InnerNet Weekly: The Challenge of Gift-Giving

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InnerNet Weekly: Inspirations from ServiceSpace.org
The Challenge of Gift-Giving
by Nitin Paranjape

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tow3.jpgI am afflicted with a trait which I suppose is common, yet I feel peculiar. Even though I like receiving gifts, I find myself feeling awkward accepting them. I suppose at the core is an assumption that the process of gift-giving will raise good feelings about me in the receiver’s heart and mind. I tried to evaluate this reason and found that there may be some shades of truth in it, but it is not so straight and simple.

Giving involves thinking about the other person, understanding their universe and their wishes. It shifts our focus from ‘us’ to ‘them’, and as it does, it unwittingly bridges the gap between the two with naturalness and warmth. Gifting is that precious means by which entry into other’s soul is possible.

But in today’s consumer-driven life, gifts too have become ‘plastic-coated’; we have become dependent on the market to fulfil our wish of giving. And the wide range of available products dazzles us to temporarily forget the reasons for giving. The focus shifts to the product rather than the person. In the end, the receiver is inundated with "gifts," which have no relation to his/her needs at that moment. The market has also unconsciously slipped in the notion of "price tag." The value of how much it costs has replaced the value of feelings associated with the act of giving. A costly tag means the gift is valuable. I have had both kinds of experiences — receiving gifts which do not mean anything and choosing ones to complete the formality.

In the face of this artificiality, my family and the organisations that I was working with tried something different. We decided to make things with our own hands instead of buying them from the market. This made a lot of difference. The act of creating immediately connects us to our inner world and, at the same time, links us to whom we are making the gift for. Creating something with our own hands requires time, which challenges the market’s desire to make us passive consumers. Though my output wasn’t a grand
design, it involved my complete attention, and I reckoned it would please the receiver, a colleague in the office. It definitely did, and I felt elated.

–Nitin Paranjape

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The Challenge of Gift-Giving
How do you relate to the notion of ready-made gifts leading us to “forget the reasons for giving?” How do you stay mindful of your reasons for giving? Can you share a personal story of a gift that you chose to make with your own hands?
Resh wrote: I liked the write-up. It simply gives insight of one more way to look within instead of getting lost in outer world. It helped me in being more creative then being dependent on ready…
Ricky wrote: In the current month’s issue of Yoga Journal, at the beginning of the magazine, several of the contributors were asked “What is the most loving gift you’ve ever received?”&nbsp…
Kokil wrote: For many years I had been gifting basis the occasion and the price tag. I chose what I liked, hardly taking into consideration what the person whom I am gifting might need. I believed that my choice o…
Conrad P Pritscher wrote: Thank you for the opportunity to respond. I move in and out of the: "I know nothing" framework. Today I am in it. On two occasions I gave an art piece of welded steel…
david doane wrote: The article is entitled "The Challenge of Receiving Gifts," but it and the questions seem to focus on giving. Perhaps that suggests that it is not only easier to give than to rec…
Kristin Pedemonti wrote: Give from the heart, receive from the heart. Agreed, that it is the PERSONAL Connection of the gifter to the receiver that is most important; whether a store bought item, a handmade item or TIME…
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A Gift Economy offering of ServiceSpace.org (2012)

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