Whether we want it or not we are all greedy by nature. From the moment we are born and to the last day of our life we constantly have an unsatisfied hunger to possess more than we have. Greed is a way for us to take care of our needs and to make sure that we have enough in life.
If you do not agree with me then look at any child. Children and especially babies do not have any social norms that they have to follow. All of their desires are engraved in them from birth. No matter whether it is a toy or extra 5 minutes of cuddling with Mommy or Daddy, children do not want to share it with anybody (even with their identical twins, I know it for certain :-)). As parents we teach them that it is good to share and to be generous, however generosity does not come naturally.
It is a fact that generous people are happier in life, they feel that their life is more meaningful and they appreciate it more. Being a generous person will help you feel better about yourself and the world around you. You do not have to be generous just because this is the right thing to do (this is what all parents tell their kids), you have to be generous to live a life of balance and deep joy. Being generous is something that you do for yourself and not only for somebody else.
We often associate generosity with money and wealth; however this is just the tip of the iceberg. Being generous does not only mean leaving a big tip at a restaurant or buying the most expensive gifts for Christmas. Generosity is all about giving and you can give your time, attention, love, help, and a smile as much as you can give money and stuff.
Cultivating the spirit of generosity can be an eye-opening experience for you because you will see in how many areas of your life you weren’t generous enough. If you open your heart to the world around you and start giving more to it then you will notice how much more you will receive in return. Are you ready to become a more generous person? Try some of these tips and see how they will change your life.
- Be generous to yourself. Before you can become generous to others you need to learn to be generous to yourself. You need to take care of yourself and your needs not only materialistically but also spiritually and emotionally (do not pinch a penny until it bleeds). Be generous at giving yourself time to relax or enjoy a hobby. Be generous at spending money on your health and well-being. Be generous at acknowledging your importance in this world.
- Start by giving a little (and not giving money). Have you had one of those days when everything goes wrong and every minute brings you only more misery? Could this day be any better if you had gotten a few nice smiles from people in the line at the store or from a sales assistant and a teller at the bank? One of the smallest (and cheapest) things you can give to others is your smile, so start your generosity program by smiling to everybody at least for a day. Notice how different it will make you feel and how differently people will treat you. If such a little thing can change so much, then how much will you change by giving your time and attention?
- Give what you feel comfortable giving. Generosity that does not come from the heart is not worth a nickel (in my opinion.) If you force yourself into giving much more than your heart wants to then you will feel miserable no matter what you do. If you are just learning to be generous then it is better to start with small steps. Give a dollar to a street artist whose performance you enjoyed. Give a few dollars to a church or charity (a shrewd person can find it helpful to use this donation for tax purposes.) Give some of your stuff that you’ve never used to Good Will or donate it to any other local organization that helps people in need. Being generous does not need to be expensive if that’s what you are afraid of.
- Reflect frequently on what you have in life. Greed is an excessive desire to acquire or possess more than what one needs or deserves, especially with respect to material wealth (definition by Dictionary.com). Make a habit of thinking how much you already have in life and be grateful for it. Generosity will come as a result of the realization that your life is already full and you can make it fuller only by sharing it with others.
- Meditate frequently. Meditation is a great way to calm your mind and find your life purpose. The loving kindness meditation in particular will help you look at the entire world with love. We can be generous only when we experience a deep feeling of love for ourselves and for the world around us. Here is a simple yet powerful meditation that you can practice at any time and any place (this is a mediation that I have once found on GoodLifeZen ):
Step 1. Find a comfortable place where you can relax and where nothing troubles you. Sit in a comfortable meditation position
Step 2. Take one deep breath and feel the air entering your lungs and filling them with oxygen. Slowly breathe out and feel the stress and anxiety leaving your body. Repeat it a few more times until you feel relaxed and mentally clean.
Step 3. Slowly place your right hand on your heart area and feel the warmth and love that you have in your heart. Feel the love towards the entire world and think what this world has done for you.
Step 4. Sit in this position for a couple more minutes and continue breathing deeply. Pay attention to any changes in your body and mind. Finish this meditation with a deep breath and slowly take your hand away from your chest.
- Be aware of when you give throughout the day and when you resist giving. It will be much easier to cultivate the spirit of generosity if you realize when you are most likely to resist giving. Maybe you never give your entire attention to a person you are talking to. Maybe you never give your time to a colleague at work or your friend. Maybe you never give away your emotions (whether they are positive or negative). Once you notice the tendency to resist giving just be aware that there is always a choice. The spirit of generosity will slowly start emerging into this space.
- Look at the big picture. A lot of times we feel that we are too little to make any changes in this world and this makes us passive and apathetic. This apathy kills the spirit of generosity in us. Small things actually can make a difference, even if it is a difference only for one person. The spirit of generosity is also contagious, so if you show generosity towards one person then that person might show generosity towards somebody else. Look at how your small action can spread throughout the world and feel that you are a part of this world.
- Generosity is a gift that you give yourself in the first place. As I have already mentioned generous people are usually happier in life, they are more satisfied with their lives and they are healthier. I have found a wonderful list of benefits that generosity will give you at Becoming Minimalist.com so head over there to see how much better your life will be if you start giving more to others.
- Be generous to have more in life. When I was a teenager I was extremely interested in Feng Shui, so I had my entire room decorated according to the Feng Shui rules (it looked pretty funny, I must admit :-)) However, one thing that I remember from those times is that money is an energy that needs to be flowing. Whenever you spend money or give it to somebody without any particular reason you nourish the stream of energy that flows to you (and become richer personally.) I know that this is a point that a lot of people can disagree with, but I can tell that it has always helped me in life.
- Imagine how your gift will change somebody’s life. If you do not feel like giving at first think about how your gift can change a person’s life. If you make a donation to the Food bank then imagine happy faces of children who see candy and tasty treats at their table. Imagine how happy your kids will be if you give them a full day of your undivided attention and time. Imagine how much you will help a person who has lost his/her job by donating just a few hundred dollars. Imagine all the smiles and giggles that your little gift will bring. Aren’t you willing to help somebody right now?
The simple act of giving might be just the right thing that will shift your life scale into balance. You must give with an open heart but most likely giving will actually open your heart in the first place. Today is the best day to start being generous and to give more. Enjoy it and feel the pure freedom and happiness!
P.S. I would love to hear your experience of giving and being generous. Do you find this experience rewarding? I am looking forward to your comments.
Keep it balanced!