generosity

My forth coming book, Free Lark is with the formatter and will be available both digitally and in print shortly! To give you a sneak peek at just one of the many concepts introduced in the book I offer you the generosity paradox.

When you reflect on the many famous quotes and expressions about giving; the old wives tales, the parables and the scriptures, they all say the same thing. “It is in giving that we receive”.  Could that really be true? Is it one for one? How does it work? What if I give and then am left short and without? Is this a risky proposition? Well it turns out the more risky proposition lies in taking, which results in a quick trip to the short end of the stick if you want to speak in terms of expressions!

Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson of the Science of Generosity Initiative at Notre Dame (and authors of the book “Generosity Paradox”) researched 2,000 participants over a 5 year time span to better understand both the concept and ramifications of generosity. They found that through sustained, authentic generosity, participants flourished in a variety of ways. Meanwhile those who fell under the category of takers and hoarders literally were left at a loss. So our expressions and parables are not just philosophical teachings but sociological facts.

Harvard Business school professor Michael Norton has a wide variety of fascinating studies related to social/behavioral sciences & marketing and money as well as a great Ted talk on Generosity. In fact, many scholars have studied generosity uncovering its relationship to well-being and flourishing. It has been found time and again that generosity not only promotes good feelings but also physical, mental and relationship health. Generosity has been shown to alleviate fear and even elevate immune functioning. Clearly being consistently generous in nature is a very important element of a well-rounded life.  

Just as giving money is not the only way to be generous, earning money is not the goal of generosity (or even life for that matter).  When it comes to giving, money is one of the first things many people struggle with. Like all forms of generosity there is the function of sowing and reaping, or what comes around goes around. Still there are so many rewarding ways to become more giving and enjoy the benefits of generosity. Here is a starter list and I would love to hear your ideas and experiences with giving in the comments!

Ways to practice generosity:

Giving your time

Giving your expertise

Giving love & kindness

Giving encouragement

Give access such as making connections between people

Give the gift of listening, lend an ear

Give surprises, leave flowers on a neighbors doorstep or drop a quarter in a meter that is about to expire

Donate space or resources

Donate goods and things you no longer need

Comment