Maya Angelou on Giving

“That day, I learned that I could be a giver by simply bringing a smile to another person. The ensuing years have taught me that a kind word, a vote of support is a charitable gift. I can move over and make another place for someone. I can turn my music up if it pleases, or down if it is annoying. I may never be known as a philanthropist, but I certainly am a lover of mankind, and I will give freely of my resources.” Letters to My Daughter, Maya Angelou

Do we take enough time to really take a look at our life? The beauty in simplicity can be astounding, but in an increasingly complex world, it can be so easy to lose sight of the essence of joy.  We bind ourselves to what we believe we ‘ought to do’ in a way that distracts us from more intrinsic thoughts, from deeper contemplation.

Maya Angelou’s words themselves, are simple, yet too, hold so much power. The message is alive with a glow of love, of deep understanding of the universe and our place in it. There is appreciation, gratitude, and humility— within her words there is a recipe for a more enlightened life, if we’re ready to listen.

What’s most interesting? She immediately begins with ‘giving.’ Her thought, “I could be a giver by simply bringing a smile to another person,” is so incredibly easy that it almost seems de facto, but when we’re so focused on making it through the day, that we don’t allow ourselves to radiate peace, and we likely share our discontent.

As Angelou points out, every interaction that we have with someone is an opportunity to do right by that individual, and when we do, it feels good. We feel good, they feel good, and the world shines a little brighter in that moment. We don’t have to give riches, just resources. A little dash of the abundance of good that lives inside of us that’s ready to be shared.

Imagine over the course of a lifetime, if we continually practiced these ‘free gestures’ of kindness and goodwill; not only do we inspire others, but we become more whole within ourselves, developing that essence of joy, that can only come from giving ourselves to others in a healthy and positive way.

The next time frustration sets in from any of the nuances of day-to-day life, try a smile, or a kind word or gesture. Start small, it may feel uncomfortable at first, but as it becomes second nature, it will be a proud achievement personally, and one that can, most wonderfully, create positive change in everyone else around you.



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