They strode side by side, a tall man with a scruffy elderly man. From their amiable chatter you’d guess they were close friends or perhaps relatives. In fact they just met earlier in the nearby park. The elderly man was ecstatic for the companionship and the invitation to share a warm meal. You see the park has been the elderly man’s ‘home’ for the last 4 years. As fate would have it the tall man’s evening route brought him to the park and united the two. The tall man visits this neighborhood weekly to comfort the ill-fated people congregated here from his homeland.
For him being concerned for others is as natural as breathing.
This realistic tale was inspired by a friend’s experience with the inherently communal culture of Moroccans and Berber hospitality. Discovering this anomaly I asked myself;
How can more of us develop this natural habit of giving and supporting others?
To explore this idea further, I decided to actively grow this giving habit in myself. This November my objective was to spend a half hour to give or support someone each morning from Monday to Friday. This quickly transformed into the November Giving Challenge, which I encouraged others to take part in. In the end there were over 76 visits to the challenge page from 9 different countries. To my knowledge there were over 10 people who contributed to the challenge. This included a teacher in the US who had a 10-minute giving challenge in her classroom. Perhaps the biggest success came from participating in the periscope #AttitudeOfGratitude live event.
As this adventure is coming to an end I’ve started doing a bit of deeper reflection. From all the lessons learned I'll highlight a few of my discoveries.
- Many of us already give and support each other (i.e. knowledge on the Internet)
- There are countless ways both online and offline to support one another
- In communities with common values/interests there is a higher likelihood of giving
- We can develop a habit of giving and supporting others
What was actually inspiring to realize is that many of us already give and support each other on a daily basis. A great example of this is the knowledge we share online. Especially prominent is the support in online communities that share common interests and/or values, such as personal learning networks of educators like Edumatch or the BCN startup slack community. It would be interesting to explore how these communities can be linked together to tackle global problems?
The Giving Comfort Zone
Another big success was seeing my personal growth. The last weeks of the challenge ways to support and give often popped up naturally. I think this is because my perspective had been opened up and I was more willing to go beyond my 'comfort zone'. Many of us are more than willing to support family, friends, or people within our personal communities. This is what I mean with our 'comfort zone'. Helping strangers outside of this 'comfort zone' is a struggle. The tough reality is that those who truly need support are either far from where we live or outside that ‘comfort zone'.
You all have the power to develop the habit of giving and supporting others! The first step is realizing that we all share challenges and we must come together to deal with global challenges. Also you can become aware of those around you and listen attentively. Even starting small can be great! Going past November you all have the chance to evolve your Breath of Giving.
Links & Relevant Posts
November Giving Challenge
SΩ12 - Our Global Impact
SΩ13 - Think, Give, Love (Holiday Gift Ideas)