This is my story. It is about how giving to others changes a life. Not to give a cliche, but it really makes a difference. Here’s why:
First, I recently spent several months in a very dark place. My life was stalled after a long struggle with multiple sclerosis, a chronic neurological disease. I had been hospitalized five times during a three-month period, hadn’t left my house much for more than four months, and my bank balance was frighteningly low because I couldn’t work. I felt scared and hopeless.
A simple suggestion from a friend turned things around for me: Give away 29 things in 29 days. “By giving, you are focusing on what you have to offer others … inviting more abundance into your life,” she told me. “Giving of any kind … taking an action … begins the process of change and will shift your energy for life.”
I was wary, but wrote down her suggestion. At first, I had no intention of doing it. I could barely walk some days … and simply couldn’t fathom giving to another person every day for 29 days. I was attached to my own struggle and really believed that I had nothing to give anyone. I thought I needed all of my energy for my own healing. But, I forgot that healing doesn’t happen in a vacuum, but through our interactions with other people. After ignoring the suggestion for several weeks, I decided to try my friend’s 29-Day Giving Challenge as an experiment.
And so the challenge began. On day one, immediately after giving my first gift, I took myself out for breakfast. Three small but miraculous things happened. A stranger anonymously paid for my breakfast and I was able to walk home from the cafe several blocks on my own power with help from a cane. I also got a random phone call with an offer to consult with a large philanthropy organization.
I woke up most days feeling excited about what I might give away. I gave simple things like writing nice notes to friends, washing the dishes for my husband, or donating small amounts of money to causes important to me. I noticed that the more I gave away, the more well-being and abundance flowed into my daily life.
In the beginning, I wanted to see what would happen if I focused my energy on giving for 29 days. There’s no way I could have anticipated what unfolded for me.
By Day 29, I was astounded by the magical and miraculous shifts in my life:
- I was feeling happier, healthier, and more in awe with life.
- I found myself smiling and laughing more.
- My body got stronger and I stopped walking with my cane by week two.
- I was able to go back to work part-time and my business exploded with new, unexpected opportunities.
- I began connecting with community in new ways — experiencing deeper intimacy in my relationships and making new friends.
- My creativity opened up and I began writing stories regularly.
The list of changes goes on and on. This is only the beginning.
I was so inspired by the change in my own life, that I decided to give the Challenge to the world. I documented what I gave away and observations I made each day. I built a Web site and began to post these stories online at www.29gifts.org hoping others would be inspired by the stories.
As of this writing there are 327 Committed Givers signed up for the Challenge. Many of them report remarkable life changes. A fellow entrepreneur made more money during his 29 days than he had generated in the previous three months. One woman reports a renewed intimacy in her marriage, which had grown a bit distance before the Challenge. Many report feeling happier and more open and connected to others.
The mission of the 29-Day Giving Challenge is to start a giving movement in the world. I want to collect stories and artwork from people who commit to the Challenge to promote more generosity and healing worldwide. Afterall, if we want to see our world change, we must do something to change our world.
How the 29-Day Giving Challenge Works
Sign up at www.29gifts.org and give away 29 items in 29 days.
- Your 29 gifts can be anything … money, food, old sweaters, smiles, your time or kind words or thoughts.
- You can start your personal 29-Day Giving Challenge at any time — there’s no official begin or end date.
- To complete the Challenge, share a story or piece of art communicating the impact it made on your life to focus on giving. (The Web site has the submission details.)
Enjoy your 29 days. And remember to stay open to receiving. Giving can’t happen without the receptors of our gifts. The intention of the challenge is to increase the global field of abundance for everyone, which starts with you.
To take part in the 29-DayGiving Challenge, sign up today at www.29gifts.org.