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Day 02/12/2014

{ Generosity Is A Habit, Not An Achievement } Reflecting on Service to Others this Giving Tuesday …*

{ Generosity Is A Habit, Not An Achievement } Reflecting on Service to Others this Giving Tuesday ...* | rethinked.org

{ ARE YOU CELEBRATING GIVING TUESDAY?

Today is “Giving Tuesday,” which is an attempt to create a new tradition of generosity through a global day of giving back after the consumption frenzy of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give.

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. 

What I find most promising about Giving Tuesday is the opportunity it creates for us to reflect on generosity in our lives and which will, hopefully, prompt us to translate this awareness into ongoing action.

{ WHAT ARE SOME CONCRETE EXAMPLES OF ACTIONS DEMONSTRATING YOUR SERVICE TO OTHERS ?

Several months ago while piloting a tool that we are creating to help knowmads be more reflective about their experiences and learning, I was asked to give concrete examples of actions demonstrating my service to others. I’m ashamed to admit that I could not think of a single action to write down. This moment has stayed with me because it clashed rather brutally with this idea I have of myself as a fairly generous person.

{ GENEROSITY IS A HABIT NOT AN ACHIEVEMENT

The thing is, I have volunteered–in orphanages, women’s shelters, soup kitchens and language learning centers; I donate money to the various causes my friends are engaged in. This should all add up to something; I mean it all makes me generous–right? Well, no, not really. When I tried to identify examples of concrete ACTIONS that demonstrated my service to others, I realized the last time I had actually given anything in a way that I might qualify as “service to others” –as in given of my time in a consistent and meaningful manner over a significant length of time–was seven years ago, when in 2007, I volunteered twice a week at a women’s shelter. But generosity is a habit, not an achievement. I can’t trade on the service I performed nearly a decade ago to label myself as generous. It’s a bit like those awkward encounters you sometimes have with people you meet at parties who describe themselves as writers or artists but who never write or paint anything. Being generous, like being a writer or an artist, is about doing the work, putting in the hours, week after week, months after months, year after year. If you’re not giving, you’re not generous.

{ HOW MIGHT I MAKE SERVICE TO OTHERS A REGULAR HABIT? 

So today, in honor of Giving Tuesday, I’ve donated to an inspiring grassroots project which I recently read about and that, at the time, I told myself I would like to donate to “someday” —Survivors Ink. The project helps survivors of human trafficking who have been branded by their traffickers to reclaim their lives and bodies by providing funds to cover up the markings on their body. I hope you will check it out, spread the word, and maybe consider donating yourself.

I am also pledging three days of my work time to service (thank you, rethinked …*) as well as two full weekends. If you know of a good non-profit or grassroots project that could benefit from my help, please email me at elsa@rethinked.org.

Beyond a one time financial donation and pledging a week of my time, I want to make generosity and service to others a regular habit in my life. Rethinked.org regulars, you know what’s coming … a design thinking challenge–How might I make service to others a regular habit in my every day? Get in touch [ again, elsa@rethinked.org ] if you would like to collaborate on this challenge.

reflect, rethink & give …* 

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