Here's something who don't give regularly do not know. Giving can be addictive.
Have you ever had a cleaning binge and just marched into a closet or room with your rags held high, declaring war on the clutter and grime? I do this once in awhile (not as often as I should, to be honest). I start by making piles: Keeping, recycling/tossing, giving away. Something funny happens as the space gets cleared out and the "giving away" pile grows. It's like something loosens up inside. I can breathe a little easier. I feel a little less anxious. I feel happy that someone else might be able to use that one-of-a-kind item that some well-meaning soul gave me for Christmas last year. ("Oh thank you. It's, err, lovely!")
But happiness at giving doesn't have to stop with castaway objects. You can give of your time. Of your money. Of yourself.
Starting to give might scare you. "If I give X away, will there be enough for me?" or "What if I can't think of anything to say/do for someone else?" These are valid fears. Growing up with three sisters, made me a little--shall we say "possesive" of my things. But if you, like me don't like that part of yourself, give something away and see if it doesn't make you feel better, happier and more calm.
I started this by giving a tithe when I started my new career. My logical side was saying things like "Hhhmmm, it would make more sense for you to wait until you were making enough money for the household budget before you start tithing." But my feeling side said, "Give. Just give. You'll be okay." And I have been. I have been more than okay. Money has come to me in odd, strange ways. Ways that I didn't expect it to come at all. But I'm okay with that. I just trust that it will keep coming, that I will have enough for my needs to be met. That's not why I give, but it's a pretty awesome side effect.
For the past six months I've been a "big sister" to a little sister that has a ton of troubles and heartbreaks in her life. I was scared when I volunteered for that, too. "Am I cool enough? Will she hate me? Will she talk to me?" We had a few uncomfortable patches, but I learned a lot from the experience. Mostly, I saw how great I felt that I was giving myself to her. I'm not sure how much she gained from our time together (I hope something!) but I know I got a wonderful benefit. I gave of myself and I felt blessed.
Lately, I have been wanting to give in new ways. There are so many options out there, it can be overwhelming. Should I volunteer at the local food shelf? Sign up for another mentoring program? Should I deliver hot meals to the elderly or volunteer with the local humane society? I'm not quite sure yet what it is I'll end up doing, but I'm pretty sure whatever it is, it will make me feel good. Sometimes in fact, I feel so good about giving, I feel a little guilty about it.
But it's a good guilt.