I want to talk to you about giving. Yes, I know, yawn, but bear with me.
The horrific scenes in Nepal and further afield following last weekend's huge earthquake have been hard to avoid. I'm sure most people will have had the conversation that goes something like "oh, isn't it horrible, if only there was something we could do to help". And then forgotten about it.
But there is something you can do.
You can help the rescue efforts in Nepal. You can help to cure cancer. You can help homeless people to rebuild their lives. You can help survivors of abuse, rape and other horrendous experiences.
Don't just sit there and wish you could help. You CAN help.
Giving doesn't come naturally to me. I work hard and feel entitled to the money I get in return. To be honest, when I heard people talking about how we should be giving more, I used to feel slightly offended. Why should I have to give away my hard-earned cash?! It's mine! We're hard-wired for selfishness. We work hard for the things we have and we just don't want to give them away. They're ours.
And what's the secret to changing that mindset? Just bloody do it.
As soon as you feel even the tiniest inclination to give: Just give.
As soon as you feel even the teensiest tug on your heartstrings: Just give.
As soon as you find yourself thinking about a situation and how horrible it is: Just give.
When that feeling hits you, for goodness sake, act on it as fast as you possibly can. Do it straight away - the more time you have to think about it, the more you'll convince yourself not to. Just give.
It's easy to be cynical but honestly what on earth have you got to lose? So you gave away five of your hard-earned pounds and every single penny wasn't used to pay for food for orphans in Uganda or whatever worthy cause you selected. It's not ideal but seriously, you will not miss that five pounds. That's a salad from Pret or a measly single gin and tonic in most London bars. I love gin but I also love the idea of a homeless person being able to have a hot dinner.
If, like me, you're a little on the lazy side, why not set up a monthly standing order for a charity you admire? It doesn't have to be much but even a tiny, steady trickle of money can help (particularly for smaller charities).
When you start to give, something strange begins to happen. More often than not you'll find you start to receive. I know, I know, it sounds like mumbo jumbo but seriously, I've experienced this myself. A few weeks ago I found myself suddenly seized by the desire to do something to help a charity which I've admired from afar. In the spirit of immediate giving that I mentioned above, I rushed home, logged on to their website and (perhaps rather foolishly) donated a sum of money that was, quite frankly, beyond my means. I told myself that yes, it would make things a little tight in the run-up to payday, but I could go without a couple of pub sessions to make it work. A few days later, I checked my bank balance and was stunned by the figure on the screen. I then realised that I'd received my last pay check from a previous job, which I had completely forgotten was due and was now in fact even better off financially than I normally would be.
Without going too mushy, there's also those warm and fuzzy feelings you get from giving. Knowing that you are actively helping people is an amazing feeling and in the case of something like the Nepal earthquake when we all feel like we are helplessly watching from afar, it's great to know that there is at least something that can be done. I know that if I had to choose between a swanky new foundation or making sure a family had clean water for a week, I'd be going make-up free.
Of course, I'm not saying that donating to charity is the only way to help people but it's probably the easiest way. It takes minutes, if not seconds. Helping to transform or even SAVE someone's life is almost obscenely easy.
Yes you're giving away a tiny fraction of your money. But both you and the people you are helping are gaining so much more.