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Giving in Down Times

Running on empty? Try doing something for someone else.

Sometimes, when the news all seems to be bad, when the bank account is running low, when our emotional stores are feeling empty, it is more difficult to feel generous. We find ourselves in a state of scarcity, clutching desperately to what we have, holding it closer and struggling with the concept of giving anything away. In the present economy, many people are stuck in this cycle of scarcity and fear. These are the times when giving can be most important, and can have the greatest positive influence on our state of mind.

By giving of ourselves when we feel least equipped to do so, we create an attitude of abundance that resonates around us. Through our generosity, we are made aware of others' gratitude; mindful giving causes us to be more aware of our own value. This awareness, in turn, bolsters our emotional bank account so we are more likely to continue to feel connected to the bigger picture that exists beyond our own personal circumstances.

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The most important thing to remember is that it makes no difference what our esteemable acts are. Whether we drop a coin in a stranger's expired parking meter, or give a lavish gift to a loved one, the potential is the same. It is the thoughtfulness that causes the psychic shift that allows us to recognize that we live abundant lives even in the toughest of times. It is in that moment of intention that we recognize our connection to one another and to the divine spark that allows us to share our gifts. We generate a creative energy from which the Universe creates everything from nothing.

Here are some low- or no-cost giving ideas:

1. Get up early and share a cup of coffee with your husband or wife.

2. Volunteer at the library, or donate some books you've already read.

3. Give away clothes you no longer wear.

4. Go for a "trashwalk" and pick up all the garbage you see along the way. Most cities have an "adopt-a-highway" program so you could make this a long term give, and involve family and friends

5. Next time you're in heavy traffic, stop and let someone out in front of you

6. Call a friend or family member you haven't talked to lately, especially if you know they're having a rough time

7. Offer to help a coworker with part of their work

8. Drop a coin in an expired parking meter

9. Buy a sandwich or cup of coffee for the person in line behind you at the cafe.

10. Next time you're at the store and see a donation box on the counter, donate your change.

Cami Walker is the creator of the 29Gifts.org movement and author of the book 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life.

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