This year, The Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration Ontario will be recognizing more than 11,000 volunteers for their contribution across the Province from March until June 2017.  I was one of those recipients’ who was recognized, for my volunteer work with a Women’s Organization, that I was gratefully a part of for more than 5 years.  While I was receiving my certificate from three honorable members of Provincial Parliament that were on hand, I couldn’t  help but be mesmerized by surveying the room, one filled with authentic smiles, pride and absolute joy.  It was incredible to see  just how many people were there to be recognized for 10, 15, 20 and even 35 years of volunteerism.   I was struck, and humbled by the shear enormity of the countless hours these remarkable people have given to their communities, through their contribution of time, love and passion to truly make an impactful difference in the lives of others.

As I was reflecting on the ceremony I started to ponder more and more about the concept of Giving.

My mom has always taught me, and continues to remind me, anytime I even slightly deviate, that the palm of one’s hand should always face downward rather upward.  Thereby, you should essentially always be of the will and mindset to give, rather than receive.  For it is when you give selflessly, without an ounce of expectation, that you will always receive multiple folds. 

However, how is giving different from sacrificing?  Are they similar?  Is it even important to differentiate between the two?  I think they are two different concepts and are associated with completely different feelings/emotions.   As we are all energy beings, it is critical for us to understand the difference between the two in combination with understanding the energy associated with these two acts.

Until a few years ago, I used to think being a good person, meant one who gives their best to others, in term of time, care, love.  Even more so, if doing such, meant foregoing one’s own desires or comforts.  I used to also strongly disagree with the concept of “self-love” as I had viewed it as “selfish love”.   Furthermore, giving and sacrificing was one and the same thing in my mind.  

I reflect on times in my past, that I felt I was sacrificing through acts of giving.  For instance, I once dated a man who lived on the other side of the city, and because he lived next to the subway stop, he didn’t find the need to own a car.  So what started off as simply dropping him off at home after we had gone out, and not to the closest subway station, turned into picking him up and dropping him off every time we made a plan to spend time together.  Another example that comes to mind is when my younger cousins started inviting me to join them clubbing, primarily for getting a DD (designated driver) rather than my company.  

You may ask, what is wrong with driving people if you don’t mind driving?   Well, yes, I love to drive. However, what I am trying to articulate is that after I gave multiple rides to people, like the two examples above, I eventually started to get frustrated and started keeping tabs of when was the last time they went out of their way for me?  This inevitably led to pondering if they were valuing my acts of kindness or taking them for granted?  Did they realize or even care, that I was getting tired due to less sleep, lost time to get my work done, and feel rushed as I was trying to juggle multiple things just to get to them and of course get them back home safely?  

All such thoughts eventually started to take an unhealthy proportion of space in my head and in turn added stress on those relationships.  Then the inevitable happened, I voiced my frustrations to those folks involved, and guess what, I got introduced to the concept of an ex-boyfriend.  However, in full disclosure, this was just the impetus to the end of the relationship, but there were significantly bigger issues involved other than just being a no-fee Uber driver.  My phone also got quite a bit quieter, as my cousins stopped calling me for random hang out plans.  

Of course, when all of that happened, I went through a normal course of emotions: anger, guilt, blame and finally and gratefully, acceptance.  However, I still thought that people as usual were taking my goodness for granted and that I should just continue to give/sacrifice like I always have.  After all, why should I stop doing something good, just because others are not perceptive enough to see and recognize it?

Ultimately, after a few years of introspection, meditation and reading works of fantastic authors, I started to notice the difference between positive and negative emotions.  It dawned on me that sacrifice stems from the thought that there is not enough for everyone so I will “just go without” which then leads to frustration, more likely than not.  Frustration is a negative emotion that once it enters into your heart, it is sure to bring its many friends along, invited or uninvited.  

So, should one not give or do random acts of kindness?   Well, I believe whole heartedly that one should absolutely Give.  See, Giving is essential to living a joyous life as it initiates the cycle of receiving, such powerful things such as: happiness, positivity, love, wealth, health and success.  However, what is equally important to the concept of Giving is, giving with right intentions and self-love.  Life is all about balance and the more we try to maintain a state of equilibrium, the more harmony we will have amongst ourselves and in the world.  

I now accept and love myself.  I remind myself that I am important and only when I am filled with love, can I offer love to everyone around me.  I still do offer rides to family and friends even when that means going out of my way, however, it is when I feel I can and want to do it, and not because I feel I should due to a self-imposed unnecessary expectation.  

When I cannot, I politely ask them to meet me half way or seek to find another way that works better for everyone involved.  What amazes me is that more often than not, both the receiver and giver are happy with such a balanced act, thereby increasing comfort in the relationship. 

Yes, I am also continuing to volunteer with time, energy and money.  What has changed though and continuing to evolve, are concepts of accepting and taking care of my own emotions without seeking a change from others.  What I offer with a positive vibe, no matter how small that is, is more valuable than giving with the idea to impress, myself and/or others.  I am extremely grateful for countless blessings I receive every day from the universe and feel that it is my purpose to bring love, beauty and joy to others.  The long term approach towards doing so consistently rests on building a strong foundation of self-love, balance, acceptance and giving because there is enough for me and for all.

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