Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Gift of Giving‏

In this season of giving, the greatest gift anyone can give is the gift of self. No matter what we have or don't have, each of us has the power to make a difference through one small act. Kindness, compassion and generosity are the most precious gifts we can share.

Every day offers opportunities to do something good - walking past a homeless person, lining up for a cup of coffee, sitting in a cafe, riding in a subway or driving through New York's traffic congested streets. 

We only have to open our eyes and our heart to see the stranger standing next to us. Kindness is a gift not just for those less fortunate. A smile of recognition, an acknowledgment that one is not invisible but seen and felt by another human being is an act of empathy and compassion that connects us to one other, a warm reminder that we are not alone in the world. 

Take a moment to look into the eyes of the person standing next to you and say a heartfelt "good morning," smile at your harassed waitress and say "thank you" with real appreciation, pay for your coffee and greet your barista by name. Ask "how are you?" and be prepared to stay long enough to listen open-heartedly to the reply. Ask your taxi driver how his day was. It will change the way you relate to someone to know how they really feel. 

Too often, living in the big city of New York makes us forget that we are all connected, like it or not. The Other is not just anyone else, it can be the person you see every day but have become used to seeing.

We are all related. What happens to one affects all the rest of us. Every act has its consequences in the matrix of life. The inter-connectivity between us makes us each other's keeper. 

In a world filled with violence and conflict, our gift to ourselves this holiday season is the gentle reminder to stay awake and see what is around us. Having seen what needs mending, we cannot go back to sleep. 

There has been a wave of stealth philanthropy with guerrilla giving, secret Santas surprising waiters with thousand dollar tips, or even a car, dropping hundred dollar bills into begging bowls of the homeless. 

There are also unsung heroes of compassion like Nipun Mehta, who started the movement of giftivism, the practice of radically generous acts meant to create a ripple effect that taps into the heart of One-ness and transforms the giver. 

The Jewish tradition teaches that even one small act has the power to transform the world and through our actions, we can be a force for good. We have a divine responsibility to be a blessing unto others, to spread the light of goodness out into the world. 

Kindness is contagious. It is compassion born of empathy that inspires positive action. Everyone doing a random act of kindness every day creates a culture of generosity with the potential to become a tsunami for good. 

Make a daily habit of kindness and spread it generously every single day of the year!

May you be a light unto others and bring about a new world order of kindness, compassion and generosity! 

Blessings to all!