Is It Better to Be Generous or Be an Over-Giver?

In the December 2011 issue of Oprah, there was an article called Confessions of an Over-Giver written by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Love, and Pray. Yes – now famous because of her book and the blockbuster movie of her book. In the article, she talks about how her new found fame also lead to new found wealth. Now who would not want that?Pretty sweet I would say. She states that she has always been generous and a giver but this new found wealth also allowed her to give EVEN more! Elizabeth helped her friends get out of credit card debt, helped them get caught up on their mortgages, helped fund big dream projects, and even bought them houses. In the process, she had so much fun, Elizabeth described it as a “drug-like pleasure.” However, she lost some of the friends she blessed. Not because of money but Elizabeth goes on to say that she robbed some of those friends of important life lessons. What a great article to spur on reflection!

It makes me think of those lottery winners, you know the ones who win big bucks and then a year later are either in the same position they were at or maybe even worse. Why is that? Poor planning you may say. Unsure what to do with what they have and unsure of how to make it bear more fruit. What happens to these people? Do they suddenly kick back on the sofa and say life is sweet I no longer have to do anything?


  What happens to their drive or motivation to improve their lives? What happens to their creativity thinking when trying to make things work out in their relationships, businesses, or jobs? What happens to their donation of time, service, or talents? Don’t get me wrong. Do I like what money can do for me? You bet. Do I share what I have yes.  Yes, I do think it is important to give! Do I over-give? Yes, I have caught myself too.

In the Spirit of Christmas Shoebox Campaign that I spearhead with my husband, we have been approached by many to give more and do more. There are many lessons learned in the simplicity of recreating Christmas morning by feeding a school a pancake breakfast and providing each child a gift of a shoebox. Simple gifts can mean big things!!! This year we gave out 1234 shoe boxes. Children were most excited about toothpaste and deodorant something many of us may take for granted.

The greatest gift was given back to us was when a 9 year old autistic boy who had never smiled for his teacher’s aid or showed any human contact (like a hug or handshake) showed Santa his beautiful Christmas socks and gave him a hug and smiled. The teacher’s aid stood in tears as she captured the picture for his mother who did not have a picture of him smiling – not even with Santa. My eyes filled with tears as this precious little boy shared his smile. This Christmas that mother was going to receive a picture of her baby boy smiling with Santa. You can give but the best part of giving is receiving the simple gifts in return. Yes, could we do more? Sure. But I think everyone needs to step up and make a difference in their own way and be generous! You could change a life and it could be yours.

Are you going to be generous with the things that matter most? Money is a vehicle to do it. You must determine how much is too much! Give wisely! As Elizabeth Gilbert concluded, give until it helps!

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