9 Ways Generous People See the World Differently


“Give what you have. To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.” ―Henry Longfellow

Generosity makes our world a better place. It improves the life of the receiver. And it improves the life of the giver. Yet, despite the benefits, generosity is still too rare in our world today.

Instead, our society craves and pursues more at every turn. We seek enjoyment by directing most of our resources towards our own pursuits: security, possessions, experiences, enjoyment, and luxury. Meanwhile, significant opportunities for generosity surround us every day at every turn. In order to unconform our thinking in a consumer-driven world and begin taking greater advantage of the abundant benefits of generosity, we need to shift our worldview.

Consider then, these 9 ways generous people see the world differently:

1. They recognize the resource pie is not finite.

The mindset of competition—that my resources only grow when someone else’s shrinks—is based on a faulty premise. It assumes there is a finite sized pie and if someone else enjoys success, my opportunity shrinks. But quite frankly, this thinking is incorrect. The pie of resources is not finite. It continues to grow as society benefits from others’ success.

2. They know that generosity leads to greater happiness.

Studies confirm what generous people already know: Giving increases happiness, fulfillment, and purpose in the life of the giver. We were not designed to be creatures of selfishness. Instead, we were designed to seek and discover happiness in loving and caring for others. And those who decide to look for fulfillment there, quickly discover it.

3. They find success in helping others succeed.

The easiest path to finding success in your life is to help someone else find theirs. After all, our contribution to this world has to be measured by something more significant than the size of our savings account. Our lives are going to find their greatest significance in how we choose to live them—and how we enable others to live theirs.

4. They believe changing even one life is worthwhile.

Generous people are quick to admit the world’s problems will never be solved by one person… and perhaps, never completely solved even in the future. But perfection does not slow them. To them, changing even one life within their sphere of influence is reward enough. And is a worth endeavor to be sought.

5. They trust others.

Generosity always requires trust. To invest individual resources into another person, we must believe, on some level, that they will use them wisely. Generous people are optimistic. And optimistic people are happy people because they choose to live in a world where belief in others is liberally employed.

6. They dream big dreams for their money.

Our money is only as valuable as what we choose to spend it on. Generous people use their excess to bring big dreams into reality. Our financial resources can be used to improve the quality of life for others. They can be used to make our communities safer, smarter, and more responsible. They can be used to make this world a little more pleasant for everyone. Indeed, generous people dream big dreams for their money… and so should we.

7. They see more resources to give than money.

We have so much more to offer this world than just financial resources. We have time, talents, experiences, and lessons learned. Giving people think beyond their money and begin to invest their lives into others. Often times, this step can be more difficult than signing a check… but usually, it is more desperately needed.

8. They fully embrace the reality that life is short.

Life is short. And we only get one shot at it. Those who fully embrace this reality learn to live life in light of it. They recognize we have but a short time to leave our imprint on this world. And they cheerfully give their resources to accomplish it.

9. They are content to live with less.

By definition, true generosity requires a level of contentment. It recognizes the reality that giving our resources to another person means we have less for ourselves. In this way, contentment forms the foundation for generosity. But in response, surprisingly enough, generosity also becomes the fuel for greater contentment.

Our world is desperately seeking cheerful and generous givers. They improve society. They inspire us. They push us forward. And their view of the world is one I desire to further grow in my own life.

Image: Chris Yarzab

Joshua Becker

About Joshua Becker

Writer. Inspiring others to live more by owning less.
Bestselling author of Simplify & Clutterfree with Kids.

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  1. says

    Number three is perhaps the most powerful, at least to me. Not only are they encouraging but they personally invest in others and consider themselves as succeeding if the other does. That is empathy on a very strong scale and it’s a rewarding feeling.

    • says

      Well, whilst #3 may seem powerful to you, realistically the people that you give money to are never successful. It’s nice to be ‘generous’, but it’s not much use when the people that you donate to just blow your cash on drugs and alcohol…

      • Kat says

        maybe thats all they have to get thru the day, dont judge what the person uses the money for, it brings you good Karma just by giving it.

        • says

          You are absolutely right Kat, giving is for free with no attatchments or conditions . just to give is enough as long as it is with unconditional love xxx

          • Joanna Irwin says

            Yes yes yes…. We can’t decide for them what to do with our gift we have free will, but it’s the love of giving that counts.

        • julia says

          that’s very nice in a leftie kind of way, you’ll find the wealthy (i’m not talking about horrible greedy corporate ‘wealthy’, i mean those who worked hard from nothing to get to the top, don’t confuse the two groups) will help those who want to be helped, who truly want to lift themselves up. i get no joy from giving to others who don’t want to learn, grow or become useful citizens (and thus in turn, help others).

      • Jovan Nikolic says

        It is very complicated phenomenon because generosity is greatly in relation to belief in human race, humanity and overall – “happiness”. It is all matter of viewpoint, philosophically.

        If you’re nihilist – you’ll see no meaning in that action. If you’re altruist – you’ll see a lot in that kind of action. Those are just an examples.

        • says

          It’s not completely a matter of viewpoint. In some cases, so-called ‘generosity’ causes the recipient to be in a worse situation than before. I’m a realist, not an altruist or nihilist. I’m not interested in big ideas, only the direct results of my actions, which is why I find this article erring on the fluffy side.

          • laura m. says

            greenminimalism: I do agree w/comment, however as older people accumulate things over time like me as I’ retired, they see items not needed, no longer used thus giving to charities, friends, relatives is only alternative. I have zero patience for yard sales now, but didn’t in the 70’s and 80’s when I needed the money way more then from sales. As for giving money, yes we must be real discerning, wise.

          • inahaze says

            I give money to all street performers and to many others. I remember the bible verses that says in 2 Corinthians 9:7
            Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

            I will not judge you greenminimalism for your opinion as i am sure you give cheerfully in other ways.

      • gary says

        When I first moved to the city, I said the same remark to the guy I was dating “if I give that guy panhandling money, he is just going to buy booze”. He replied, “So what? No matter what his story is, your life is infinitely better than his right now”.

        That hit home with me. I don’t give money to everyone rattling a cup on the sidewalk. But there is this guy that I pass every morning going to the subway that simply says “Good Morning!” even if I don’t give him money, I smile and say “Good Morning!” every time. We can’t loose our humanity.

      • Debbie says

        Agree 1000%. You are not generous giving an alcoholic or drug addict money. It has caused one death on the family & a second is working on it. I carry small amount gift cards & give them out.

      • Roberto says

        It is imperative for us who are generous to pray hard and seek guidance whom we help because not all are worthy to be helped instead of being a blessings it become a cursed.

      • terra says

        Helping someone to be successful does not have to be monetary at all. And there is no suggestion in #3 that you are giving blindly. I think it is more about helping others, be it through mentoring, kind words, tutoring, giving work to someone with potential but needs to build experience, skill, etc. that is more relevant to #3.

        I had a practicum placement and the woman I was assisting was a true leader. She was very generous; trusting me to the tasks (as I was learning how to do them),

        • terra says

          how to do them), giving me independence.. suggesting I make a portfolio, showing me hers..

          Even after the interview with her, despite not knowing whether or not I would get the job, she went over my resume & cover letter with me and suggested changes. I was impressed & so grateful for this woman. That is generousity embodied.

          You never forget people like that.

      • janene martinez says

        Not necessarily, there were two homeless men that used to come into the donut shop about 5:30 each morning. They bought plain donuts and coffee to help warm themselves and to quiet their stomachs. They would meet the 6 am crowd and ask quietly for money. Then suddenly they were gone. Seven weeks went by before I saw them again. They had used the money they were given to make their way to LA and would stand on the street corner with signs asking for work. They took whatever jobs they could get and would meet again every night to find a place to sleep, and to watch out for each other. After two weeks they met a ma that took them to work for a day and they worked hard enough that he allowed them to spend the night. After a few more days of hard grungy but well paid work the man offered them both jobs, well paid jobs if they worked hard. After two regular pay checks they had gotten new clothes to work in and had enough money to return to town. They said they just came by to say hello, and as they left they quietly passed out money to others that were still trying to get out of the homeless cycle, before they returned to their new life and the jobs they had prayed for and earned with a little help with money, their hard work, honesty and willingness to keep trying. Not all donations are wasted. Please remember that, and for those that do use the money poorly, well, what goes around comes around so I leave that to fate, as I would rather give money to 5 people that don’t need it that to deny one that truly does need it.

      • says

        That’s not true of everyone. It’s only your belief. If that’s your belief offer to take them for a cup of tea and something to eat instead or take then a sandwich. Take the time to talk. Sometimes all it takes is one person to take the time and believe in another person.

      • robyn says

        You could research what charities are trustful to give to, protest for higher taxes for yourself and the other rich-thank you Warran Buffet, you could support a genorous canidate for political office and if there are none or if you want to run for president-you can run yourself!

  2. says

    This is very true. I used to struggle with giving away money, because I “needed” it for myself. Which is, I was buying too much stuff I didn’t really need. I started to give away more when I snapped out of that selfish mindset, greed if you will. Minimalism helps with that, because it makes you want to give away your stuff, not buy more. And when I didn’t “need” so much money anymore, it became easier to give it away. My journey to a minimalist lifestyle coincided with having my faith renewed, and my values becoming more geared toward taking an action for what I stand for. Interestingly, our financial situation is better than ever. And I’m happy – not only because it makes our lives easier, but because it allows me to give even more. I am blessed to have a safe home, enough clothes and food, and even occasional luxuries like trips. None of the nice stuff I buy is coming with me in the end. It doesn’t matter if my home is perfectly decorated or my clothes are hip. The last shirt has no pockets. My selfish enjoyment stings my heart when I allow myself to think about the poverty and suffering that abounds in the world. Giving has become joyful, and the right thing to do. My next wish is to also find a way to contribute some of my time as a volunteer.

  3. Denise says

    This is so nice to read!! My siblings and their spouses think that my husband and I are wrong to give items away. We don’t really like selling our used items and would much rather see someone who needs it, be blessed with the gift. In my family’s eyes, this isn’t sound judgement on our part. In our eyes, we are simply “passing it on!” Thank you for confirming what we already felt was right.

    • laura m. says

      Denise: I agree, as I tell people to look around their house, closets, etc. and see what you no longer used/need and donate to charities in your area, like group homes. I ran an ad for two weeks to sell a bedroom set; no luck, then I gave it to a group home along with an older printer and laptop. Clothing items no longer wanted/worn are always donated in good cond..

  4. says

    I love the way you focus on the positive, Joshua. You are so right that generosity improves the life of the giver. It helps us diminish attachment, which brings us so much more true happiness. When we die, we have to let go of everything. Good to get some practice now!

    • Roberto says

      Also, very true in my life, when I go on vacation I want to travel light. I am blessed Joshua to read your articles, it affirms what I want in life. Thank you and God bless.

  5. says

    This is all so true. Lately I’ve been focusing a lot on number 7. It’s amazing how easy it is to make someone’s day with just a minute or two of your time.

  6. says

    #4 is powerful. We might not all, as individuals, change the world. But helping one life is more than enough. Really loved reading this post. Uplifting.
    Bernadette :)

    • says

      I agree with #4. One person does something, then another, then another, then another and the next thing you know, 100 people have helped 100 people. Can’t fixate on small numbers for sure!

    • says

      There is no reason to post statements with no substance to them. At least show a little intelligence and write WHY do you think it’s new age bull crap?

      If you don’t like what you read, then close your browser and move on.

      • Nancy says

        Perhaps we should hope that xyz and big d will be on the needy end one day. Sometimes you have to walk in another’s shoes to fully understand the concept! When you believe the world revolves around you it is hard to see any need. Those who have been there and been helped understand paying it forward.

  7. Angel says

    Today, in the local health food shop a customer told us about the time he was having a special birthday meal. A rich american was in the corner and when they came to pay the bill they were told it was already paid!! It gave us a lift just to hear about it!!

    Love the domino effect. What was your good deed today? Only one???


  8. DebRN says

    Great entry. I am a 60 year old grandmother just working three days a week. I love #6. I have big dreams for my money which is why I joyfully support Max McLean’s troupe, the director of Screwtape and other amazing C. S Lewis productions among various other missions. Max’s work is an example of what is right in the world, whereas most of the other things we support, reflect what is wrong with the world. I am very encouraged by your writing.

  9. says

    Number 1 is important.

    To understand the consciousness of lack take for example medieval times. If you had said we need to feed 20x the population we have now they would have looked at the land and how much food they could produce on it and say thats an impossibility we only have this finite amount of food that can be produced. But today on the same amount of land we produce plenty for that amount of people and yet if the same question was posed the same medieval answer is given for they live in a finite state of mind. Not recognising the deeper laws that govern reality. Namley mind over matter. Resources maybe finite but creativity is not, it is infinite and it will innovate and create and there will be enough food to feed 10billion +. Be aware of all the population reduction messages and general messages of lack you receive from your chosen leaders for they are casting the spell of artificial lack into your mind which will create that reality of lack if believed in.

  10. big d says

    Generosity as we know it, giving away of something you have no need for or of something you have in excess, should be “outlawed” or condemned. It violates the natural law of economics which states that you can’t get something for nothing unless you steal it. The only thing that is truly and naturally “yours” is your body and the ground that it stands on. You can’t be generous with these by giving either of these away for nothing. If you do your status becomes that of a slave. There has to be an exchange of labor in all equitable human interaction. Generosity violates this “fair market” exchange.

    • says

      Not every thing is about “market forces” big d and there is nothing” natural” about economics ,Stealing would not exist if we gave freely of ourselves and good’s .without condition Generosity on the other hand is higher state of being usually found in people who have evolved sufficiently to see all is not about money and possessions.

    • Janice says

      Big d: is that really what ‘generosity as we know it’ is? I disagree. People who volunteer to help others are generous: they are giving their time – definitely not a throw-away commodity – as well as their skills and knowledge, both ‘parts’ of their bodies since these exist in their brains. Giving freely of either would not make them slaves. I believe there is an exchange of labor, just not that the volunteer becomes the direct recipient of the exchange; someone else down the road is, the pay-it-forward idea. That a volunteer can pass on labor only reflects that some time in the past, he/she was a recipient of someone else’s labor.

    • jaci says

      big d, generosity does not violate the “fair market” exchange, humans do. God blessed me with a creative mind and I have been sewing since I was 8 years old (44 years). People are always saying, you should use this talent to make money. Well guess what? No one wants to pay you for your time. We all act like it is terrible that children are making our clothes for slave wages in sweat shops in other countries, yet no one wants to pay more for their clothing. Several years ago a friend offered to pay me to make her teenage daughter an elaborate Halloween costume. It took me 10 hours to complete and she gave me $20 and acted like that was a big deal. It hurt me deeply that she thought my time was only worth $2 and hour, especially when I was in a tight spot and she could afford to pay me better. So from that point forward, I decided that my gift would be shared as a gift to anyone I felt deserving. Trust me, I get much more satisfaction and joy when my time is spent this way.

  11. says

    Hi Joshua:

    What a wonderful entry! I have just written a book on generosity titled Inspiring Generosity, that will be out early in 2014. If you send me your address (barbara@barbarabonner.org) I’ll make sure to send you a copy.

    Wonderful work. We see this so similarly.



  12. Jean says

    Just reading comments from others already shows how happy that person is or is not. I find so much more joy in sharing in any way I can, even letting someone in line ahead of me, a very small thing indeed. They are happy, the people around who notice enjoy it, the cashier is happy noticing this and it makes me feel good. Then the person turns around and thanks me again. So I keep getting residuals from a very small gesture. Maybe one day one of those people who do not enjoy giving may have someone help them and give to them and in turn may realize the joy and happiness in that gesture. If not….well ….. then not. It is a choice……..

  13. Gaura says

    Beautiful article, practical spirituality. We need more articles like that. Bhagavad Gita clearly says that donations, austerities and acquiring knowledge never should be given up. What you give from the heart, will come back at least in the same amount. Poor people are more generous then rich, but they are much richer in consciousness. I have seen here in India. People who have nothing don’t lock there door, everyone is welcome. But as soon as they have a television, a fridge,…. privacy comes. Association with Sadhus is very important in spiritual life. Real sadhus will go the houses to beg where the door is open.

  14. Genene says

    In a time where the churches are telling us to give generously…
    It is a crime to feed the homeless people, in public or private…
    Don’t give to the church ….give to the homeless…everyone…
    if you have something and do not need it…give it to someone who does…
    they will feel grateful and you will feel fulfilled within your heart.
    Let’s keep our heart open….
    The churches don’t need it…they are rich.
    It is our brother or sister on the street, going through that bin for a bite to eat…
    buy them a meal, give it to them…
    You have a walking stick and you see someone struggling to walk…give them the walking stick….it really does keep our hearts open and ourselves humble….peace all.

  15. says

    My 88yr old mother, Rosalie comments : you can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving, she also says frequently: do your giving while you’re living then you’re know’in where it’s go’in
    I have found it is more blessed to give than to receive, but think seriously about
    what will last for eternity, not just for now. Personally, I believe in the Bible alone, no other book. Jesus said, I am The Way, The Truth and The Life, no one comes to The Father but through me, people are the only ones we can take to Heaven with us.
    Of course, we are to be givers, Gods Word says it best, He gave all. No one took Jesus life, He gave it freely for us, what an example of giving!

  16. Janice says

    Thanks for this, Joshua. Every point strikes home for me, particularly at this time when I am pondering a big step to dedicate a larger chunk of my resources to share with others in my community.

  17. says

    These are very good points of generous people.

    It’s sometimes difficult to logically understand why should you limit at something when you can enjoy a pleasant moment right here, right now. It’s just they to be. It’s not logic.

    Most generous people I’ve met in my life are just awesome. They are easy to communicate and I feel comfortable in their company.

  18. says

    I deal with some very HNW strategic philanthropists and would add the following:

    10. Whether local, regional, national or international problems being solved, government is not a very effective or efficient charitable vehicle. Every possible tax dollar legally avoided, is another dollar that can be put to use in strategic philanthropy.

  19. says

    Diwali is the queen of all festivals. It unites the clan of our country as clan from all religions of India magnify it with measure ecstasy frenzy|enthusiasm}. Being one of the most of eld festivals of our country, diwali holds a sinewy traditionary and emotional value for every Indian. There are several traditions of the same nature to diwali which are practiced every year on this happy f?ate. Wearing new vestments, cleaning abode and offices, praying to prince Ganesha and goddess Lakshmi ji, lighting diyas and candles followed by exchanging gifts with loved ones are belonging to all diwali rituals. But the most hard labor out of all the rituals I just mentioned is the offering part as we often get confused about deciding the perfect diwali gifts for our at a high price and near ones.

  20. says

    If anyone here is willing to help out a young woman who is struggling..
    I’ve become desperate, and I turned to a donation website that has many people just asking for free money to get a car, or move to a new city, or buy a puppy for their kid, etc… However, what I’m asking of anyone willing, is any donations to help me pay bills, buy food, and afford a bus pass.

    Thanks for reading this comment. I hate requesting handouts, but I’m at my limits here
    Donate here:

  21. Susan says

    I grew up with a very judgmental attitude towards people who asked for money. I chose to doubt whether they really needed it and accepted a belief that they probably found it easier to beg than work, or that I might be only contributing to their need for drugs or booze. Somewhere along the way, I came to realize that what happens to my financial donation to a person on the street is NOT what is important. When I give I try to say with a warm smile ‘bless you brother (or sister)’. I now chose to believe that I can take the opportunity not only to NOT pass judgment on another, but also to plant a seed. One that says ‘you are worthy and I care about you’, so that in their future, they too may come to believe what is in the hearts of many.

  22. Reece Precious says

    Im all for the leftie idea of giving for givings sake. You shouldn’t impose conditions on generosity, judgement and generosity are at the opposite ends of the scale.

  23. Joanna Irwin says

    Funny I start to feel all happy inside when I give away something to someone or give to a person in need then I think I have plenty left for my family and myself how much better it would be to give my last penny, my last piece of food to someone. There is a u tube clip of a person asking for a meal to be shared by random members of the public saying “I’m hungry and have no money could you give me some of your sandwich, or to another some of your lunch they all said go away and offered some excuse. They found a homeless man who they gave a pizza to and asked if they could have some he said “sure yes” and sat with him and ate.

  24. Bill says

    Great stuff!
    I sometimes fantasize about getting rid of all my objects, living out of a rucksack and becoming a beggar. But i don’t have the balls to do it, and i like the luxuries of life like hot running water, clean sheets and clothes, and eating the food i like when i want it. Over 99.99999999999999999999999% of creatures that have ever been alive don’t exist any more. I’ve got to let it all go when i expire so why can’t i do it now!

  25. Edgar says

    WOW, nice article! …. Am called Edgar and live in a small East African country called Uganda. Our country is not economically prosperous like the western nations, but my country-mates seem a lot happier than the European and American people. Reason? People back here, most especially the poor, are always willing to share the little the have with others. They live happy fulfilled lives. I guess we can all learn from that. To share is to love!

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