Being Generous When You Think You Can't and Why It Matters

Wedding at    Amangiri   . Photo by    Cameron Clark   .

Wedding at Amangiri. Photo by Cameron Clark.

Generous people change the world. Not because of what or how much they give, but because they are doers and see possibilities where others don't. 

There's a quote I love that says, "If you won't be generous with $10, you won't be generous with $10,000."

It's true. 

If you don't build up the muscle of generosity when it seems you don't have as much financially to give, that habit won't suddenly materialize when you have more.

If you're not used to giving or if it feels intimidating, it's okay. Just remember that nothing changes if nothing changes. Make a commitment to start small. Donate $1 from every sale you make this year, starting today. 

Smaller amounts do still make a difference to organizations, but more importantly, the act gets you in the habit of giving and begins to change you into a more generous person.

The phrase "give back" is often used in relation to generosity, but I'd encourage you to adopt a "give as you go" mantra instead. The world needs you and your commitment to an optimism that things can get better, now.

The Power of Gift Giving

We're now in the middle of December as well as in the middle of a season of generosity. It is my favorite time of year for this reason.

Yet for all of the cozy decor, hot cocoa, sufganiyot, and cheer, the holiday season often gets a bad rap. Rather, the gifts associated with the holidays get a bad rap. It's popular to paint the holiday focus on gifts as materialistic, but I believe that is a cynical, glass half-empty perspective.

Gifts celebrate a spirit of generosity. The very nature of giving a gift requires thinking of other people before ourselves and taking the time to select something we know the other person will enjoy.

Thoughtful gifting forces a shift from merely talking about the things we hold to be important to actually showing it through acts of generosity.

Isn't this what the holidays are about? Celebrating love by actively showing it?

Originally published December 2011

Becoming More Generous

It's impossible to have an open mind and a closed fist. Generosity requires an open mind, requires that we put ourselves in others' shoes, requires that we see that reality for some is different than the reality we may personally experience. 

If you want to be more generous, make sure that you haven't inadvertently built an echo chamber around you.

Read news from reputable outlets that may not be part of your usual routine or that may be to the right or left of your views.

Follow trustworthy people on Twitter or Facebook who you respect but may not always agree with.

Listen to the stories and perspectives of people who have lived life very differently than you have. 

Staying insulated with stories and news that are comfortable and familiar is a surefire way for your generosity muscle to atrophy and to only ever give from a place of superiority that views others as projects to be worked on or improved.

Being willing to listen to others and acknowledge their experiences as valid empowers you to give from a place that affirms dignity in a fellow human being.

Originally published 2013