources, both divine and human, and soon your disposition becomes bright and sunny. The optimism generated lightens our outlook with friends and strangers.

Generosity can result from a feeling of gratitude. Recognizing our own blessings generates a willingness to give. Giving, motivated solely by the well-being of others, is the essence of our humanity and underpins the spirit of Christmas.

In the other Psychology Today article, published on December 25, 2012, titled “The Evolutionary Biology of Altruism,” the author concluded, “Science proves that our genes and brains have evolved to be compassionate, cooperative and foster the community. Hopefully the science presented here reinforces what we already know intuitively. Being selfless and kind to one another benefits us all.

During this holiday season, ponder your blessings and embrace the cycle of gratitude and generosity.

In addition to giving away the traditional hardware items, we can offer service and support. Maybe we could also bring compassion and cooperation to our business. Please donate, for this is the foundation on which our communities thrive. The gifts are who we are.

Brother Vijai Sadal

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