Gratitude, Giving and Generosity – part of Emotional Intelligence

How do you feel when someone gives you a gift? In particular remember a gift that you have really wanted, or a gift that has been handmade. Or how do you feel when you receive a gift from a child that they have lovingly prepared for you?

If you say that you “feel warm and fuzzy”, that you “feel good inside”, that’s a part of your brain that feels enjoyment or joy. Scientists have discovered that “feeling good” in such a way increases the levels of serotonin in the body. Serotonin has a part in mood, sleep, vomiting, sexuality, and appetite. Serotonin may also promote cell regeneration.

What is even more interesting is that scientists have also found that these same feelings can occur when you give gifts, not only when you receive them. And, seeing someone else enjoying an occasion can produce the same feelings – how else do you explain getting so involved in movies, especially happy endings?

6seconds, the emotional intelligence network, has a model that is in 3 main parts (called actions or pursuits), Know Yourself, Choose Yourself, and Give Yourself.  In particular I would like to focus on the Give Yourself pursuit.

When examining the Give Yourself actions, you can ask yourself some questions. For those who keep a journal, write the answers to the questions in it. If you don’t already keep a journal, you might like to consider writing the answers in your diary or a notebook for further reflection. Here are the questions.

Give Yourself

•         Am I leaving a legacy of good?

•         Am I healing or hurting?

•         Do I live the golden rule?

•         Will I die knowing I lived well?

The questions require of you some thinking about how things are going for you and those around you at the moment. How are your relationships at home and work? Are they lacking a certain something at the moment? Digging deeper to answer these questions for yourself may provide some clues for change.

In his famous meditation “No man is an island”, John Donne reminds us that we are all connected to each other. Each of us is part of a community, a family.

When you recognise your part in the larger community, a new awareness can form. An awareness that causes your decision making to take into account the short and long term consequences of your actions. You can begin to look outside of yourself to those around you and give yourself more fully to them.

Ah, but I hear you protest, “I don’t have money to give. You don’t know my circumstances, I have nothing”.

My answer would be: the best things in life are free. Let’s look at some ways you can take action that are free or almost free.

Gratitude

Start by being grateful for the things you do have. Gratitude is very powerful. Say thank you for at least three things in your life every day. Write them down where you can read them again if misery or sadness comes. Write them down even if you don’t feel like it – especially if you don’t feel like it! Here are a few hints for things to be grateful for:

•         Sunshine

•         Rain

•         A roof over your head

•         Food enough to sustain you

•         Family

•         Friends

•         Clothing

•         Ability to read and learn

The list could go on, but you get the idea. Don’t keep your thanks just for Thanksgiving time, be thankful every day.

Giving

What can you give? What is there that costs little but creates good?

Once again, some suggestions for you to try:

Smile – you’ve heard all about the smile, how it takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown. Next time you’re walking down the street, lift your head a little and smile at people. It is a reflex action in humans to smile back, although there are some that will resist smiling back at you. That’s okay – do it anyway.

Say thank you – look the shop assistant in the eyes and say a sincere thank you. When your partner does something like cooking a  meal, making a cup of tea or coffee, say a sincere thank you.

Give a compliment – you don’t need to go overboard here. Be sincere about the compliments you give. “That was a good talk you gave Jill. I especially liked ….” Mentioning some part in particular tells the person you were listening.

This part is particularly important with children. So often conversations with children, especially teenagers, runs along the lines of “have you done your homework, have you cleaned your room, where are you going at this hour?” Watch for something they do without asking, even something small like clearing up after themselves when they have been in the kitchen. Watch the way it changes your relationship and quite quickly.

So far, what has that cost you? A moment of feeling awkward maybe? Slight feelings of embarrassment? Could be that you will feel these feelings as well as the “warm fuzzies” when you start out. Keep doing it though and make notes about the reactions of people. It can be real fun!

Generosity

Give money, give gifts, give time. It need not be much. I will never forget when I was in my mid twenties and we had an older woman in our congregation. The woman was known for being quite grumpy. She remarked to me one day that she had nothing to live for. I was very concerned.

Fortunately, just that week I was attending a class in pastoral care, so I approached the teacher about her comment. The teacher was wise and said that a good idea was to spend some time with her. It didn’t need to be much, just an hour a week, have a cuppa with her and listen.

What a lesson I learned. Within a few weeks that woman was a different person! I had done so little from my point of view, but it was so important to her.

Jim Rohn, the business philosopher, tells a story of a visit to the service station for fuel for his car. There was a young man there washing windscreens and he did Jim’s car. As it was a warm day, Jim decided to buy his family an ice-cream and purchased an extra one for the young man. Jim tells how the young man was very surprised, saying that no-one had ever done that for him before. What did it cost? Two dollars!

Gratitude, Generosity and Giving go together and have an important place in your life. You can begin by doing one thing different each day or each week. Soon you whole outlook on life will be different and will make a difference to those around you.

Please let me know how your journey goes. I would be very interested to hear. Contact me by email: goingyourway [at] fastmail.fm or leave a comment below.

Resources:

The book, Emotional What? Emotional Intelligence for the rest of us, gives more information on this important subject. It can be downloaded from SmashWords here:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/9261 If you would like a signed hard copy, please email me and I will organise one for you.

My website for more information: http://www.emotionalintelligenceaus.com

Find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Emotional-Intelligence/265712876730?ref=ts

6seconds website:  http://www.6seconds.org/

Guy Finley: http://www.guyfinley.com/

Rachel Green: http://www.rachelgreen.com/

These websites have lots of free resources to assist you in learning more.

Jenni Wright is an accomplished international public speaker, trainer and coach. Her speaking engagements have included intimate small groups and range to 750 people. Jenni has also coached and counselled one-on-one. With experience spanning more than 30 years, Jenni brings fun and humour to her audience, yet teaching and training in important elements of emotional intelligence, personal development and wellbeing. Her focus is on relationships, teamwork and leadership. Jenni has a program for schools to assist in areas of reading, behavioural difficulties and bullying. Jenni lives in Adelaide, South Australia, and travels the world.

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