We can all be generous. It doesn’t matter who we are or what our personal brand may be, we all have the ability to be generous. To celebrate your holiday season this year, consider offering one or more of these gifts of generosity.

Simple touching gifts

1. Donate a used blanket, coat, scarf, mittens, or warm sweater to someone in your community. Everyone needs to be warm on a cold night. Your community likely has a program that cleans and distributes these items for the less fortunate.

2. Share a smile. Nerves are frazzled and people are stressed as they rush through their busy days. There may be line-ups and delays as you go about your day-to-day activities. Usually there is nothing the salesperson, ticket taker, or service representative can do to hurry up the process. Be pleasant and give them a smile as you complete your transaction. They will certainly appreciate it.

3. Share a kind word. I called my hairdresser this week to tell him that many people were complimenting my new haircut. At first he was confused. He said if someone called it meant there was a problem. After he realized I was offering positive feedback, he was touched and told me how uncommon it was to receive such a call. How sad is that, when people are caught off guard and overwhelmed by a kind word.

4. Show some patience when driving. Horn honking, aggressive tailgating, and nasty gestures will only create additional stress for yourself as well as the drivers around you. Leave a few minutes early so you are not rushing to your destination. Expect delays and drive (not act) defensively.

5. Touch your loved ones. Touch is an important sense that we may not use as much as we should to show our love and affection. Of course this doesn’t mean making out in public places or touching others inappropriately. Smooth your child’s hair, hold your partner’s hand, or give a hug to a close friend or family member. Maintain a close physical connection with those who are important to you. As children’s singer and songwriter Charlotte Diamond says “Four hugs a day, that’s the minimum… Don’t forget to give Four Hugs today.”

6. Give of your time. Read to someone. Walk a dog from the pound. Visit someone who is infirm or shut in. Become involved in a community project. There are literally hundreds of ways to contribute. Your community likely has a list of volunteer opportunities. Look for one that suits you. As a bonus, these activities build your network and provide learning opportunities.

7. Give freely of your ideas and information. If you view the world as a bountiful environment full of opportunities rather than as a competitive place, you can create mutually beneficial relationships. Share what you know with others to help them learn and grow. Everyone wins.

8. Give a gift of humor. Share a funny story. Make an effort to see the joy and humor in situations. Lighten up and have fun. Laughter reduces tension and creates a pleasant atmosphere.

9. Give the gift of harmony and peace in your personal world. Don’t start an argument, even when you know you are right. Generally it is important to express your needs and opinions but it’s good sometimes to declare a truce, especially during the holidays, when we are around people who push our buttons. Some of these people may even have installed your buttons. Agree to disagree and avoid rehashing old arguments. Look for connections and common ground. One person needs to step back and let things be. Be that person this year.

10. Give the gift of support. Recognize when others need help and encouragement. Be there for those who need you. You don’t need to solve everyone’s problems or make everyone feel happy and content. What you can do is show a person that you respect them and are there for them. This gift of support may be the difference between someone succeeding or giving up.

Are there more gifts that you would like to offer this holiday season? I invite you to add to this list.

No matter which gifts you choose to give, your generosity will make the world a warmer, kinder place to live.


Donna Dunning, PhD, is a psychologist, certified teacher, member of the MBTI ® International Training Faculty, and director of Dunning Consulting Inc. She is the author of more than a dozen publications, including her two newest books, 10 Career Essentials and What’s Your Type of Career? 2nd edition. Donna’s guiding principle is: Know yourself, respect differences, learn and grow. Follow Donna on Twitter and Facebook and visit her website.