You gotta give to get. It’s an age-old maxim that finds happy residence in the house of spirituality, where inhabitants have long recognized that the path to abundance is paved with good deeds. The getting, in the instance introduced by MS sufferer Cami Walker, is the reward of personal well-being. And the giving? Well, that’s up to you.
In 2006, just a month after getting married, Walker was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. In the period to follow, this LA author, only 35, succumbed to bouts of anxiety, depression and drug addiction that left her reeling. She felt, she recounts, useless, and doomed to live a life in which she had no contributions to offer the world.
Devastated, Walker eventually sought solace with an African medicine woman who gave her an unusual prescription for healing: Give of yourself.
The simple act of being generous can have a dramatic impact on how a person views the world, the woman told her desperate patient. And so it was that Walker pledged to give a gift to someone else, every day, for 29 days. The experience was transformative.
After the morning Walker gave her first gift — a supportive phonecall to a fellow MS sufferer — the dye was cast. “I woke up the next day and the next day after that feeling excited about what I might give away,” Walker enthuses. “And I began to notice that the more I gave away, the more abundance I was experiencing for myself.”
By the 29th day of her experiment — which saw such humble offerings as a Kleenex and a handful of change to feed someone’s parking meter — Walker’s health and happiness had both improved.
“I found myself smiling and laughing more,” she remembers, on her website. “My body got stronger and I was able to stop walking with my cane by Day 14.”
And in perhaps the ultimate act of generosity, Walker has shared this valuable lesson with the rest of us.
In 2010, she chronicled the experience in a book, 29 Gifts: How a Month of Giving Can Change Your Life. In it, she draws deeply from her trials with this chronic neurological condition, and takes readers on a journey of enlightenment that concludes with her conviction that giving and receiving are two sides of the same precious coin.