How to Give

Three Parts:Develop a Giving AttitudeEveryday GivingOut of the Ordinary Giving

A giving attitude is the first thing you'll need to develop if you want to learn how to give. Once you've adjusted your perspective, you can start thinking of everyday ways to give to the people around you and not-so-everyday ways to give to those who need a little extra help.

Part 1
Develop a Giving Attitude

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    Give without hoping to receive. Altruism is difficult to master, but if you want to give effectively, you'll need to adopt an “others-centered” attitude rather than a self-centered one. When you give, make sure that your heart is genuinely in the right place.[1]
    • This also means that you shouldn't give solely for the sake of making yourself look good. Glory is a type of gain, and while you may end up earning respect or admiration for your generosity, you shouldn't seek it.
    • Life doesn't usually work out exactly as planned. If you give only out of a desire to receive, you'll become discouraged when things don't work out the way you had hoped. Once discouragement sets in, you'll start finding excuses to avoid giving in the future.
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    Maintain a positive attitude. Believe in your own ability to positively impact the lives of others. Giving will be easier if you trust that your contribution will make a difference.
    • On the other hand, if you tell yourself that your contribution won't change a thing, it will be easy to start convincing yourself that it doesn't matter whether you give or not. You don't need to tell yourself that your gift alone will change the world, but you do need to believe that you can help.
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    Learn to trust other people. You'll need to have a positive attitude toward the recipient of your generosity, too. Trust that they will put your gift to good use instead of wasting it.
    • Trust doesn't have to be blind, of course. When it's possible to check on the way your gift will be used, there is no shame in doing so. For instance, when donating money to an organization, you might consider researching how much donated money actually goes directly to the cause that organization claims to promote. Knowing where your gift goes and how it will be used can make you feel more positive about the act of giving it.
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    Imagine the receiver. Think about how the intended receiver might react upon getting your gift. You might be more willing to give once you realize the impact your gift might make.[2]
    • This can be difficult when the receiver is a “faceless” stranger you've never met, but your imagination is especially important for this type of impersonal giving. Picture someone you do know in the receiver's shoes and try to personalize the gift that way. For instance, if you're giving money to a charity that helps children overseas, imagine how grateful the kids in your own family might be if they received help after experiencing the same sort of need the anonymous kids you're helping routinely experience.
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    Be thankful. Think about the blessings and gifts you've received in your own life. Becoming a more grateful person will naturally soften your attitude toward others, making it easier to “pay it forward” and give to others as a result.
    • Sit down and make an actual list of people, experiences, and things you feel grateful for. The list doesn't need to be long and you don't need to spend much time on it. The idea is simply to consciously work on nurturing gratitude in your own heart.
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    Spend time with giving people. Friends and family influence you more than you might realize. When you surround yourself with generous people, their giving nature might begin to rub off on you.
    • When you spend time with self-centered people, on the other hand, their negative beliefs might begin to impact your thinking instead. If you're having difficulty motivating yourself to give, a self-centered person would likely discourage you from giving, while a generous person might help you see the benefit in it.
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    Turn it into a habit. Giving gets easier with practice. Commit to giving habitually instead of giving only on occasion.[3]
    • The only way to turn giving into a habit is to give repetitively. Don't worry if it doesn't come naturally at first, though. If you need help getting started, write reminders for yourself and post them in spots you know you'll visit throughout the day.

Part 2
Everyday Giving

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    Provide support. When you have the ability to help someone through a difficulty, do what you can to see that person through it.
    • Sometimes, support comes in the form of moral support. When you have nothing else to give to someone going through a rough time, give that person some encouragement. Offer a listening ear, a smile, or words of encouragement. Help the other party distracted himself or herself long enough to calm down. Figure out what the other person needs to feel better emotionally and try to provide it.
    • There are also times when you might be in a position to give practical support. For instance, if your neighbor is struggling financial and needs a ride to the grocery store, providing that ride can support him or her in a very practical way.
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    Offer advice. Someone who turns to you for help might want nothing more than a little advice. Listen to the other person's trouble and offer your best advice when asked.[4]
    • Unsolicited advice should usually be avoided, though. Giving advice to someone who doesn't want it will usually make that person feel judged or looked down upon. You may give the false impression that you are trying to dictate how that person should live, and the other party could end up resenting you for it.
    • Always be honest when giving advice. If you have no experience with the difficulty the other person is dealing with or don't have any sound idea of what he or she should do, say so. Giving no advice is better than giving bad advice, even if that bad advice is well-intentioned.
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    Let them rant. There are also times when someone might tell you about his or her troubles without expecting any advice in return. During these instances, you should give that person a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.
    • Make sure that you are giving your undivided attention when your loved one needs you to listen. Diffracted listening seems insincere and won't give actually the other person the comfort he or she is seeking from you.
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    Give praise. Everyone needs a little encouragement sometimes. Giving an honest word of praise without being prompted can help boost the receiver's self-esteem and self-confidence, even on a bad day.[5]
    • The praise you give should always be honest, of course. Insincere praise can be perceived as an insult when it's caught. When it isn't caught, it might steer the recipient in the wrong direction by causing him or her to perceive and pursue a strength that doesn't actually exist.
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    Show patience. Even the best of people will have an “off” day every now and then. Do your best to be understanding and patient with someone in a bad mood. The gift of patience might be exactly what that person needs to calm down.
    • This can be difficult to do when the other person is pushing your buttons. If you find that patience is impossible, consider stepping away from person giving you problems. Spend some time calming yourself down before dealing with him or her again.
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    Grant respect. Respect is one of the most basic gifts you can give someone, but it's also one of the most important.
    • Essentially, this means treating the people you meet with sincerity. Don't answer seriousness with sarcasm. Stop yourself from rolling your eyes when someone accidentally makes a mistake or says something ignorant. Any action meant to demean or cut someone down should be left behind.
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    Give small material gifts. Even though material gifts aren't the most important thing you can give a person, a carefully selected present can brighten someone's day. The key is knowing what to give, when to give it, and how to give it.
    • Gifts that demonstrate personal knowledge of the recipient are usually best. For instance, if you know that the recipient has a favorite type of ice cream, giving him or her a carton of that ice cream on a bad day might be enough to make that person smile. When you can't think of something personal, go with something classic, like flowers.
    • Try to avoid gifts that could make the other person feel indebted to you, though. You also shouldn't make a big deal out of presenting the gift.

Part 3
Out of the Ordinary Giving

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    Find the right cause. Giving is much easier when you feel passionate about the organization, person, or cause you're giving to. Spend some time figuring out the best recipients of your time, money, and energy instead of giving indiscriminately.
    • You might consider funding a cause based on your own passions. For instance, if you love animals, consider giving to your local animal shelter or to a national organization that supports animals.
    • Alternatively, latch onto a specific person you admire and consider supporting the things he or she supports. Some people are more easily motivated by the relationships they maintain in their own lives. If that sounds like you, supporting the passions and beliefs of your loved ones might seem more motivating than supporting a faceless organization would.
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    Know your options. Most people associate “charity” with the act of giving money, but giving your time and energy can be acts of charity, too. Any resource you have is a resource you can give.
    • Give within your means. If you don't have a lot of money, giving your time can be just as meaningful. Likewise, donating money is a great way to give if your life is too hectic for you to spend time volunteering.
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    Start small. Instead of making a huge gift right from the start, give just enough to help yourself get used to it. If you jump into things too quickly, you might accidentally overwhelm yourself.[6]
    • If you're giving money, start by donating a small amount. Even $1 is acceptable in most cases. The point is simply to get started. After your first donation, gradually build on that amount each time you give to ease yourself into the practice.
    • The same principle can be applied to gifts of time. Start by giving up 10 to 20 minutes of your time for a certain cause. Gradually increase this amount each successive time you give.
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    Plan it out. Once you feel confident about the recipient of your generosity and the resource you intend to give, figure out how much you can actually afford to give. Determining an amount you feel comfortable with may make the act of giving seem more manageable and easier to continue.
    • This will require a serious look at your budget, schedule, or both. Formally organizing your life in this manner may seem like a lot of work if you've never done it before, but ultimately, keeping track of your resources will make it much easier to spread them out further.
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    Make giving your top priority. It might be tempting to give only after taking care of your other wants and responsibilities, but in doing so, you're telling yourself that giving really isn't that important. Giving before you do anything else will nurture a more effective attitude toward generosity.
    • When giving money, factor your donation into your monthly budget as a necessary expense. Write the check for your chosen charity as soon as you get paid instead of waiting to see what's left of your money after all of your other expenses.
    • When giving time, schedule it into your day. As soon as you know that your cause needs volunteers for an event, commit to helping, then work the rest of your schedule around that commitment.
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    Sacrifice something small. Consider giving up something you don't really need so that you can give a little more. The sacrifice doesn't need to be detrimental, but it should be noticeable.
    • For instance, consider giving up coffee on Wednesdays or fast food on Fridays. Set aside the money you save when abstaining from this little luxury and donate it to your chosen cause.
    • By changing your routine in a small way, you can continually remind yourself of the need to give and keep the cause continually on your mind.

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Categories: Philosophy | Positive and Reflective Lifestyles