It Really is Better to Give Than to Receive

I confess I have been a bit slack over the Christmas period, as well as not jumping straight on to the New Year’s message bandwagon. I have however, enjoyed reading other people’s insights and experiences.

One of my favourite stories to have emerged over this time of giving and receiving was about the couple in Northern Ireland who won a record-breaking £114,969,775 lottery prize. You may well have seen the headlines and realised that the story is not about how much they won but how they plan to spend it.

They are going to give the vast majority of it away to friends, family and a few favourite charities.

Wow, what a way to begin the year!

Whilst it is of course, always lovely to be given a beautiful gift by someone you love, it is surely true that it is even more pleasurable to be the giver of the gift and watch the recipient’s face light up and often be overcome with emotion at the sheer thought that has gone into such a gift, or the effort it must have required to produce it.

So, if I am going to yield to the temptation of giving you a challenge for this New Year, how about this for size:

What could be the best thing you could give to someone else?

It may be a gift that costs you a fair bit of money but it could also be something that requires your time, energy and thought.

Or simply means giving your very best in such a way that will truly bless that other person.

Why Winning Does Matter

A couple of days ago, I read an article that said how the word “win” finds it roots in both joy and grace. I love that! But what does that really mean or more to the point, what does that even look like? For those of you for whom life is simply one seemingly endless triumphant display of winning, then you probably don’t need to read any further but may I suggest you store this piece of writing somewhere safe for that day when for whatever inexplicable reason, life is suddenly not going the way you planned anymore.

For the rest of us, let’s take a moment or two to ponder this possibility of truly ‘winning’ with joy and grace side by side. Forget the normal concept of winning in this world. I am not talking about what the social-media-mad world of ‘must haves’ would have us believe such as trophies of sport, property, cash or even for some, significantly younger spouses. No, despite the external and often temporary sense of satisfaction and pleasure such things in life can bring. I am talking about winning in life, in spite of the lack of those things at times, and sometimes the complete absence of them for an entire lifetime.

It has been said that the primary difference between joy and happiness is that the former is not dependant on the circumstances we may find ourselves in. And as I have studied it deeper, I have discovered for myself, that true joy comes from being thankful for all that you have and all that you may come across on a daily basis.

joy-1So, joy flows from being thankful and being thankful is a demonstration of your genuine appreciation of the gifts you both possess as well as those things that you now come to appreciate – however ugly they may have first appeared to be. Think of anything that is a factor in your life that if you are honest, you would rather be without. Then, when you get beyond that level and go into real gut level honesty, you can begin to see how even those things, those major inconveniences can be a gift.

And the gift is called grace. However you prefer to perceive the universe and the created world we live in, grace is all around us, if we will but stop, think, look and be thankful. As the line goes in the sublime U2 song, “Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”

So this time, assuming you’ve spent some time since last week being thankful for the people in your life, why not spend just a few minutes being thankful for even the stuff that has been sent to test you to the absolute limit? You know the stuff I’m referring to but perhaps no one else does. It’s your life, your joy and grace that is stake. Together, they will help you to win, whatever the odds against you appear to be right now.

Grace