Hi there! I have some Soul Food thoughts to share with you, and I’m going to start with a question:
When you hear the word “generosity,” what do you think of?
Many folks think of money. So-and-so gives generously to this non-profit. That guy is a generous tipper. This gal is generous with her kids. Money is indeed a vehicle with which we can express generosity. But generosity not only expands beyond money, but can become even more powerful through other vehicles of expression. Let’s back up, though, and be curious about what generosity is.
Generosity is the selfless act of extending kindness and sharing to others. It’s the sharing of our resources, time, heart, and spirit with other people, with animals, and with our planet – with our intentions focused on the other person/group/entity, and not ourselves. Generosity also finds us imagining the best in the intentions of others.
Money and possessions are resources, so they can definitely be used to express generosity, as we explored earlier. The person in the photo above is sharing the resource of food. Mother Theresa was generous with her time, heart, and her spirit. A person volunteering their time to work at a homeless shelter is generous with their time. A person sitting on the train and listening to their seat-mate’s tale of woe is being generous of heart. So you see, generosity can be shared via many vehicles.
“Generosity also finds us imagining the best in the intentions of others.” What do I mean by this?! This is a specific type of heart/mind generosity. For example, when someone lets us down, we choose generous thoughts to explain it. Instead of thinking that my friend didn’t call me back because he?s unreliable and rude, I can choose a more generous thought such as, ?I hope everything?s okay with him,” or, “maybe he didn?t get my message.? I may find out that he was being unreliable and rude, but even in that case, leading with generous thoughts brings me peace in the meantime. And I lead with generosity of heart/mind when I next speak to him, being curious about why he didn’t call back.
And guess what’s extra-cool? Generosity is as good for the giver as it is for the receiver(s). It lights up regions of our brain that are associated with pleasure, social connection, and trust. This makes us feel all yummy inside, improving our happiness, mental health, and well-being. So although generosity, by definition, is not about ME, it turns out that it’s pretty darn good for me, as well as the receiver(s)! Meanwhile, the receiver of your generosity is much more likely to turn around and practice generosity to others. Generosity is contagious!
What small shifts could you make in your everyday life that offer some generosity to others? Where could you lend some time, heart, or spirit – yes, or money – to the well-being of someone or something outside of yourself?
Generosity is a simple practice with big results. A little generosity goes a long way, and our world could use a little generous lovin’.
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