Our Give and Take on Giving ... and Taking
One of the small ironies of the current age of our self-occupied selfie-ing selves is that we all have the ability, now, to selflessly and effortlessly give of ourselves as never before in history.
Of course, we mostly give each other pictures of ourselves on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook, but hey...! Baby steps to self-perfection.
July is the month that we at Cymplify take a little extra time to think about our core value ... to GIVE, pointing our camera phones a little deeper than our own adorable puppy-eared snaps (as much as people enjoy getting those).
Here's our official GIVE core value description ...
We believe we get a lot from giving a little … (or a lot!). Give your time, your knowledge, your passion, your optimism, your stuff, your best self. You’ll most likely get it all back, and then some.
The Cymplify team's families spent much of July enjoying the summer together, and when we told Joel's daughter, Ariel (13), that this was our GIVE month, she volunteered her take, which we thought was fairly thoughtful of her, and fairly thought-provoking. Here it is (only slightly modified by her editors) ...
My parents have always told me, and tried to teach me, to give—to donate old things, help the less fortunate, reward someone who has done a lot for the community, share what I have learned, give someone my time and support, or simply give a hug to someone that needs it.
I try hard to always keep this in my mind, and heart, but I sometimes get so caught up in my own daily life that I have to remind myself. I think we all do, especially in our busiest times of the year, when we should probably think about giving even more, like now, in the middle of summer, when everyone is going to the beach, family vacations, and our friend’s houses. It’s easy to forget about the people that aren’t able to take vacations or have to work in the heat or still need our help in other ways. It can be as simple as bringing a lemonade to someone working outside that you’d like to show your appreciation to.
Half a year from now, at Christmas, when we probably think the most about giving, we can get so wrapped up in family and friend presents, and other festivities, that we might need to remind ourselves that this is a challenging time of year for lots of people, like those of us that can’t afford presents for their children or don’t have family to spend the holidays with or don’t go to their grandma's for a huge Christmas feast. We can make a big difference for these people too.
One thing my family does that I really like around Christmas is to create a giving advent calendar. Instead of filling it with chocolate or toys for each other, we fill it with things we can do for other people. Every day in December I wake up, open the calendar door for that day, and read that day’s “giving to-do.” It could be something simple, like compliment someone, hold the door for someone, or help someone clean up. Or it could be something bigger, like pick up litter on my neighborhood road, go through my closet for old clothes to donate, or create a gift for someone that needs it.
Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” In those times when we think so much about the needs of our own lives that we might forget that others need us, too, just remember that simple things mean a lot, and giving can’t be too small.
It can just be too infrequent.
— Ariel Cobden
Well said, Ariel. And thanks for giving!
We hear a lot of speak (and, sure, self-speak) these days about the coarsening of our discourse, the breakdown of cooperation and empathy, the hardening of lines between us and them, even the circling of wagons inside our small circles and ourselves.
Altruism is when we act to promote someone else's welfare, even at a risk or cost to ourselves. We have to sometimes wonder how altruistic humankind actually is and if our species is inherently self-interested—beyond being just selfie-obsessed.
In addition to Ariel's helpful, hopeful message from a 13-year-old, we found a couple of altruism "experts" with some similarly uplifting insights that might change your mind about humanity's state of mind and our prospects past this summer. In the spirit of giving, we offer up two TED Talks we think are well worth a view. (They're short.)
The first is from Matthieu Ricard, a 71-year-old French writer and Buddhist monk who resides at Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Nepal. His talk is about 16 minutes.
The next is from Abigail Marsh, an Associate Professor of Psychology and the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience at Georgetown University. Her talk is about 12 minutes.
If you're inspired to go out and give of yourself to others this summer, you can always share this article, to get the ball rolling. Or take a selfless selfie of you giving. That'd be nice too.