This week’s journaling prompts are inspired by Courtney Martin’s post, Give What You Love: Creative Microphilanthropy Advice, in Good Magazine’s online news page. I enjoy the magazine because it focuses on positive news, rather than the negative stuff—a refreshing change from the mainstream media focus.
Anyway, besides the great coined word, microphilanthropy, which implies that you don’t have to be rich to be philanthropic, and the examples of people giving large in small ways, what inspired me most about the article was a quote by theologian Howard Thurman.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
At this time of year, we’re all asking ourselves what we can give to our loved ones, family members, and community. If you’re like me, you probably don’t have the budget to give the way you’d like to, leaving you feeling inadequate and stumped for ideas. So the idea that true giving springs from passion and from what we love to do feels simultaneously liberating and invigorating.
The following journal writing prompts will help you discover ways to engage in your personal version of microphilanthropy.
- What makes you come alive? Define what you mean by “alive,” and then free write on this topic. Set a timer and write for at least ten minutes.
- Make a list of things you love to do. For each item, brainstorm ways you could parlay that passion into a gift for others. For example, if you love to sew, you could host a sewing party at your home, teaching others how to make simple gifts for their loved ones. If you love to work on bicycles, you could offer to tune up your friends’ bikes, or teach a safety class to kids in your community.
- What do you wish that you had known earlier in life? What do you think would benefit others if they knew it? Brainstorm gentle, non-intrusive ways to get that information to others.
- Make a list of values you hold as important. Your list may include honesty, beauty, peace, trust, freedom, and so on. Choose one of these values and ask yourself how you could incorporate it into small gifts for others. For example, if you select beauty, in what ways can you give the gift of beauty? Do you have art, photography, or poetry skills to share? The ability to create beautiful flower arrangements? In what small ways could you give the gift of freedom? One way might be to babysit for friends for a few hours.
- Write about what you wish that others would do for you. Then, imagine what it might feel like to do or give those things to others. If something feels right, make a list of people to whom you could offer that gift of time and love.
- Do you remember how fun it was to get an honest-to-goodness, handwritten letter or card in the mail? Write cards or letters to five people who have touched your life in some way, letting them know the effect their actions had on you.
- Do you donate regularly to any agencies that help other people? What are these agencies and why do you give to them? Is there a way you can donate to one or more of the agencies in other ways? Perhaps you can introduce their work to other people, or volunteer for a few hours a month. If you can, your increase your donation to one or more of the agencies by $1 per month. Write about the benefits and constraints you experience as a result of contributing to these agencies’ work.
Leave a comment and share your gifting ideas with us.