Keep the Old, Donate the New

Often what we call generosity is little more than dressed up materialism: "If I clean out my closets and donate the old clothes, then I can get more new stuff for ME."

While there's nothing wrong with donating old items to charity (and if the items are usable, it's a much better option than throwing them away), consider your motives when giving.

If a wishlist for a homeless shelter includes a coffee maker, and yours works perfectly well, keep yours and donate a brand new one.

Dignity is not just affirmed through words, but also through actions. Donating new items shows people that you believe they are worth spending money on and that they are worthy of having nice things.

When people feel worthy, their lives begin to change.

Originally published March 2015

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

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

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.