The Best Giving Hurts … But Not For The Reason You Think

“You’ve got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.”

— Irish Proverb

I told my wife, Melissa, that I was going to change the reader board at Tessa’s school.

The discomfort of working in the rain was offset by the happy message.

The discomfort of working in the rain was offset by the happy message.

“In the rain?!?” she exclaimed.

After a gasp, and a brief discussion about why I couldn’t wait until it stopped raining, I said, “Well, it needs to get done. Besides, giving is often uncomfortable.”

That’s true in the larger sense as well. There are all kinds of societal and internal forces that want to keep us from giving our time away – self interest, unknown results, not the norm, not a habit, don’t know how, don’t know the recipient, better ways to give, better things to do, and on and on.

But after almost two years of giving my time and writing about it, I’m coming to the conclusion that some of the most effective giving is not only intentional, conscious, connective, and takes real time, it also is a bit uncomfortable.


  • If we’re at least a little on edge, we’re likely to be mentally engaged.
  • If it’s uncomfortable it’s a stretch and that’s often when we build confidence.
  • If it’s new, we’re pulled out of our normal routines which opens our eyes to new ways to see the world, which can lead to new ideas and opportunities.
  • If we’re giving to a different class of people – economic, racial, religious, age, or others we have the opportunity to see their challenges and get a new perspective.

If these ideas seem familiar, they are.

Many motivational speakers talk about doing what is uncomfortable in order to reach our dreams and goals, to go beyond ourselves in order to escape our bad habits. Health experts talk about the discomfort of getting out of our eating routines. Physical fitness gurus show us by example – no pain, no gain. There’s some pain in change. Even positive change.

But stretching ourselves by giving to others also gives us another benefit that just being successful, losing weight, or getting in shape doesn’t. It helps build our spirit and our wisdom. It helps us be human.

Giving time hurts a little, not because of the lost opportunity to do something for ourselves, or because our bank account is a little smaller, or our day a little busier. It’s the discomfort of growing.

And that idea is certainly not all wet.

Yesterday’s gift of time … Changed the reader board in the rain. It was well worth the discomfort of getting wet. 

About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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