The reasons we don't give regularly are as understandable as they are plentiful. We're all busy, and with our day planner filled to the brim and self-oriented needs taking precedence, it's easy to forget offering something for anyone outside of our immediate circle. Some of us may feel like we don't have anything to give in the first place—whether we're strapped for resources, time or emotional bandwidth. Meanwhile, many of us also feel overwhelmed by giving as a whole: we may be unable to commit to a full Saturday to help out at a homeless shelter or feel many of the world's problems are simply “too big” to be affected by one person's meager donation.
While all these reasons are perfectly valid and easy to empathize with, they don't have to be roadblocks—quite the opposite! That's because the key to giving regularly boils down to a shift in mindset. So, if you're serious about trying to increase your generosity, here are four ways you can fight even the most powerful internal myths.
1. Keep it Simple
While some people may be able to take a month off of work to help a person in need build a house, there are absolutely no rules that say giving has to be so grandiose. In the style of everyday giving, your gift can be as simple as picking up your workmate's favorite coffee drink while you grab your own, or making your Sunday potluck dish extra healthful by mixing in some of your favorite superfoods to share—transforming it into something that's delicious and truly healing. What a beautiful contribution!
2. Focus on Actions vs. Costs
The truth is, giving doesn't have to cost you anything! If you have a tree bearing lots of fruit this season, take a basket of fresh-picked edibles over to your friend's house. If you're sweeping your front sidewalk, sweep your neighbor’s side, too. Donate old clothes you no longer wear to charity or put some old books in a box on curb to perk up someone's day with a freebie. If you look for things to give, you'll be surprised by how much you actually have.
3. Think of the Rewards
Despite its name, it's been well-documented that giving is actually incredibly rewarding. The act of giving, and the idea of selflessly making someone else a little bit happier, stimulates dopamine production in the “gifter's” brain, promoting a greater feeling of well-being and satisfaction. One of the most recommended activities for individuals suffering from depression is to get involved in some kind of charity work, but even micro-level giving can have a similar effect as well. You will likely find that giving gives you more energy, not less.
4. Avoid Making Excuses
Feeling like the world's problems are too big to solve is not an excuse for inaction. That's because every positive impression matters. Will your $20 donation to a canine rescue center stop innocent animals from being euthanized? Not immediately, no. But it will help one more creature receive the care that it needs. Will bringing a friend a healthy snack to try help with their weight-loss efforts right away? Unlikely. But it may just be the tangible support they need to stick to their journey. You never know how much of a difference even your smallest effort can make, and its these actions combined that can ripple into something that can change the world for the better.