The Write Life: Giving Before We Take
“Happiness doesn't result from what we get, but from what we give.”
Ben Carson was clearly aware of what he was saying when he mentioned what his source of happiness is. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work as Director of Neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital, work that requires more giving than receiving.
The man clearly gave of himself before he got.
Our reaction to this is understandably skeptical. Most of us would believe it altruistic or unrealistic to do give unconditionally because the person we give to is blissfully unaware of our efforts.
After all, we are human and need little pats on the back, at least occasionally. But our humanity aside, writers need to give, at least a little before we can take.
A. Understanding the meaning of giving
Perhaps we need a better perspective on what giving is.
For anyone, including writers, giving calls us to lose focus on ourselves. It calls us to suspend any notions of getting anything in return for what we do.
We tend to see it as a transaction because anything we do for others takes energy that needs replenishing. This is a human need, one that is completely understandable.
But, if we see giving as a chance to go beyond and to nurture ourselves as writers, giving is more palatable.
A. Why we should give before we take
1. The likelihood of reciprocity is higher
2. We should show an example of the treatment we expect for ourselves
3. It prompts others to give as well
4. Giving before we take builds bonds.
5. We lose our self-centered nature.6. It is important to thank.
7. If everyone offers their gifts, the world has much to.gain.
B. Why we should give before we take
All writers will empathize with how frustrating it is to comment and read other articles frantically without receiving any feedback on their own work. Believe me when I say that I shake my head nearly every day.
It is hard to feel that the likelihood of reciprocity is higher when we take the time to read another writer’s work, but it is. It takes time, but others do eventually return the favor if we show sincerity.
We should always show examples of the treatment we expect for ourselves. If we do not give a little, that expectation cannot sink into the minds of others.
Giving before taking builds bonds and trust. Most will trust a writer who takes the time to give honest feedback.
When we give, we lose our self-centred natures that make us insular. If everyone offers their gifts, the world becomes a huge buffet table from which everyone can take.
Pay it forward!
How to give before we receive as writers
1. Put aside expectations.
2. Think of it as self-expression.
3. Think about your own willingness to give.
C. How to give before we receive
We know that reading, feedback and interaction is a critical part of the writing process.
Giving as a writer means putting aside expectations of others commenting, reacting or bolstering us in any way in return.
We have to think of it as s chance to express ourselves. What better way to stretch ourselves than with a crafty, creative comment?
Then, we have to think of our own willingness to give as well. If we really cannot bring ourselves to comment, do not. It only breeds more frustration.
We must also bear in mind those who have taken the time to give to us and leave generous comments behind, or we become guilty of not reciprocating ourselves.
A return comment on their work is a gesture of appreciation and a way to cherish the writing gifts that they offer as well.
To you, what part of giving has the most meaning?
E. The Giving Tree
I leave you with my cinquain version of The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein’s well-known work. I do hope that you will enjoy it.
That sheds its leaves
To cover other souls
So often stripped to its barest
What about you? How do you feel about giving as a writer?