It’s that time of year, where the tree is trimmed and Christmas is in every shop window enticing us to buy, Buy, BUY! Despite the commercialisation of Christmas there is an underpinning of good-will and generosity that permeates the air. So what is generosity and why is it so important?
For a start, people often view generosity as something that involves money. This is only one of the facets of generosity and depending upon your circumstances it is often the easiest one to enact. There is no reason you can’t be generous with your time, your attention, or your love. Generosity is more of an attitude of life rather than doing something at a point in time.
For example, there is nothing worse than talking to someone that is constantly looking at their phone. They are being a miser with their attention as they constantly tell you that someone else is more important than you are. It’s also just plain rude.
If a person is to be generous then it must be an act of free will. This seems obvious but have you ever been to a restaurant with someone where they’ve waited for you to pick up the tab? They’ve essentially stolen the joy of being generous by manipulating the situation for you to pay…..not cool.
A generous person also needs to be wealthy in what they are being generous with. If you’re time poor then you’re unlikely to be generous with your time…..you just can’t afford it. You may need to ask yourself why you are a pauper in that area of your life and work on how you can bring some flexibility to your schedule that allows you to become time rich.
So many people claim to be time poor but after a few minutes of talking with them you quickly realise they are this way because they consume their time on themselves rather than being generous to others. For example, how much time do you spend watching television, youtube or play games on your phone? Could you cut out just one of these activities and suddenly be in a position to bless others with your time?
For me, there is no faster way to destroy an evening out then when someone pulls out a calculator app to work out how much they should pay. It gets even worse when they ask the waiter for a menu so they can get their numbers down to the cent. But isn’t this fair? What’s the problem with that?
The real enemy of being generous is people who live a life of being fair. Being fair sounds so good until you realise that it removes all generosity. You see, generosity isn’t about being fair, in fact, it’s the polar opposite. Being generous is going above and beyond fair just because you want to bless someone else.
True generosity also means there are no strings attached. I know some people who act like they are being generous but carry a mental ledger of whom owes what to whom. This isn’t about being generous at all…..it’s about balancing the scales so everything is fair…..it’s also a lot how politicians behave.
I knew a couple that would literally keep track of who spent what amount of money on themselves so they could balance everything up. The wife bought some new clothes so the husband could then spend money on some technical gadget. Rather than being happy for the other person’s purchases they had a desire to balance the ledger…..sadly, the relationship broke apart.
One of the sad things about Christmas is it can dissolve into a time of obligations. I must buy a present for so-and-so because that’s what’s expected. The levels of expectations rise up and is one of the contributing factors for why Christmas is not very “merry” for many people.
The fastest way to put a smile on your face is to decide to be generous with your giving…..this doesn’t necessarily mean more money. It could be you spend the time making something. I’ve kept every birthday, Christmas and Father’s Day card that my kids have ever made for me.…..they are more precious than anything Hallmark could have produced. Maybe it’s time you dusted off your artistic skills?
If you ever want to do a “generosity health check” then do something for someone else where there is no possible way you can get anything in return. Don’t be a miser, go way over the top. Buy the groceries of the person in front of you at the store, give your favourite coat to a homeless person, pay for the McDonald’s of the car behind you in the drive through, anonymously donate money to a worthy cause, help a stranger with a broken down car or spend an afternoon with a nephew or niece.
One of the most amazing things about being generous is when you do so you will actually get more from the act then the person you are being generous to. It’s like magic! The feelings of well-being and happiness that envelopes you are worth every penny, second or effort the deed required. It’s only a few weeks until Christmas, decide to bring joy into the lives of those around you by being generous and receive a great gift in return……love.
We can all be a littler more generous.....we just need to practice harder.