In the bustle of the holiday season, the reason behind WHY we give can get murky. Obligation often mingles with “tradition” to create a sticky mess of debt, stress and burden. In my two decades of experience as a mental health professional, this time of year was consistently laden with depression and despair.

{**It’s worth mentioning that this is also the time of year with most physical darkness. These rhythms of recession are required for the energy to die off the branches and return to the roots so that they may store up energy to bloom again in the spring. Nothing blooms all the time; death, decay and darkness is something that we as a culture are not comfortable with and tend to do whatever it takes from dosing our gardens with mega chemical fertilizer, downing caffeine to stay “up” and tanning salons to feign a glow. Moderate amounts of melancholy, deep introspection and hermit-ing away is actually a natural part of creation.}

Back to my point…I maintain that one of the reasons we are so stressed this time of year is because we are not clear on the motivation behind our actions and we wind up giving in order to receive something in exchange. One of my favorite authors on this topic, Simon Sinek, speaks about this in the context of business and the importance of starting with WHY, for it is the undercurrent of everything we do. Check out his Ted Talk Here.

I am a fierce advocate of coming from our fullness and giving from the overfloweth cup. And if our cup underrunneth, then we simply cannot give (or need to give in another way) and have to face off with the fact that we are not in full bloom at the moment. What if, instead of giving from deficit, we were honest with ourselves and only gave what we could offer freely, in good consciousness? What if, as leaders of self, we committed to our own health and wellness first, then gave to others without expectation of return? What if the idea of selfishness were reclaimed as an act of compassion to self?

When I am able to do this well, I become a vessel and give to another as a transmission and sacred offering of the most pure and joyous kind. In this state, I turn over my body, my voice and my material goods to give forth to another with such unconditional love, that I actually receive the blessing in the giving. The act of giving is my own gift, as I am receiving the energy from creation as a blessing to the other. The others’ response and reciprocity is totally unimportant. As a result, I am activated, energized and invigorated. It’s the opposite of depleted, indebted and deprived. And the greatest part is that it’s totally free of hooks, expectations or obligation. It’s an act of the generosity of my spirit in its willingness to turn itself over to be in service to another. It’s so much less about the item or words themselves, as it is about the quality of presence and love I’m able to transmit.

So perhaps as you consider giving to your spouse, family and employees this year, you do so after reclaiming your selfishness to come from an overflowing heart- and open yourself up to the possibility of receiving as you give openly and unconditionally to you those you love.

Learn more about how to give from the inside out at: