When you think of what being a better person means, I’m guessing that being generous and giving are one of the first things that pops to mind.
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Why is that?
Well, being generous shows you care. It shows that you acknowledge and want to reduce someone else’s suffering. Or to help give them something they need. If we look a little more deeply, being generous demonstrates that you believe in your own power to do good and to create positive changes in others and in the world at large. And when you believe in your own power to do good, you are naturally more willing and excited to put that power to use.
Generosity is a virtue, but it isn’t completely selfless. The funny paradox about giving is that it feels really good to help others. And those good feelings help energize you in all parts of your life. And when your energy gets raised, you help the people around you raise their game and their energy too.
One of my favorite quotes about giving is from Maya Angelou, who said, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”
In addition to being good for your soul, giving is good for physical and mental health, too. Studies have found that giving your time, money, and energy to others.
So those physical and mental benefits of giving that have been demonstrated by research are that it:
- Lowers blood pressure.
- Increases self-esteem.
- Reduces depression.
- Decreases stress levels.
- Is associated with living longer.
- And produces greater feelings of happiness and satisfaction.
I remember the first year that my daughter got me a Christmas present
She was 5 or 6, and she found a painting of sunflowers on the side of the road on her way home from the bus stop one day. So she wrapped it up and put it under the tree. And her Christmas enthusiasm that year was OFF the CHARTS! All because she wanted to give me that painting. It was so, so sweet, and a great reminder of the pure joy that can come from giving. Especially when you’re not bogged down in worrying that you got the right thing, but that’s another episode.
Why does giving feel good?
It has to do with your energy--not as in pep or stamina, but as in vibration or state of being. Being of service and focusing on giving to others is a higher energy level than the energy states that a lot of people can easily get trapped in, including apathy, resignation, anger, irritability, looking out for number one, or rationalizing.
When you give you aren’t centering yourself. It gets you out of your typical thought patterns and helps you focus on what you could do to help someone else. And that is enlivening.
You don’t even have to be actually doing a generous act in order to be in the energy of giving. Even if you don’t recognize a need you can head into a situation with the intention of being of service and it’s going to energize you.
Daily Tiny Assignment
SO, your tiny assignment is at some point in the next 24 hours to approach a situation with the simple intention to be of service.
Something to keep in mind is that you’re not looking for the “right” thing to do—because it’s easy to get stuck in trying to figure out what the exact right thing is. And there may be multiple things that would be helpful, and not one ‘right’ thing.
Just look for an opportunity to be helpful–whether you do something big, small, or somewhere in between it doesn’t matter. This isn’t a giving competition. If you aren’t sure what would be useful, ask, “How can I be of help?”
Come back tomorrow, when I’m diving into the very many ways you can give–not just time and money, as so many of us assume. Talk to you then.