“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 worthy 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