Thanksgiving. We all celebrate it in our own ways, but what does the word “Thanksgiving” mean?
I (Alan) am no authority on the subject, but to me Thanksgiving is a combination of two words, thanks and giving. I think all of us tend to focus on the “thanks” part. We reflect on all the things to be thankful for. And we all do have a lot of those things, especially if we open our eyes and see the positive.
But I want to focus on the “giving” part of Thanksgiving here, and what giving has to do with happiness.
When we give something to someone, have we really lost anything? Recently, my daughter moved into her first house and I gave her all kinds of pots, pans, plates, and silverware. Did I lose those things? Not really; I wasn’t using them. I didn’t need them. And she benefited greatly by getting them. Everything equal, I think there was a gain for both of us. On my side, I benefited by helping her, and it made me recall with gratitude the times where others have helped me.
We all know the maxim that it’s better to give than receive, but why is that? It’s the receiver who receives something they would not otherwise have. But it is the giver who actually gets more than what’s been given. The giver gets happiness.
What does it mean to give? Is it simply a cash or material transaction, wherein the giver gives something of value to the receiver? This can be part of it, but value is not restricted to material gifts or donations.
The greatest thing a giver can give is one’s self. To help others when needed, or simply to help others when doing so would be . . . helpful. Yet it takes nothing from the giver. And returns the greatest happiness.
Enriching the lives of others does not make us poorer, it makes us wealthier.
On this Thanksgiving, let’s acknowledge and give thanks to the act of giving.
And I’m not talking turkey!
Alan and Alice