Diet & Nutrition

The best gifts to give, period.

Giving regularly boils down to a shift in mindset.

Photo by Oliver Barth / LA Food Photography

I’ll admit, this post was originally planned as a gift guide. Like many people, I love specialized gift collections, and often use them as a source of direction for the hard-to-shop-for people on my list. And since I can certainly help out in the idea department for the health and superfood track, I’ve made it a tradition to post something along those lines the past couple years. Plus, with my books making the official Barnes & Noble gift guides for both the Top Wellness Gifts For Health Enthusiasts and Thoughtful Gifts For Mindful People, I was very much looking forward sharing the good news, not to mention the deep discounts.

But this year is different. After the catastrophic Thomas Fire unleashed its wrath in our immediate community last week — one of the largest fires in the history of California — and continues to threaten so many of our family and friends, it’s difficult to focus on material goods. There’s just so much destruction still in the air.

Nevertheless, over the past few days I have witnessed, and participated in, an outpouring of support and generosity from businesses and people this holiday season, aiding those who have truly lost everything. I can only begin to imagine the heartbreak of the fire victims, but the resulting “come together” attitude has been nothing short of inspirational. So, in that vein, instead of a gift guide, this year I’d like to offer a few motivational tools to encourage the very practice of giving itself … for the holidays, and beyond.

Giving regularly boils down to a shift in mindset. Know this: if you are practicing act of giving, you are giving the perfect gift already. Here’s how to fight even the most powerful internal myths so you can — quite literally — give your best:

“Giving takes a ton of time.” While some people may be able to take a month off of work to help a person build a house, there are absolutely no rules that say giving has to be so grandiose. In the style of everyday giving, your gift can be as simple as picking up your work-mate’s favorite coffee drink while you grab your own, or making your Sunday potluck dish extra health-giving by mixing in some of your favorite superfoods to share… transforming it into something that’s delicious, and truly healing. What a beautiful contribution.

“Giving costs a lot of money.” The truth is, giving doesn’t have to cost you anything! If you have a tree bearing lots of fruit this season, take a basket of fresh-picked edibles over to a friend’s house. If you’re sweeping your front sidewalk, sweep your neighbor’s side too. Donate old clothes you no longer wear to charity, or put some old books in a box on curb to perk up someone’s day with a freebie. If you look for things to give, you’ll be surprised by how much you actually have.

“Giving takes too much energy.” Despite what giving’s name would imply, it’s been well documented that giving is actually incredibly rewarding. The act of giving, and the idea of selflessly making someone else a little bit happier or more comfortable, stimulates dopamine production in the “gifter’s” brain, promoting a greater feeling of well-being and satisfaction. One of the most recommended activities for individuals suffering from depression is to get involved in some kind of charity work, but even micro-level giving can have a similar effect as well. You will likely find that giving gives you more energy … not less.

“Giving doesn’t matter.” Feeling like the world’s problems are too big to solve is not an excuse for inaction. That’s because every positive impression makes a difference. Will your $20 donation to a canine rescue center stop innocent animals from being euthanized, forever? Not immediately, no. But it will help one more sweet creature receive the care it needs today. Will bringing a friend a healthy cookbook to help with their weight-loss efforts result in an immediate transformation? Unlikely. But it may just be the tangible support she needs to stick to her journey. You never know how much of an impact even your smallest effort can make, and these actions combined can ripple into something that really can transform our community for the better.

Remember: The best gift to give this holiday is simply to give to others. That’s it. Give today, and give tomorrow too. Just give.

Happy holidays, friend.

If you would like to donate to the victims of the Thomas Fire this season, visit the Thomas Fire Fund, or text “UWVC” to 41444, or call 805-485-6288. The Humane Society is also stretched thin to care for all the displaced animals, and in need of donations as well.



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