Do you define yourself as a generous person? In our hearts, we all know how important it is to share and give to others (and how good it makes us feel when we do). I know that many days I succeed in only living selfishly, but many experts agree that generosity is a practice that simply takes time. Below I’d like to share 7 ways to practice generosity to make it part of your daily life.
There are a number of simple steps that we can take to practice generosity and to be more intentional in our lives. If you have never given away any money or your time, this would be a great way to get started (no matter what your current economic situation). On the other hand, if you are just hoping to raise the level of generosity in your life, you will find some of these simple steps to be relevant and helpful.
Make a Gratitude List
This is a great way to start your morning. Create a list of five things that you are grateful for today. You’ll be surprised how your mood shifts upon making the list. After finishing, notice that many of the things you are grateful for were gifts to you from some other hand. How can you return the favor to share your grateful life with others?
Start With a $1
If you’ve never given money away, don’t worry. Start small! You may donate online to charity or in person for only a $1.00. The point of this exercise is to get you started. If you feel more comfortable giving, $5, $10, or $20, start there. It’s that little push that can help you build momentum in your life towards generosity.
Look for Opportunities
So often we miss the small everyday opportunities to practice generosity. Does your neighbor need help with their lawn being mowed? Could your co-worker use a positive word of encouragement? When you practice generosity it doesn’t need to be big. Sometimes a small act can make a big difference in somebody’s life.
Reach Out to Someone Who’s Lonely
Mother Theresa once said that loneliness is the greatest kind of poverty. And there are lonely people everywhere – in our neighborhoods, schools, churches, streets, even the grocery store. We don’t always know who is lonely, but we can be kind to strangers, offer a smile or a helping hand. Also, think about regularly reaching out to relatives and friends who live alone or are going through hard times.
This may surprise you, but upon doing a good deed it’s important to be open to the people who express appreciation toward you. Generosity is a two-way street and allowing someone to express their gratitude is an important aspect of generosity and part of what makes you feel closer to them.
As researchers in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina have discovered, “The emotion of gratitude uniquely functions to build a high-quality relationship between a grateful person and the target of his or her gratitude.” So it’s important to not brush off a “thank you” with comments like “Oh, it was nothing.”
Give to Yourself
Generosity is the antidote to greed and selfishness, but it’s difficult to be generous to others if you’re not being good to yourself.
So give yourself time to love and play, says psychiatrist Dr. Michael McGee. In his practice, he encourages people to eat healthily, sleep, exercise, and just relax. As he states it, “The world needs you to be healthy and vital. However, Dr. McGee warns to not cross over into greed and self-preoccupation as you practice self-care.”
Live a More Minimalist Life
Joshua Becker, author of “The Minimalist Home”, encourages people to intentionally own less. Oh sure, living a minimalist life won’t automatically make you a more generous person, Becker says. However, it will provide the space necessary to make it possible. You’ll spend less money on things at the department store and more time and energy to help with others. In short, you’ll discover the need for generosity.
What simple steps have you incorporated into your life to practice generosity? I’d love to hear your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, click here to discover another great article entitled The Health Benefits of Positive Thinking. Please be sure to subscribe below to our newsletter to receive more great tips straight to your inbox each Friday.