When you give, you get back more than you give out.

A friend sent me a copy of a wonderful and very insightful book, “29 Gifts,” by Cami Walker. A friend of my friend had given her a copy of the book, setting my friend on a life changing experience of gifting.

My friend’s friend had, after years of suffering from Lyme disease, finally found a doctor who brought him back to life, and as a show of gratitude he purchased 29 copies of “29 Gifts” and gave them to his friends.

The back of the book describes it perfectly. One month after her wedding day, 33-year-old Cami Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and the life she knew changed forever. Each day brought new negative thoughts: I’m going to end up in a wheelchair. My life is over. Why did this happen to me?

The book is powerful, as it presents Walker’s desperation and struggles, before she finds a new purpose in life through gifting.

As she struggled, Walker received an uncommon prescription from a friend, an African medicine woman named Mbali Creazzo: Give 29 gifts in 29 days. “By giving,” Mbali told her, “you are focusing on what you have to offer others, inviting more abundance into your life.”

The story gets really amazing after Walker got that advice. After engaging in giving 29 gifts in 29 days, she founded the 29-Day Giving Challenge, a project that spread worldwide, improving tens of thousands of lives. Walker was the winner of the 2009 Books for a Better Life MS Awareness Award.

Here are some things I learned from this book.

It is very important that you not give to get. Give simply for the joy of giving, and the opportunity to connect with others. Walker advises that if you forget or skip a day of gifting, you start over, “to let the energy build.”

The gifts can be anything, from a compliment to lunch, flowers to a good book. But one gift should be something that is scarce in your own life.

I particularly like the recommendation that you keep a journal to record each gift and gifting experience. My friend is doing that and will share her journal with me sometime soon. She has already shared some of her experiences with me, inspiring me to join in this gifting project.

You can learn more by reading the book, of course, but you can also learn more at Walker’s website, www.29Gifts.org. Many gifters share their stories on the website. More inspiration!

I especially liked this justification for gifting, which I read on the website: to see the world change, we have to do something to change the world. Plus, the best way to attract abundance into your life is to be in a perpetual state of giving and gratitude.

“Be an important part of the global giving movement that inspires more generosity on our planet,” Walker says. Great advice.

Here’s more insight from my friend. “With each gift I tried to find something I wouldn’t normally do or say or give. I tried to reach out to strangers in a way I never had and I tried to do unusual acts of kindness. I like to think I am kind and considerate and try to contribute to the world in a positive way. But the 29-gift challenge stretched my imagination and my everyday way of interacting with strangers. By the end of my successful 29-day challenge my daily gifts became one of the most important parts of my day. In the end, it was my greatest joy each day to give my gift.”

I have embarked on my first 29 days of gifting, and I can tell you it’s hard every day to stop at one gift. I really enjoy writing the stories in a journal. Perhaps someday I will share those with you.

Today, I hope you will join me in this journey. And here’s the really good news. You do not have to stop gifting in 29 days. My friend has not stopped gifting every day and writing about it in her journal. Many participants immediately start on another 29 days of gifting. And on and on it goes.

George Smith is a writer and TV talk show host. He can be reached at 34 Blake Hill Road, Mount Vernon 04352, or [email protected] Read more of Smith’s writings at www.georgesmithmaine.com.

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