Yesterday, the Salvation Army was the benefactor of my full size, barely used ironing board, and an oversized Prince tennis racket. Since last summer, I've been slowly assessing my material belongings and deciding which are worth paying to store while I'm away, and which I'm better off donating, selling, or throwing away. It's been an interesting and valuable experience.
Early on, I began with my clothing. I would run through my two closets looking for clothes I no longer wear. Each week I would find something further to donate. So why did it take several months to reach a point where I was satisfied with the amount of clothes remaining? I'd suggest it is human nature to grasp and hold onto things, feelings, and egos, regardless of the value they currently serve us. My awareness of these concepts was turned on around the same time I decided to take my trip, through my decision to place a higher value on experience versus materialism. I realized I had a pretty good lot in life, and I was reaching a point of diminishing returns in my quest to spend and consume. Ironically, I made this decision during the four months following a layoff from my first post-college job (Careerbuilder.com).
So week after week, I realized I would survive without this shirt, or those sneakers. I brought my dumbbell set to my apartment's gym so others could benefit from the extra weight plates. I gave away books and DVD's too. I sold my Sony VCR on Craig's List for $15. The more I gave away, the easier it became to give more. I continued to give money to the International Campaign for Tibet, my local Buddhist center, and my alma mater, Colgate University.
I truly believe the more you give, the more success you will reap. Giving is just as much to satisfy the giver's ego as it is to benefit the recipients, regardless of the dollar amounts involved. And that is OK. Giving of your time, money, or possessions lifts the spirits. You exude greater confidence and positive energies, and somehow people will find a way to give back to you as a result.
Regardless of your financial situation, whether you're saving every cent for a big trip or working your way out of debt, find a way to give, and you'll be a better person for it!