The Practice of Generosity

The challenge of finding the best balance of generosity and joy (aka enjoyment) in life is always present, but it is especially highlighted during our annual holiday gift shopping season. Even though gift giving is not so generous if done out of a feeling of obligation, giving wrapped gifts is indeed one way to practice generosity. But a lot of us cannot afford to buy things, it’s wasteful when we do, and our older friends don’t need more things. So what to do?

They say that the wealthy are lucky in that they have a greater capacity to be generous. This is true on the material plane — and in many cases also in terms of time — but the practice of generosity is really always there for everyone but the starving. Everyone has something to give, if only a little of one’s time, if only one moment of kindness.

Experience teaches that the practice of generosity enlarges us. It also makes us more attractive. Generosity, even more than gratitude (to which it is related), is ‘the secret behind the secret’ of the power of attraction.

It’s never to late to start a regular practice of generosity. And, once you do, it doesn’t take a lot of time before you’ll find that giving is fulfilling and fun — actually more fun than taking. Generosity is even an aphrodisiac!

Generosity benefits from conscious practice. Here are a few rules of thumb:

  1. When you want to give someone something, first consider what kind of non-material type of gift you could give, perhaps something that involved a commitment of your time and energy.
  2. Give only what you can afford to give, and if you feel an important personal relationship will benefit from your giving, do it with no expectation of return. If you feel inspired to express some love to another person, make it a point to find a way to let them know. Giving is an excellent way.
  3. The best gifts are not any sort of wrapped thing, or any thing at all. Offering to do something for someone (how about a certificate they can redeem with you later?), or committing to making some time for them, can be much more meaningful than any material object that they might not even like! If you are not willing to commit to spending time with someone, in order to avoid creating false expectations, you probably shouldn’t give them what would be a token gift at all.

This is a wonderful time of the year to give and receive freely, which all starts with the practice of generosity. Enjoy!