When I think of the holiday season, one of the things that comes to mind is gifts. Many of the gifts you give at this time of year are “have to” or “expected” gifts. These are gifts for people you might not know very well and the gifts tend to be quickly forgotten. Especially with everything happening in the world, it is important to think about another type of gift, the “choose to” or “positive impact” gift.
Positive impact gifts usually have a strong emotional component to them on the part of the giver and/or receiver. For instance, I remember a childhood gift from a boy who replaced a mirror that he had accidently broken when we were playing. It remains in my memory because I appreciated that he had replaced it. However, many positive impact gifts do not cost money and are not tangible.
The other day I saw a story on Facebook about a four year old girl who met an old man at the grocery store on her birthday and wanted her picture taken with him. The man said it was the best day of his life in a long time. After the mom posted the picture on Facebook, she found out that his wife had died six months ago. The person telling her said he looked happier than he had ever been since that date. The mom called him up and he became a family friend. This kind of story epitomizes the impact a gift can give.
Now that we have the internet, it is much easier to find the positive stories like this, instead of the negative stories that the mainstream media tends to focus on. Sometimes one little planned or unplanned positive impact gift can create a big ripple. Sometimes you might know about the effect and sometimes not. With a positive impact gift, it doesn’t matter. You do it because you want to, not because you feel you have to.
A positive impact gift doesn’t have to be big. It can be as simple as paying for a stranger’s restaurant bill or bridge toll. You can help cook a meal for a homeless person or buy a holiday gift for a family in need. You can give your services to someone who can’t afford to pay for them. You can shop local and support the local economy. You can smile at every person that you meet, whether or not you know them.
You can probably come up with many ideas of your own. Take a few minutes to brainstorm your skills and strengths – these are your positive impact gifts to the world. Consider giving some of these gifts and seeing what ripples you can create.