I just re-wrote this entire blog. Why? I’ll tell you why my friend. This blog is about giving and quite simply my words were directed towards taking. Taking your praise for my heavily exaggerated story rather than giving away the tips and knowledge I have recently procured. So here is ‘Giving 2.0'.’
Fuck My Life…
My face resembled a sun dried tomato as I walked past a homeless man. My $400 down jacket proved enough to fend off the bitter Melbourne cold, yet it had no defence against the stench of piss or the aromatic offence of street living.
An internal battle raged, I was fucking sick and it had been one hell of a week. Every ounce of my feeling brain screamed for blood! Fuck everyone! Fuck this homeless man and his stinky pants! Fuck this girl walking at 0.00005 kilometres an hour in front of me! Fuck the world & Fuck this fluffy jacket!
Then, from somewhere distant, a voice burst through like a beam of glorious angelic light - “Oi! Fuck Head! Own your shit! Stop being an ass hole and start showing some damn gratitude!” Yes. It’s true. I have all the same internal battles that many of you experience. Just because I have chosen to pursue a path of self understanding, love and gratitude - does not mean I have ceased to be a human being.
We are all in a constant state of learning, we all experience frustration; anger, hatred and pain. However, the decisions we make after experiencing such emotions, differs. At this point in time I had a choice:
-Stay angry! Blame everyone and everything for my negative mindset. I had the option to choose a selfish path that would surely lead to more anger and resentment for the world. Sounds like a shit choice to me!
-The second choice? Hit my bottom line. Bounce back with gratitude and choose to give what I had emotionally available. Choose to share the small reservoirs of love, kindness and compassion I had stored deep inside my mind.
As this cosmic battle raged on in my mind, a split second past in the real world. In that split second a woman in her 40’s bent down to offer all that she had to the piss drenched homeless man. She had lit a cigarette just moments ago, her Coles work jacket fluttering in the cold winds. I could have sworn that in that moment the dark rings around her eyes glowed gold. This woman, who had all the indications of an individual struggling to make her way in a new country. Deep bags under her eyes and swollen ankles suggested this was not her first shift of the day.
Yet she chose to give away what little she had. Her smile outshone the world in that moment, this woman had discovered a secret that many human beings will never know. This woman altered the course of my day. This woman with sunken eyes, messy black hair and an accent filled with determination. This incredible woman knew that the secret to living was giving.
The cosmic battle ceased. My internal Zeus drove lightning into the heart of the Titans, locking away any thoughts of hatred, entitlement or self pity. I reached into that toasty yellow jacket of mine, my fingers pooled the coins that lay dormant. As the coins landed in that smelly homeless mans cup, I no longer saw him as such. I felt only love for that man and I showed that with a smile. He smiled back, my heart was lifted and a strange energy flowed through me.
Today was a gift. Tomorrow will be a luxury. Now, what more can I give?
Perspective is a problem. Not the word itself or the idea that the word represents, rather the lack of accurate perspective that humanity suffers from today. Over 11 million people live in favelas (slums) across Brazil and more than 14 million are unemployed. You might imagine a place like this is full of selfish humans focused on increasing their personal material wealth no matter the cost to those around them. You would be right. You would also be wrong.
Have you ever noticed the correlation between giving and the materially poor? Have you ever been blown away by how much those with very little are willing to give? I have. Yet more and more I witness acts of extreme kindness by those with nothing. Do these people not want to get rich?
Here’s the thing, they are rich - rich in purpose and love. Material wealth is a promise of happiness, often sold as the final destination on your pursuit of happiness. Will a private jet really be the solution to your sadness? Is that twenty year old supermodel going to cure the scars from your first marriage? Will gold trimming really improve your showering experience? No. None of the above. If I am completely honest with you, nothing will allow you to reach the final destination on your pursuit of happiness - not even giving.
Everlasting happiness is a myth and the accumulation of more material happiness will not change anything - it will only worsen your crisis of happiness. Well fuck! I’m off topic already so allow me to make a promise, the next blog I write will explain the myths of happiness and offer some alternatives. Right, back to giving!
Our perspective on material wealth and the accumulation of stuff needs to change if we want to feel more satisfied with ourselves, our choices and our lives. Many of us believe that spending money on ourselves will create happiness yet the opposite is true.
The level of contribution, kindness and giving I experienced from those with very little in Brazil, blew me away. These people were happier than any Audi driving rich white guy I knew back home. How? They had nothing and yet they gave everything. They had discovered a wealth that so many of us fail to find - Giving & Contributing is the secret to living.
The Science of Giving
Alright Sam, yep today you are once again Sam. Let’s imagine you have $5 in your pocket, you are hungry and cheeseburgers are 2 for $5. There is a single mother in front of you in the line with two crying toddlers at her feet. She reaches into her mangled, mud stained purse as 25 cents rolls to the floor. It is clear that this woman is struggling so you should probably help, but you are hungry!
Decision time Sam!
Will you be happier with a full stomach? Or… will you be happier after giving away your hard earned fiver? Let’s ask science what she thinks. When you give to another person there is a physiological response - your brains pleasure and reward centres light up far more than if you were the recipient of those delectable little morsels of happiness (the cheeseburgers in this example). Your brain floods your body with feel good endorphins, naturally the bigger the contribution the greater and lengthier the high.
Still not convinced Sam?
Oxytocin, a hormone also released during sex, surges through your veins when you give to others. The high from this chemical can last up to 2 hours, increasing your capacity for empathy and boosting your connection with others. Naturally such a euphoric feeling is addictive which is why so many who discover the secret of contribution continue to give more. Even witnessing kindness causes a spike of feel good hormones in the brain.
So why are so many people reluctant to give?
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It Starts With You
A combination of capitalism, greed, fake happiness, entitlement, external validation and flawed perspective has nurtured a world of idiots. Yeah fuck! Fair enough, that is a little harsh but fuck it… its true. Buddha understood all those years ago that contribution was essential for the minimisation of suffering. Many countries in the east have understood and practised these teachings for years. So why not you?
Exactly. Why not you? What is stopping you? What your friends think? What society tells you is stupid? Your desire for a Lamborghini that will only give you a brief moment of happiness until you return to suffering and despair?
It starts with you Sam!
Do you want to feel truly fulfilled? Do you want to feel joy more often? Do you want to connect with amazing people and share in their joy?
Then start giving and discover the secret to living.
Get Started with These Pointers
Giving. What do you think when you hear that word? The majority of you (Sam you’re included) will most likely consider money. In a society so reliant on currency and the exchange of goods and services for an imagined form of value - it makes sense to think this way. So what happens when you have no money to give?
The idea of giving away material asset’s in exchange for a lump sum of oxytocin, connection and brain smiles is inherently flawed. I want to suggest some alternatives that each and everyone of you can supply. So come on gang of Sam’s - lets all get happy high together!
Give Kindness - You have probably heard the ‘old lady crossing the road’ example before: An old lady is struggling with her bags and is in need of assistance in order to cross the road. How do you respond?
A - Fuck helping! The tram is coming and you can’t miss it otherwise you might get home 10 minutes later. Totally understandable… Get fucked!
B - Help that lady get her shopping home and connect with another amazing human. As a bonus, receive a dose of happy juice to your brain cells!
The simple act of showing kindness to those in need is an excellent way of giving. Give away your umbrella in a storm, offer your seat to someone who needs it more than you or give your cheeseburger to a homeless man.
Contribute to something greater than yourself - Contributing to a purpose is one of the greatest ways to reap the benefits of giving, an endless reservoir of giving awaits you and you know what that means Sam! Happy highs like ‘erry day!'.
This may take the form of a business you own and create: Maybe you create an ocean clean up movement or design a revolutionary new way of supplying power while sucking the CO2 from our atmosphere - effectively reversing global warming.
If that doesn’t sound like you feel free to join another organisation that is contributing to the world in a positive way. Go build wells in Africa or plant trees in the Sahara. You might just want to volunteer at your local hospital, interacting with 10 year olds in the throws of cancer.
Give Love - This one is simple. Stop with the hatred and quit the anger. Replace it with love and empathy, feel a boost of happiness instead of a lingering anger over an issue that really doesn’t mean shit.
Author - Jacques Massie
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