Is generosity only about giving gifts to our family members, our friends, our colleagues and to total strangers during festivals? Is it about giving money? We often read in the media of people donating money to charities, to the less fortunate, to the disadvantaged. Acts of philanthropy and altruism like those of Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are given much publicity. Wealthy benefactors all over the world donate large sums for the establishment of hospitals and buildings on university campuses and schools. They also set up foundations to help others. Is generosity all of this and more?

Generosity includes the contribution of our time, effort, talents or any other resource. According to the Oxford Dictionary, to be generous is to be magnanimous, noble-minded, not mean or prejudiced. I would like to expand this definition to include this comment. If you have an open mind, heart and spirit you will generously reach out and affect others.

Other Ways

A smile or an act of kindness can make many people happy. Do something good for someone each day. Buy a cup of tea for a friend or a co-worker. Bake a cake for your colleagues. Help a stranger on the road. Thank someone who has done something for you. Organise your family members to help your elderly neighbour with her chores. Stand aside and let someone who is in a hurry walk past you. Open and hold the door for someone. Be kind, respectful and sincere with everyone you meet. Send a card to encourage others. Give hope to others who are lonely, vulnerable and without much support.

“Generosity”, said the Dalai Lama “is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving kindness.” So be generous with love. Each day let your spouse and children know that they are loved, valued and cherished by you. Give your children a good hug. Hug other people as well. Hugs make others happy and help to release stress and tension.

When you are generous towards others you will listen and be interested in them. In conversations, during meetings and in public debates, generous people allow others to have their say, to speak up and to offer their views. People who only want attention for themselves are not being generous.

Generosity of Spirit

Another aspect of generosity is related to our attitude towards others and our approval of people. Compliment people about their work, their ideas, their creativity and talents. Celebrate their success just as you would your own. When we celebrate the happiness of others we demonstrate a generosity of spirit.

When we have generosity of spirit we are open in our interactions with others and we practice collaboration. We are willing to share information with others and we do not take credit for everything. Instead, we will share the credit with others. Generosity of spirit requires trust. It includes the desire for fairness and the practice of mutual respect. If we have generosity of spirit, problems can be solved easily and we can develop better relationships. Our work life will be more fulfilled and satisfied. If we all practice generosity of spirit, our communities, our society and the world would be a far happier place. Generosity brings about more generosity.

Two people who are recognized for their generosity of spirit are Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

Generosity and Peace

Generosity can also help to bring about peace. When we practice generosity towards each other, we avoid violence and revenge. We can learn to forgive one another and we can offer peace. Each of us can do something towards developing a peaceful world. Be kind, be generous in spirit and love everyone you meet. The world needs more generosity in thought, speech and action.

Developing Generosity

One practice that we can all apply immediately is to always give people the benefit of the doubt. If someone does something that may give you problems, or will make things difficult for you, just tell yourself that perhaps they had a reason for doing this. I know that this is difficult to do but we must try to do so. We can also learn to accept people for who they are, with all their faults and weaknesses. A third practice is to behave towards other people as they would like you so to do. There is no need to treat those who are not as intelligent as you in a disparaging manner. Finally, a good way to develop generosity of spirit is to consider being generous towards someone you do not like. You will emerge from this exercise feeling good and strong.

Start practising to think generously, speak generously and act generously. When you think well of people and when you speak well of them, you will be giving generously. If we do not practice generosity, we become too self-centred. When we share with others and when we give generously, we experience joy and happiness.

Be Generous

A newspaper article described the generosity of an outstanding individual named Munna in Sri Lanka as immeasurable. This man practised a number of simple self-made theories and policies. The one that impressed me and which I would like to advocate is “Help Ever, Hurt Never.” A simple expression which speaks volumes.

Let us all work together to help others with our time, our effort and our money. Let us practice the policy of not hurting anyone. Our generosity will flourish and we will enjoy much happiness and joy. I leave you with this saying from the Buddha, “A generous heart, kind speech and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.”

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