Inspirational writer Israel Ayivor once said, “Giving does not only precede receiving; it is the reason for it. It is in giving that we receive.” The practice of giving has a long and rich history that stretches back to ancient civilizations. In many cultures, giving was an important aspect of social and religious practices and was often seen as a way to demonstrate one's generosity.
Giving today is still an essential aspect of many cultures and societies around the world. We see it in our day-to-day lives, whether it's through volunteering time, donating money or offering support and assistance to others in the simplest forms. Most often we regard giving as its most literal definition, which is: offering help without expecting anything in return. We tend to forget, however, the underlying benefit of giving. We forget that giving is a small pebble that can ripple a whole body of water.
Giving can sometimes feel as though it only takes away from the giver, but in fact, it’s a fulfilling two-way street. While giving provides assistance for the recipient, it also makes the giver feel happy. It promotes cooperation and social connection, it evokes gratitude, and most importantly, it is contagious.
The world will never be oversaturated with goodness, and if the simple act of giving can trickle through communities and enhance the overall well-being of others then we should all strive for just that.
As I came up with the idea of talking about giving for my speech, the first phrase that came to my mind was “the gift of giving.” And to circle back to my opening quote, I believe that our unique capacity to lend a helping hand without asking anything in return is a gift itself. It is a gift because our ability to give offers us the opportunity to add meaning to our lives. A lot of us have or will eventually ponder the question, “How will my life be meaningful?” And while we currently may be attaching a lot of importance to either academic or athletic achievements to legitimize our sense of purpose, we should never lose sight of the simple yet powerful practice of giving.
Giving won’t pay your bills or get you an athletic scholarship, but giving will fill you with gratitude, fulfilment and purpose, all of which money could never buy. Kindness has the ability to ripple through our waters and change into bigger waves of good.
As humans, individuals represent 1 out of 7.8 billion of the world’s population. That number makes me think that we don’t have much substance or power when we stand alone. But instead, we should strive to look for purpose and meaning in interactions with the rest of the population, and giving can help us do just that. Our chance at leaving our mark in this life resides in the impact we have on the people around us.