By ZAID MOHAMAD
The year-end holidays are here again. It’s the time of the year when malls are lighted up and trees decorated. Yes, Christmas is around the corner and with it, comes the tradition of gift-giving. To those who celebrate, they are looking forward to guessing and unwrapping of the gifts. In fact, in a culturally diverse society like ours, even the non-Christians are somewhat involved through the gift-giving exchange organised at many offices.
The fun begins when one anticipates what’s in the box. It climaxes when one receives what he or she wants. Yet, is it the act of receiving that creates the happiness, or is it in the giving?
Technically, we should be happy when we receive the new toys, the latest mobile phone or the lovely dress. But unfortunately, the happiness doesn’t last. A few months down the road, the toy becomes boring, the mobile phone is embarrassingly outdated and the dress, oh well, old fashion. What actually happened? Why doesn’t the happiness last?
We responded to the feeling by replacing the old with the new. We work harder to get a higher pay in order to buy more new things. We will feel happier for a while, only to repeat the whole thing all over again. It seems like our inner self is very hard to please. When we have a family, the problem seems to multiply as everyone’s needs must be fulfilled too. Soon, we will find that we spend most of our lives chasing that elusive happiness through acquiring bigger, better and more things.
The Feeling of Giving
If receiving only brings temporary happiness, let’s explore the feeling of the givers. Can you recall the last time you gave or did something to someone in need? What was your feeling at that time knowing that your small gift or gesture actually made a big difference to that person’s life? I am sure it was a great, ecstatic feeling.
In fact, this feeling motivates the giver to give even more. It may look strange but these people have no problem giving away their money and possessions to others in need. They seem genuinely happy, contended and willing to do it all over again.
The next time you see someone give something away, study their faces. Chances are, they are full of smiles even though they just parted with their hard earned money but for a good cause. The same cannot be said to someone who just got out from the bank servicing their new house or car loans though!
Giving Out A Signal
These people are happy because by giving what they have, they are effectively saying, “God has given me so much such that I have more than enough for myself. I am now able to give back the extra money or things that I have because there are others who need them more.” How can one be unhappy with such powerful thoughts?
The irony is, the more they give, the more they seem to get back from unexpected sources. Their careers flourish, their businesses grow and their lives thrive even more. It defies logic that says their wealth should be reducing at an alarming rate if they continue to give them away. But God sees it differently. When they say “I have more than enough for myself,” He answers their prayers by making it a reality. As a bonus, He puts lasting happiness and contentment in their hearts.
Giving, therefore, is a signal that reads, “I give, and therefore I am rich”; not the other way round. Do it more often and the signals will be picked up and rewarded with abundance and happiness.
The Gift of Time
Charity begins at home. We have worked hard all year round, and now is the perfect time to give something back to the family. It is not just about giving money, things and wealth. What the family really wants is the gift of time. A listening ear is heaven’s gift to a distressed child. A helpful husband is a joy to the tired wife. A smiling and loving parent is God’s gift to the tender kids.
Spend as much time together to rebuild the castle. Put aside all worries, stresses and deadlines and watch them smiles as they tease and joke with one another. Feel the negativities melt away as the minds and souls are being recharged.
Such is the power of giving. Let’s ensure that we re-create the balance in our lives through the joy of giving. Happy holidays everyone!