You don’t need to be a religious or spiritual person to tap into this higher purpose; it can be derived from a sense of community and a desire to pull together. Yet without such a higher purpose where all this love and ambition can be directed, we don’t have a very useful guidepost for meaningful success.
What do you give when you’re burnt out? This is a question I’m dealing with at this moment. I’ve spread myself as thin as I can and I just don’t have the time or resources to give more. And so I find myself at a loss, with barely enough time to even write this blog post.
I think I’ve found an answer to my issue. I can count my blessings and reflect on the gifts I have. See, giving myself makes me very very happy. I like being busy, I like helping people, I like seeing my friends, donating money, etc., but right now I can’t. For me what’s second best is thinking about the gifts in my life. So that’s how I’ll think about giving tonight: I’ll think about the gifts in my own life.
In Adam Grant’s Give and Take, the author defines three types of professionals: There are givers, matchers, and takers. Givers are people who “help whenever the benefits to others exceed the personal costs.” Matchers strive “to preserve an equal balance of giving and getting,” believing that one’s relationships “are governed by even exchanges of favors.” Finally, takers are those who believe that in order to succeed, they must be better than others, so they try to get more than they give.
Providing weighty anecdotes to demonstrate his principles on givers, matchers and takers, Grant easily makes the case for why being a giver is superior to being a taker. I find it more difficult, though, to be convinced that there is anything wrong with being a matcher. I’d guess that for most of us, matching is a natural code of conduct for relationships. Matching ensures that we feel our relationships are fair and it makes us feel a true sense of responsibility to others. Sure, matching may not be the key to climbing to the top of any professional ladder, but it sure seems like a great way to get pretty high up there. So what’s the downside?
I like to think that when someone close to me recommends I read something, it’s probably worth reading. When two people close to me recommend I read something, it’s definitely worth reading. The two people who know me better than anyone else, my mom and my sister, have been telling me about this Wharton professor, Adam Grant, and the research he has done into the benefits of giving in the workplace. My mom took it upon herself to send me a copy of his book, Give and Take, and so I find myself only in the first chapter and already provoked, questioning, and hooked.
I think I’ve always been one to give. I live by the philosophy that if I’m asked to do it, and I can do it, then I should do it. The moments when I choose not to do the thing I’ve been asked to do are the moments I realize I’m a selfish person. This mode of thinking is something built into my system, and can probably only be attributed to Jewish guilt.
One thing I have had a very hard time with in the last few years has been trying to understand why others don’t feel the same way I do. Though I don’t consciously say to myself every time I support a friend’s cause, “I am doing her a favor, so she owes me one,” it seems that I end up thinking that nagging thought just about every time. On a regular basis I’ll find myself thinking “wow, that person is so selfish to not donate. I donated, after all.” And then I proceed to feel guilty over just how self-righteous I can be.
There’s one voice inside my head saying, maybe you don’t need to give anymore, and then you won’t be annoyed with others who don’t give. But then the rational side of me (hopefully the winning side) just says that I need to get over it.
I need to find a way to give without expecting anything in return, without expecting good karma to spread another inch around me every time I give an elderly person my seat on the bus.
Nothing cracks me up like reading articles about my generation. Sometimes the media can make it seem like us Millennials are a mythic beast, waiting to be figured out, with secrets to be unlocked. It seems every day there is a new article trying to expose us, telling the public how we think, what we eat, wear and buy, how we love, what we care about, and so on. But finally I read one that isn’t so far off.
I’ve been reading a lot of articles online lately that seem to share some of my sentiments on why it’s good to be a giver, and the guilt we feel from spending our money on over-priced luxury items.
Here are a few for your enjoyment: