You can’t give something you don’t have.
OK, so the title is a little over the top, but bear with me for just a bit and I think we will get there. One of the foundational principles by which I have always lived is to be committed to not ever being a burden on anyone else. I am horrified by the thought that I might be a burden or an obligation on someone else.
I believe that the greatest gift I can give to my fellow human beings is to not be a drain on their resources. I prefer those resources be used in creating a better world for everyone. I take care of myself so others do not have to take care of me. I may not be able to live up to that 100% of the time, but I try. There are times when it can’t be helped. Circumstances sometimes overtake us, but for the most part this is within our control. What at a wonderful world it would be if everyone followed this principle. I truly believe that.
Over the last year or two I have failed to live up to my commitment. Yes, I have let myself down and I have become somewhat of a burden on those I love. I let my health go bad. I had always focused on financial or other types of burdens, and forgot about my health. Health burdens can be one of the worst burdens you can foist upon others both from a financial and a time perspective. However, I have turned the corner on that issue and if I have anything to do with it, it will never happen again.
I raved about Tim Brownson’s e-book in my review yesterday. While reading that book, I was reminded of this topic in his lesson #2 – Who is the Most Important Person in the World to You? Tim answers that with YOU. I couldn’t agree more.
The point he and I both are making is that if you aren’t around to give, then you aren’t going to be giving anything. If you can’t take care of yourself financially, health-wise, emotionally, or any number of other ways then how are you going to help anyone else? I am not the articulate and witty writer that Tim is, so I’m going to let him say it for me:
… but let me tell you a secret. The most efficiently benevolent people on earth still put themselves first. They know that if they don’t look after their own mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health then they can’t function efficiently. I’m not suggesting you become self-centered and arrogant or that you neglect your family and loved ones. In fact I’m suggesting the complete opposite because when you decided to be kind to yourself first, then you will have more to offer others.
Tim doesn’t mention “financial” in his list and I suspect we may differ a little there. I think that is just as important as all the others, but the underlying message from both of us is the same.
Are you a taker or a giver? You have to make yourself into a healthy, happy, independent member of the human family before you can truly give of yourself. If you don’t, you will end up as a taker and not a giver. There is abundance. Help others with their abundance by making sure you have yours first. You can share yours with others and then those you touch along the way as well as all of the rest of us will be living a world that is just a little bit better.
When we talk about giving, your way of doing so does not have to fit into some narrow vision of mine or of someone else. You decide whether it will be time, money, knowledge, encouragement, mentoring, your happy disposition, a smile, or whatever you choose.
I know this may sound crass but I do not intend it that way. Suspend your judgement for a moment and think about the idea I left for you at the end of this article. Ponder it. Let it bubble around for a while.
Then go visit a magnificent museum or drown yourself in the arts in some other manner that suits your needs. You may be doing so with the resources donated (just look at the name on the building) by someone who took care of themselves first. Then they built a library for people who otherwise might never have seen a book. The librarian is to be honored, but they wouldn’t be of help without the building and the books.
You can’t share something you don’t have.