Science has proven that when we choose to be generous, we feel happier. For example, in one study, participants were given $20 and given the choice to spend it on themselves or spend it on someone else. Guess who was the happiest?
Benefits of generosity
But the benefits don’t stop there. When we choose to be generous, we become healthier. We feel less stress. We have improved our relationships with others. And we live longer.
Lack of generosity – or somewhat “stingy” behavior – has been shown to have the opposite effect on all counts.
There are many ways to be generous
We can choose to be generous in different ways.
Some of us may engage in philanthropy, or through donations to causes we deem worthy.
Others may choose to seek out volunteer work, serving in a hospital, nursing home, animal shelter, campaign, election, or school.
Those who cannot save money can simply choose to live an altruistic life.
Choose to be generous for free include a bunch of ideas that cost nothing.
What does it mean to be generous?
According to Webster’s, altruism is “the belief or practice of selfless and unselfish concern for the welfare of others.” I think I would also insert the word “sincere” somewhere.
And something tells me that living a truly altruistic life usually leads to philanthropy, volunteering, or all of the above!
So there really is something for everyone.
And there’s no reason why we can’t all choose to be generous in one way or another.
And making the choice to do so is very critical.
Choosing to be generous is the key
Some organizations hold “volunteer” events that employees are expected to attend.
Some schools pressure parents to do mandatory “volunteer” hours.
Other commitments can lead to pressure to 1) do something you don’t want to do, 2) do something at a time that’s not convenient for you, or 3) buy something you don’t need or want!
Unfortunately, these situations do not generate the benefit of other activities where we choose to be generous.
Our brain and our body know the difference!
So when we do something that we’ve been “voluntarily told,” we don’t get the health or other benefits that come with a true act of generosity.
Just say no when an activity isn’t for you, right for you, or doesn’t make your heart sing.
If you don’t believe in the cause they represent, don’t give money to people walking in front of the Wal-Mart.
Don’t buy Girl Scout Cookies if you’re trying to watch your calories! (Just give them a donation instead, if you’re so moved).
And don’t buy the wallpaper, greeting cards, pizza, coupon books or anything – just say no!
But do SOMETHING.
Being generous is good for us: do something generous today
Give with your heart, whether it’s time, money, prayers, positive energy, a home-cooked meal for a friend struggling with a sick spouse, a babysitting gift for a young couple in need of a night out, raking the leaves for an elderly neighbor, or an hour of tutoring for a struggling student.
Or take your lightly used clothes that don’t fit the body you live in every day to a local donation box or charity.
And remember that the way you choose to be generous has nothing to do with money.
We can give each other attention, patience, support, and unconditional love every day, at no cost and without it taking up extra time.
Something as simple as a kind smile can be “qualified” as an act of generosity – a selfless act that benefits others.
When we choose to be generous, we feel better, and so do those around us.
This week, let’s find a new and creative way to demonstrate the spirit of generosity that exists between us and enjoy the benefits for each other and for ourselves as well.
Thanks as always for reading.
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