Unexpected Gifts

Eventhough my reactions may vary, I enjoy getting gifts, whether expected or not. When the gift is expected, (birthday, holiday, achievement, formal recognition)there is heightened anticipation of what level of choice the giver has made on my behalf. Is the gift personal, pertinent, whimsical, monetary, extravagant, sensible, etc. So when I encounter the moment, levels of anticipation compound through my experience.

Once the Package is opened, will I approve of the choice? I would hope that regardless of the gift, the giver’s intention is of primary importance. Yet I know myself enough to be critical of the selection, which means sometimes I am worse off than before I opened the gift if I momentarily hope for something in particular and then end up with an unrelated, maybe less than desired result.

There are even times when the gift is so extravagant I feel guilty. What’s that about? Actually, I think it’s about my unwillingness to be extravagant with my resources when it comes to myself that I am just as cheap when giving to others. Very telling awareness. This awareness has lately led me to consider other perspectives on human behavior.

Our level on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs determines our reaction to unexpected gifts. Or at least that’s my understanding of human behavior.

Depending on what level of needs we personally attribute to ourselves, we respond in willingness to give to others. For instance, those of us simply eeking out an existence will be downright basic in our response to a monetary gift. If we are handed a $20 bill, we will either seek to accomplish a basic need (food, shelter, sex, etc.) or buy a comfort we would otherwise not afford (dessert, alcohol/liquor, toy,etc.) Regardless, our focus is on ourselves, since so far we view ourselves as without priviledge.

The higher our view of our own priviledge, the quicker we respond with willingness to give to others. So let’s say we are given the same $20 and this time we feel our basic needs are met and so are many of our psychological needs. Now we may turn our focus to giving the money for the good of those around us. Our enjoyment shifts from spending on us to spending on others.

The more we feel confident, respected, accomplished the higher our frequency of giving.

Recently I was recognized as an expert by several business professionals and highly rewarded with given the opportunity to travel on someone else’s expense account while being paid (well) to deliver a quality service. At first I wanted to share in this travel with my partner Kim, and then realized I should never expect the client to endorse that expense. Suddenly it dawned on me I could definitely afford to provide this treat for someone else, so I decided to offer the trip as an early birthday present to Kim.

What a gift the giving was! For her it suddenly validated her value when I shared my interest in sharing the opportunity. For me it told me I am finally growing up. I can cause someone else to enjoy a gift. Although my business efforts have been focused over 10 years, I haven’t often seen the reward. Now I do. It’s in the giving.

When unexpected gifts come my way, I respond based on my impression of where I stand on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The higher I stand, the better my response will be. This tells me I must continue the drive toward both psychological and self-fulfillment needs. That allows me to truly receive gifts by giving.

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On May 5th, 2010, posted in: Uncategorized by
One Response to Unexpected Gifts
  1. If it weren’t for Dave Miller, I wouldn’t have a dad My bicoogilal father split when I was just a baby. I’ve never known him. My mother remarried and this man has been my dad ever since.He has emotionally supported me, morally supported me, and financially supported me. He instilled hard work and ethics in me at a very young age. He also taught me the importance of school. Once I turned 18, I was forced by law to use my bicoogilal father’s last name but he will never be my dad. As I graduate with my first college degree next Friday, I have hyphened my last name on my diploma to show my dad that it was HIM that taught me that hard work and determination will pay off.I remind him every father’s day that it takes a true man to raise another man’s child as his own. And THAT is my favorite memory of my dad.

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