The Joy in Giving

Author: Ed Hall


“It is in giving that we receive” Archbishop Desmond Tutu


There has been much written recently about the two parts of our journey through life including Richard Rohr’s, “Falling Upward” and “The Second Mountain” by David Brooks. During the first part of life, focus is on achievement and finding oneself, e.g., obtaining a job, providing for family, and seeking the pleasures of a comfortable life. Many say they seek to be “happy.” Tutu says, “Joy is a by-product – if you set out and say, I want to be happy, clenching your teeth with determination, this is the quickest way of missing the bus.” It is interesting to contrast happiness and joy. Brooks claims, “Happiness involves a victory for the self – as we move toward goals. Joy tends to involve some transcendence of self.”


An interesting insight is provided by Richard Rohr: “I believe that God gives us our soul at our own conception – we are given a span of years to discover it, to choose it and to live our destiny to the full.” To me, that is our challenge  and purpose as we continue on our journey of faith. At some point along the journey, we comprehend what we have received and what we are able to give back.


Romans 12 vs. 6 – God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well” (we each receive different gifts).


I find that the perspectives provided by Rohr and Brooks enable me to focus on putting happiness in context, thus enabling joy to unfold.


In “The Book of Joy,” the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu describe “joy” as having eight pillars of which the following four relate to the heart:


  • forgiveness (respecting the dignity of each person)
  • gratitude (aware of one’s blessings)
  • compassion (selflessness)
  • generosity (time-talent-treasure)


The common theme of the pillars? Giving.


“The central journey of modern life is moving self to service.” David Brooks


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