Can Giving Make you a Better Person?

8 Mar

One of the most valuable aspects of this “30 Days of Giving” experiment that I can share is this: Forcing myself to think of something to give, every day – even when it’s hard, some days more of an effort than others – forces me to think of something outside myself. Every single day. We all get wrapped up in our lives, and mostly I don’t think it’s because we’re selfish. We have jobs, families, responsibilities – we all have a lot going on. But the most impactful aspect of this project, to me, has been that focusing on something other than myself. Many days, when I have been stressed or maybe not had the best day, my giving seems to be the thing that centers me and makes my day good again. Looking outside ourselves and our own lives and problems is a very valuable lesson.

Janet Street Porter wondered if that could be the case for her. In fact, after reading a book by Cami Walker called 29 Gifts: How A Month Of Giving Can Change Your Life, Porter wondered if giving something every day for 30 days could really make her a nicer person. Although Porter, who lives in England, found the challenge more difficult than she had anticipated, she also found over time that Nice Janet began to appear a lot more frequently than Nasty Janet, and she discovered that simply taking the time to connect with others made a big difference.

Watch the KETV newscast about Maren McNess

14-year-old Maren McNess made her New Year’s Resolution to do a good deed every day for the entire year. The teenager from Iowa has cleaned an elderly woman’s attic and served food at a homeless shelter – and she has found it’s made her grateful for what she has.

I start remembering all the stuff I have at home…it’s about helping other people, it’s not about you,” says Maren.

How inspiring is that?

My last few day’s gives:

My supplies for Liberia

March 2 – Art Supplies for Liberia: My friend Seema Mathur, a news anchor and journalist, headed to Liberia on March 4 with Global Voice Productions for a last minute assignment. She put out the call for clothing, coloring books, pencils and other items. I grabbed a bunch of stuff at Target and dropped off at Seema’s apartment for her to take. She said the supplies would be much appreciated as a form of expression and entertainment for young girls suffering from fistulas caused by rape.

March 3 – Mothers Fighting For Others: I packaged up a bunch of school supplies and sent off to my friend Rocky Turner, to take with her next month to St. Monica’s Girls’ Home in Kenya.

March 4 & 5: Lilith Fund: Both days I did quite a bit of volunteer work on the Lilith Fund website. I used to be a board member at this awesome nonprofit that works tirelessly to ensure the right of reproductive choice for low-income women.

March 6 – Childhood Brain Tumor Foundation: Happy Birthday Mom! Today was my mother’s birthday, and her birthday wish was for donations to this worthy cause. I was happy to be able to give on her behalf.

March 7 – International Women’s Day: In honor of this day to ensure rights for all women around the world, I signed a petition for women’s rights in Afghanistan and helped spread the word. Totally separate from this, I also gave a couple bucks to a guy at the corner, who lives in my neighborhood. He rides his bike around and I’m pretty sure lives in someone’s shed. He looked like he could use a meal.

Only two days left on my Giving Project – any great ideas for a last couple of big gives??

2 Responses to “Can Giving Make you a Better Person?”


  1. The Ins and Outs of Ohm « 30 Days at a Time - March 28, 2011

    […] for me. You would think that only wearing six items of clothing for a month, or figuring a way to give something every single day would be much more challenging. And often, the actual practicalities of those […]

  2. Friday 5: Do a little good this weekend - April 7, 2011

    […] giving make you a better person?   Check out this great post from Shelley of 30 Days at a Time.  It fits in really nicely with our newly launched Conversations […]

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