Wednesday, July 07, 2010

I need to change my thinking

29 Gifts  by Cami Walker

...the dishes I decide to wash instead of leaving them for Mark.  The spare change I decide to drop in the tip jar at the coffee shop or hand to the stranger on the street.  These are all gifts.  For me, this is the fundamental shift in mindset that has resulted in a greater sense of freedom and joy.  If I wash the dishes because "I'm supposed to" or make suggestions to a client because "I have to," I am in a very different mind space when taking the action.  I actually end up feeling resentful.  When I'm approaching everything as a gift, my heart feels open and it's easier to enjoy my day, my life. 

This paragraph above, quoted directly from the book, that I read in the middle of the night last night was a good place for me to stop.  There have been times when the very last thing I want to do is finish up the dishes (shocker, I know!)  or to take the trash out or finish what I've been paid to finish.  I've often tried to find ways to change my thinking about doing these daily tasks and a million others just so I don't feel burdened by them.

I can hear a Mary Kay National Sales Director in my head when I start a whining about my to do list.  She said that when her kids were younger she was always so grateful when she came in the door and found their sports equipment and shoes piled at the front door.  It meant that everyone got home safely.    I honestly don't know how one can think that way each and every day.  If the kids shoes and sports equipment are piled at the door each day I would be talking to them about taking care of the piles and instead leave me a note saying they are home :)  Thinking about this story though does usually snap me out of my whiny mood and I find myself grateful. 

Ahh, I understand the meaning behind the story and I understand the idea behind thinking of these things as gifts.  The online community at is positively thriving.  What I don't understand is how you can change your thinking about these "everyday" things each and every day.  The book talks about giving gifts for 29 days in a row.  Of course the overall idea is to incorporate giving into your daily life forever, but still, the book says it's only for 29 days.  Is that because we only have enough patience or willpower to give for a month?

Am I doomed to fail?

In our transplant support group those of us who are not the patients are called caregivers.  Some people say caretakers and most of us are quick to point out that we prefer to be called caregivers.  I think of a caretaker as someone who tends to landscaping or is the paid house sitter.  Not to mention, I feel that we are givers not takers in this situation.  Giving is just part of the process.

Within the caregiver role I can totally see giving each day, not expecting anything in return and getting a good feeling from the act of giving.  I just have a hard time thinking about my daily activities of being a part of giving. I truly believe in Random Acts of Kindness and I practice that as often as I can, but that first paragraph really got to me. I have a hard time seeing the every day chores of the day as a giving moment.

OK, so I confess - what I really want to know is "will my husband ever take out the trash on a daily basis?  Will he ever think of it as a gift to do so?"

So as I roll this gift thing around in my brain, I know it's a good idea.  I know I love the entire concept.  I know I want it to be the best thing to ever happen to me but that's where I think the dream ends.  I want my husband to be a part of this as well so we can make this a giving home, but I doubt he will.  We cannot change others, only ourselves.  I know, I know.  I guess we'll see when he comes home in a week or so. 

I have already started my official 29 days of giving. 
It's been three days now. 



Beth Zimmerman said...

Thank you for writing this, Kristin! People keep telling my I'm *sweet* and *good* and I keep thinking it's a good thing they can't see inside my head coz half the time I'm irritated as all get out! I really need to work more on this mind set too!

jb said...

I am going to B&N today to get a copy of this amazing book...I always give, sometimes feel taken, but I love the MK thinking of everyone is safe at is freedom, not co-dependence!!!!

Ann in the UP said...

I can't take the credit for Flylady's wise observation that doing daily chores and routines bless our home and make it a clean and clutter-free haven to live in. You would do those things if you lived alone so you could live in a pleasant space. Plus (maybe most importantly) YOU DESERVE to live in a cared for place.

I'd like to check out this book, too. Nothing like a good attitude adjustment!

qandlequeen said...

Hmmmm.... a photographer discussing perspective! Change the lighting, step to the left and narrow your focus, suddenly trash becomes art. And isn't that the same as showing gratitude for the small things instead of whining about them?

Easy to say, more difficult to put into practice says this constant whiner!

Anonymous said...

You will never fail. You give so much of yourself everyday. I'm not sure I could ever see my menial every day chores as a gift but that first paragraph was amazing.

Mrs4444 said...

This is awesome. I love this perspective. My friend Molly always said that she never minded doing laundry, because folding baseball pants, socks, etc. meant that she had three beautiful boys healthy enough to play!

I cleaned the basement this week (almost done), and it has turned out to be a wonderful gift to Mr.4444, which was a great bonus. Today, I'm going to bake something for a family whose son got in a car accident this week.

It feels great to give simple gifts--you get so much back in return.

Thanks for linking up. This was a great pick.

Sharon Cohen said...

I'll pick up where Mrs4444 left off -

Thank you for linking up with Saturday Sampling.

Thank you for choosing this post.

Thank you for pointing out the difference between a caregiver and a caretaker. I will keep response ready the next time I'm mistaken for the latter.

Thanks for giving me something to ponder. My initial response:

Giving is a heart attitude - not a measurable action. I should check out the book and take a few notes . . . for when I need a swift kick in the . . . attitude.

Just Breathe said...

I like this idea. Let me tell you that being here with my dad for 3 weeks, helping each day has sparked a thought in me. He said I bet they are missing you at home. I said "Dad, I don't do this at home!" After saying this I thought to myself why don't I? I haven't been doing this waiting on them hand & foot because I think of it as a burden. When I get home I want to do more for them as a gift. Oh guise, now I'm all teary eyed.