A Gifts-Based Approach to Life

Creating a Meaningful Life

Every person comes here as a gift and full of gifts. As we learn to identify and “try out” our gifts, other people become a sort of mirror, reflecting back to us their response to our gifts. As we find places with people that accept and appreciate our gifts, this creates a meaningful life. When our gifts are used in an appreciative context, they infuse our lives with richness and meaning; creating a sense of belonging and purpose. For each and every gift, there is a place that needs that gift.






Check out ClubEXPLORE!, a gifts-based process of creating a meaningful life.  https://clubexplore.wordpress.com/ 






What are Gifts???

Gifts are all of the broad range of abilities, talents, character traits, etc, that we are born with and that this world needs; that we can give and that others can receive. Gifts are often very simple things, like a smile or a person’s presence. Henri Nouwen tells of a man in his book Adam that he cared for. This man could not get himself up, bathe himself, gift-snowdress himself, or feed himself in order to begin his day. Henri says that at a time when he  was at a very low point in his life, he became the care giver to Adam. Henri used his talents and gifts to provide for the needs of Adam. But it was Adam that gave the greatest gift to Henri at a time when he needed it most. It was Adam’s accepting and unconditional presence that allowed Henri to begin to heal. Adam breathed new life into Henri by simply being present in a way that no one else could be with Henri.

Gifts of the Head

Things I know something about and would enjoy talking about with others (example: art, history, movies, birds)

Gifts of the Hands

Things or skills I know how to do and would like to share with others (example: carpentry, sports, gardening, cooking)

Gifts of the Heart

Things I care deeply about (example: protection of the environment, social justice, children etc)

Three Core Questions

discovery processAt the Core of the Discovery Process, we are unfolding three questions that are at the core of all meaningful human existence. Intertwined throughout these questions are two more questions: What are my gifts? How and where am I using them?

  1.  Who Am I? (My Identity)
  2. Why Am I Here? (My Purpose)
  3. What Am I Going To Do About It? (My Mission)

Great Resources:

Beautiful Justice

BEAUTIFUL JUSTICE: the art of person centered planning
By Beth Mount, a founder of person centered planning


“As fellow participants in an imperfect community many persons with disabilities have valuable gifts to offer. Some show a capacity to take a great deal of satisfaction from very simple everyday occurrences. The unusual behavior of others can be a contribution to those who find society’s restricted codes too tight for self-expression. The silent ones may be the best listeners. The very presence of many people with handicaps is a means out of the overwhelming individualism imposed by society’s norms. Then there is an unlimited number of possible gifts that individually each person with a handicap can develop, like everyone, the nature of which can only be determined by those who stand close enough to watch, listen, care and share. Welcoming into community those who have been excluded and recreating community so that these people’s giftedness becomes part of everyday life – this is the strong road to building the capacity of communities everywhere.” (Judith Snow)

“Our society is not set up to cope very well with people who are weaker or slower. More important, we are not skilled at listening to the wisdom of those whose life patterns are outside of the social norm.” (Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, p. 46)

‎”For me, society must, by definition, be inclusive of the needs and gifts of all its members; how can we lay claim to making an open and friendly society where human rights are respected and fostered when, by the values we teach and foster, we systematically exclude segments of our population?

“I believe that those we most often exclude from the normal life of society, people with disabilities, have profound lessons to teach us. When we do include them, they add richly to our lives and add immensely to our world.” (Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, p. 45)

Judith Snow’s Gifts List

by Judith Snow on July 1, 2010

Notes on the Gifts and Assets That People Who Are Vulnerable to Rejection Commonly Bring to Community

by Judith Snow


  • making people feel happy
  • listening


  • slowing people down, reorienting people to time and place
  • leading people to appreciate simple things
  • causing people to appreciate their own abilities

Skill Building

  • pushing people to be better problem solvers
  • causing people to try things they’ve never done before
  • causing people to research things they never encountered before
  • improving education
  • improving technology
  • modeling perseverance – being unstoppable


  • reaching out to people and breaking down barriers
  • asking questions that everyone else is too shy to ask
  • bringing people together who otherwise would never meet

The Economy

  • providing jobs to people who want supplemental income, like artists
  • providing jobs to people who need to work odd schedules like homemakers
  • providing jobs to people who otherwise have few or no marketable skills
  • filling odd niches
  • providing a home, bringing people home


  • often modeling exemplary forgiveness
  • offering opportunities to do something that clearly makes a difference
  • reorienting values from accumulation to relationships
  • making people more peaceful


“Some gifts appear to be empty in the sense that they are not about doing things, they are about holding spaces, asking questions, and inviting people in to be part of community, part of relationship. And those gifts are, in many ways the most powerful although still often not recognized for their power.” (Judith Snow)

Live powerfully - Snow

The Path to Freedom ~~ the road home



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