Betty W. Phillips, Ph.D., Psychology
Home | About Dr. Phillips | Forest Garden Office | Reading Room | Advice Line Articles | "Office Staff" | Other Services | Psych-mobile | Choosing a Therapist | Affordable Therapy or Life Coaching | Dedication

The Joy of Giving: to Yourself, to Others, to the World

           The Joy of Giving: to Yourself, to Others, to the World 

Although this article is being published in December, my message is not about Christmas presents. There is no “Ho, Ho, Ho” to be found in this article. Instead there is a profound message of truth and happiness for you.  True giving will bring you absolute joy and likewise will assist others on their paths to happiness. I’ll begin by describing the principles which are key to this type of giving. This article echoes a theme discussed in many of my previous articles: the path to happiness is living in states of positive vibration rather than negative vibrations such as fear and anger.


The greatest, most wonderful and sublime state is the state of unconditional love.  This is agape or spiritual loving kindness, not eros or romantic love that we’re talking about here. We aspire to experience this type of love as often as possible, although in our earthly lives we are not able to remain in this pure state. Spiritualists describe angels and other heavenly beings as residing permanently in the beauty of unconditional love. Religious leaders of all denominations have called us to this state. Christianity (1 Corinthians 13:13) tells us “So now faith and hope and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.”  It is fascinating to me that different translations of this Corinthians verse use the words love and charity interchangeably. Love for ourselves and others translates into the joy of giving which can also be called charity.


We sometimes forget that unconditional love and charity include love of ourselves as well as others.  Christian religious heritage commands us (Mark 21:31) “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Buddha teaches that you must love yourself before extending that love toward others. “You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” We are all members of one humanity and in that sense must honor and give to ourselves as we give to others. When we deprive ourselves, we become depleted and resentful, finding ourselves in a state of negative vibration, unable to experience positive joy within our shared worlds.


A related principle is the fact that the power of love and giving must be heart-based, not negotiated only through the mind.  The spiritual heart is the source and repository of love and joy. The mind  by itself is not capable of feeling emotions. You can teach your heart to resonate with love and joy. It’s been scientifically proved through the Institute of Heartmath by breathing in and out through your heart center, visualizing a cherished love object, then feeling the love radiating from your heart throughout your body and out to others around you.


You can learn to transmute anger and negativity into love as the alchemist transmuted base materials into gold. As humans we are not capable of avoiding negative feelings. Circumstances of life catch us up into states of negative vibration. If we remain in these states we cannot experience love or joy, and our mind will continue to torment us with negative thoughts and resentments. To transmute means to turn the negative energy of the emotion into a positive higher state. For example, anger at the politicians who allow homelessness and starvation can be transmuted into the joy of giving food to the needy.


The last principle I want to mention here is to remember the origin of our humanity in the natural world. There is a rhythm of life and compassion for living things within the natural world. We can feel pure joy as we interact with nature and its plants, animals and other human beings. So let’s remember to turn off our electronic and other distractions which pull us away from our original nature of empathy and compassion.


As we aspire to live our lives within these principles we will find ourselves experiencing the pure joy of giving to ourselves and others. Let’s aspire to this on a daily basis, not just during the Christmas season. Giving does not have to be a present, nor money, although these are appreciated when appropriate. Giving can be time and energy and loving kindness, not just volunteering your time in an agency.  You can give to yourself with a warm bath, and you can give to your children when you read them a story at bedtime. Giving can be loving thoughts, prayers and meditations.  With all the heart ache and chaos in this world, giving can be prayers for peace and ending wars. Giving can be signing petitions. I find myself on a number of petition lists lately, helping diverse causes from removing toxins in our foods to saving our whales and dolphins. Giving can be joining with others to improve the life conditions of other people or animals in this world. I find myself admiring the joy of giving I see in causes mentioned on the Chatlist such as organizations to help special needs children or to build fences to free dogs from chains.  Let me know if you want to sponsor needy individuals for therapy sessions; I’m developing a program to accept contributions. January will arrive after Christmas with the opportunity for New Years Resolutions.  We don’t have to wait for January; we can start today, living in our hearts and in a state of unconditional love and joy.