Generosity and joy

Generosity brings happiness at every stage of its expression.

We experience joy in forming the intention to be generous.

We experience joy in the actual act of giving something.

And we experience joy in remembering the fact that we have given. The Buddha.

Sometimes you find you come across the same message again and again. For me this week the message was all about generosity, and as the quote from the Buddha illustrates beautifully there is much joy to be gained in and from acts of generosity.

So, this week I found myself reading about the positive benefits of being in service to others, i.e. volunteering as an act of generosity; and then there was Chris Guillebeau’s encouragement to ‘first up, do one thing for someone else’. Rather than making what he (rightly) calls the ‘false choice to help no-one’, perhaps because we can’t be bothered, or we are too busy, too skint or simply prefer to walk on by – why not choose one person or cause that you can help today?

It doesn’t have to be about money. Generosity can come in many guises, even a simple heartfelt smile or helping someone carry their shopping can mean more than something money could buy. Chris’ post reminded me of the need to stay open to those small opportunities to help. No matter how small they might seem to you, all of these tiny acts of kindness add up to something greater than the acts themselves.

Caroline Myss has argued that service to others is a biological necessity, and there are no doubt many more writers in this field and other fields commending the same approach. But, I really like the quote used by Myss: We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee. (Marian Wright Edelman).

The challenge these writers have posed for me this week is to ignore or override the feeling of powerlessness, the little nagging inner voice that tries to steal the moment of generosity away before I can act out on a spontaneous thought or impluse. The challenge is to stay open to all of these wonderful opportunities to help, and to know that no matter how small an act or donation it might seem to us at the time, following through on a decision to act is so much more than the action itself.

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