It’s not WHAT you give, it’s WHY.


I don’t really know Jennifer Griffin all that well. We work together, but not in the same building. We exchange pleasantries when we bump into each other at work and at functions.

I may not know her all that well, but I know Jennifer loves Halloween. I also now know that I made her smile. In fact, I believe I literally made her day on one Wednesday morning last month.

So, I drew Jennifer’s name in our TV station’s “Spooked” game. It’s kind of like Secret Santa, but for Halloween. You draw a co-worker’s name, then decorate their desk with fake spiders, cobwebs and other spooky swag. You can also give them treats or Halloween-themed gifts.

If your eyes are rolling at the thought of this, like many people’s do anytime anyone mentions Secret Santa, just try to stay with me a little longer here.

I did not get to see Jennifer’s face when she discovered her freshly “spooked” desk. I didn’t have to. I knew how I felt when I found my own desk looking as if Halloween had exploded all over it. I was elated! I felt like a kid – and I felt good knowing I had made someone else feel that way.

Here we are, it’s only November and I am already bursting with excitement about December’s round of Secret Santa at my office. Let people roll their eyes. Let them call it a waste of time and money. I just don’t see it that way. This is simply an opportunity to do something nice for someone, without expecting anything from them in return.

Sure, you might argue that if you sign up for these things, someone will also draw your name and gift you. Technically, that means you are ultimately getting something in return. When you think about it, it’s really kind of selfish, isn’t it?

It IS selfish, because the whole part of the deal in which I am doing the giving is a bigger thrill to me than any physical thing I receive. It brings me joy.

I get that we are often expected to give, or asked to give more than we are able to, or give when we do not feel like it. If it is going to make us angry and resentful, or someone tries to guilt us into it, then it becomes people-pleasing rather than giving. There is a big difference.

When you do something for someone because you believe it is going to bring them joy or make their life better somehow, that is giving. If you are doing it to make someone like you, get them off your back or because it makes you look good, that’s people-pleasing.

Okay, that concludes my amateur psychologist rant.

In this season of giving, it’s alright to ask yourself why you are, in fact, giving. If it feels good and makes you smile, you are probably on the right track.





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