27 July 2013 – Living with Generosity

Gift BoxAre you generous?  This is a question I have asked myself recently and my answer was ‘only sometimes’.  With wonderful friends and family who have serious generous streaks (I love the flowers I got out of the blue yesterday) that make me look like the Grinch at Christmas time, I thought it about time to tackle that question and maybe make some well intentioned changes.

So, as always, I started by defining generosity.  Using the Wikipedia definition : generosity is the habit of giving without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need. Often equated with charity as a virtue, generosity is widely accepted in society as a desirable trait.

I decided I desired that trait.

In thinking about this concept though, I added the word “thoughtful” into my own definition of generosity, to further separate it from basic giving.  Thoughtful giving involves consideration given to what the recipient may want or need to receive, as well as a focus on what the giver wants to give.  For example, giving something that you may not like but that suits the other person’s style may make you cringe a little, but that’s being truly generous (for those that need to know – I don’t like carnations!). 

So therefore it is my intention to be generous through the ‘act of thoughtful giving without expecting anything in return’.

This definition brings another important point to light, giving without expecting anything in return – otherwise known as unattached giving.  Not an easy task for some particularly as there is the human element of manners.  We have been taught as receivers’, the importance of manners and when something is done for us or given to us, we must say thank you.  So in turn, as a giver we therefore expect to receive a thank you and alas we have breached the golden rule, an expectation has been created in return for our giving.

This thank you is an acknowledgement to the giver.  But just how much of an acknowledgement is satisfactory, if for example you have spent considerable time and money on a gift, then a simple thanks may not be enough.  This ‘human element’ of giving/receiving may well be appropriate in most circumstances, but be mindful that it does not add value to the spiritual value of generosity.  It may even have a negative impact whereby if the perceived amount of acknowledgement for a gift is not received, i.e. if the receiver does not fulfill the giver’s expectations, it may make the giver in the future, think twice about being generous.

So to be truly generous, to truly give something of yourself to someone else, expect nothing in return, only the knowledge that you have made their lives that little bit easier or that little bit more enjoyable and in this knowledge you are rewarded for your generosity.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it, but why do we find the art of unattached giving so difficult.  Perhaps it is a question of perception of abundance vs scarcity.

Living life in apparent abundance ensures you experience all that is, in all its glory.  It is based on your own belief, your perception that your resources are unlimited, that at any point in time, you have all that you need.

Living life in apparent scarcity is a principal based on the belief that life is a struggle, that resources are limited and there is not enough to go around.  Giving is harder to do and creates a need for acknowledgment of the sacrifice you have made for someone else.  This is closely followed by feelings of resentment and self pity, envy, greed, jealousy and the need for control, a possessiveness and protectiveness associated with your assets and a life that feels incomplete.

If this is you, if any of this sounds like you, STOP RIGHT NOW, and ask yourself, do I have everything I need to live my life.

The secret is to truly believe and trust you have come this far with unlimited resources and that you have always been provided for.

And so for me, I resolve to be happy to contribute for love and in the knowledge this will bring joy to others.  I resolve to give from a point of selflessness and give of myself which will in turn enrich my own life.

I do so in the knowledge that generosity on its own brings joy – and that money, possessions, possessiveness do not.