Chérie Carter-Scott, Ph.D.
No question about it.
The real question is, are you a “Scrooge Negaholic” when it comes to buying gifts for those you love?
Do you have conversations in your head about:
• What they bought for you last year?
• What you should buy for them?
• What you should spend on their gift?
• What you shouldn’t spend on their gift?
• Whether they deserve anything at all from you?
If you are having conversations about gifts like the ones listed above, then it is time to address your strain of Negaholism.
No one is born with the generous giving gene. Giving is something that is learned over time from exposure to generous, thoughtful, and intuitive people. Giving is developed when you take the time to listen, to observe, to discover what someone really wants.
Choose the three names of people you have had mental conversations about, and write each one’s name on the top of a blank piece of paper. Then write down everything you can recall that you have given or done for each of them throughout the last year. Remember to include tangible and intangible gifts, random acts of kindness, as well as unique and fun experiences. If you can recall your gifts, it means that they were memorable, however, if you can’t recall them, it means that they blended in with the fabric of life and were easily forgotten. Take note of those gifts that you feel represent your spirit of giving. Ask yourself what circumstances surrounded the procurement of the gift. Ask yourself what contributed to the special nature of the situation. Recall any features that impacted the situation, timing, selection, or the sensitivity to the moment. Recalling these moments helps you validate what has worked and learn from what hasn’t. Awareness of what worked in the past is the first step in discovering your generosity for the future.
If this “Memory Lane” exercise didn’t work for you, here is a Present Day exercise called, “Know Thy Friend.” Take one person, your best friend and complete the Gift Giving Profile on either him or her. When you are complete rate how well you know this person.
Gift Giving Profile
Name of gift recipient:________________________________________ Date:_________
His/her favorite color(s): _____________________________________________________
His/her hobbies: ____________________________________________________________
Items which could augment a hobby:____________________________________________
Sports s/he likes:____________________________________________________________
His/her favorite pastime is:____________________________________________________
Types of music s/he likes:_____________________________________________________
S/he likes to read:___________________________________________________________
His/her areas of interest:_____________________________________________________
Things that s/he feels are needed professionally:__________________________________
Things s/he feels are needed personally:_________________________________________
Frivolous things that s/he would enjoy:__________________________________________
Things that are worn out and need replacing:_____________________________________
Things which would stretch him/her to a new level in some area: _____________________
Wishes, hopes, or dreams which you could encourage______________________________
Special items s/he would think were fun:_________________________________________
Special items s/he would think were amusing:_____________________________________
Things s/he likes to taste:_________________________ smell:_______________________
Things s/he likes to listen to:___________________________________________________
Things s/he likes the feel of:___________________________________________________
Things s/he likes to see:______________________________________________________
Things s/he likes the look of:___________________________________________________
Things for self-development or education: ________________________________________
Art s/he likes:_______________________________________________________________
Something good for work:_____________________________________________________
Something good for travel:____________________________________________________
Useful travel items would be:__________________________________________________
Custom made items that would be treasured by him/her:_____________________________
Desirable article(s) of clothing:__________________________________________________
Jewelry Preferences: stones:____________metal:_____________setting:______________
Furniture style and design:____________________________________________________
Gadgets that would be enjoyed:________________________________________________
Antiques that would be treasured:_______________________________________________
Practical items that would take some stress out of life:________________________________
Plants which are appreciated:___________________________________________________
Types of flowers or plants:_____________________________________________________
Favorite store to receive a gift from______________________________________________
Of the 40 items, how many did you know? Give yourself 2.5 points for every blank you filled in. Then score yourself. Do you think you know the person well? Did some of the items remain blank? The key here is really knowing who your recipient is, understanding what gives them pleasure, and what their preferences are when presented with choices. If you can answer all these questions accurately, then you know your person very well. Congratulations!
If you had difficulty answering the questions, then perhaps you need to get to know this person better. Perhaps you want to give him or her a subscription to a website where you can learn more about them…
You don’t have to overspend to give generously. Giving is about opening your heart and listening to the message that connects you, the giver, with the receiver. Giving can be creative, and find ways to bring a smile, ignite a twinkle, or touch the heart. When you change the way you see something, the way you define something, or when you put two seemingly unrelated items together you exercise your creativity. Creativity is looking at a challenge with new eyes so that you derive solutions that were not readily apparent before.
Generosity flows from you when your cup is full. Some people are naturally generous, while others must learn it. When the spirit of generosity has been ignited there is no end to the goodwill that you will spread to others. Generosity begets gratitude. The generous-grateful cycle is a spiral of positive energy exchange. The ultimate outcome of giving the right gift is creating joy and pleasure in the spirit of your receiver. The ancillary result is nurturing your relationship; the right “match” is made, your recipient experiences gratitude for you knowing, and understanding who they are and respecting their preferences.
This holiday season, don’t restrict yourself to a financial black box, but rather allow your generosity to manifest through giving creative gifts…magical moments…the gift of time…the gift of care…the gift of yourself.
If you enjoyed this article, you might want to visit www.drcherie.com and see our documentary (bottom right) and look at our online bookstore for The Art of Giving e-book, ready for you to download immediately.
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©MMS Institute, LLC 2011