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Giving, Giving Back, Giving Forward

We’re constantly giving something to the rest of the world. Do we ever stop and take the time to determine what it is that we're giving?

I have a story that relates pretty well to this topic.

I was fortunate to get my start on the journey of seeing life from a different perspective, based on my early inclusion in a 12 Step community. I was 19.

Many of you know my story from reading my book. I was clueless, lost, trying to get my “you-know-what” together and doing my best to be better, live better, be happier, have confidence. The things we probably all want at some point in our lives.

I was NOT in a position, nor did I care about giving back at that point in my journey.

However, maybe I was giving back at that point and didn’t even know it. I’ll get back to that in a minute or two.

Luckily, 12 Step programs are based around giving back, helping, sharing. I was also introduced to a mentor, Budd, whose life was centered around giving back.

He was in his 50s at that point and had been enjoying the happiness, contentedness, and confidence of someone who’d been working on themselves for an extended period of time. He chose to actively give back and I was the fortunate recipient of those efforts for many years. I am forever grateful.

He gave more to me at that time in my life than anyone. His words, his way, his humility, his humor, his seeming ease with life … all of that taught me that it was possible to experience these things. Budd was giving freely, giving back, and giving forward.

Back to my story of “maybe I was giving back and didn’t know it.”

I was doing what people told me to do in those 12 step meetings. I was trying to share I was trying to be better, be honest, be helpful. I hung around people who were doing the same. It made me a little better and it also, hopefully, showed other new people that changing things up, to the meager extent that I could at that time, can be done. We can change, we can right the ship. We never know when our example is influencing others to embrace their journey, no matter where we are on our journey.

I believe we can all give back every day of our lives.

It’s important to remember this, every day. Who are we influencing and how?

At this point in my journey, I am compelled to give back. I am compelled to help where I can.

So let’s talk about giving back. Let’s share our stories. Our triumphs, our pain, our mistakes, our dumb decisions (of which I have a few), our experiences, our intentions, our lives. Even if as simple as a smile.

In my experience, the best way to give back, maybe the only way to give back, is to not be wrapped up in ourselves. How can we think about giving even something as simple as a smile, if we’re wrapped up in ourselves? Getting out of our own heads, wants, desires, puts us in a position to give, intentionally.

Giving back is always improving, always striving to be better. Not giving into the temptations that we know are bad for us. Thinking before acting.

What kind of example are we setting? For our kids, for our families, for those we pass on the street, for the cashier at the grocery store, for the server who might have messed up our order?

I heard it said long ago that we must always remember: Everybody’s coping, everyone has their bag of stuff that they’re dealing with. Are we adding to their bag or are we easing the burden of their bag?

To me, the way to be actively grateful is to give back. It’s about being the person to emulate.

We may give by accident, but it is giving on purpose and with purpose that nourishes our souls.

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