Monk Notes 19 - The Ultimate Gift Is a Life of Meaning
Generosity is directly connected to meaning
Culturally, we have a strange connection to generosity. We hold up generosity as a universally positive value, and yet tend to celebrate individuals in business, politics, and general culture who exemplify its opposite. We may even come to believe over time that personal success runs in the opposite direction of generosity; that selfishness is the path that will bring us to what we desire.
But this view of generosity is shortsighted. While it may be true that selfishness can at times lead to positive external outcomes, the internal result is often devastating. Through an external lens we miss the truth about generosity, which is always bidirectional.
We are relational beings, and we find meaning where we leave our mark; everything apart from our effect on others will ultimately be left behind. Generosity is the river that flows toward meaning. The most generous people are often the most joyful people for this very simple reason: generosity creates meaning in our lives.
That said, generosity costs us something — and it is because it costs us something that generosity is actually meaningful.
However, we can grow in generosity much easier when we recognize that all of life costs something. No matter what we do, every choice we make will come at some cost to our life. The decision for us is how much meaning we hope to arrive at through this cost, and how we choose to allocate this cost.
When we direct our lives towards meaning, we direct our lives towards generosity. Not generosity in the form of perpetual self-sacrifice, or external offerings, but rather the quiet disposition of an orientation toward the good.
The ultimate gift is a life of meaning. And it is only through our own generosity that we can receive it.
All the best,
“Without courage you cannot practice any of the other virtues.”
- Maya Angelou
How to Stop Motivating Yourself With Guilt - Inc.com
Regardless of what motivates a person in life, we're all effected in different ways depending on that motivation is. Unfortunately, for many of us this is guilt, but it would be foolish to think it's sustainable to live a postive lifestyle with a negative power source. If we want to live a fuller life, we need to understand how to eliminate this guilt, as explained by John Brandon. LINK
You’re Not Listening. Here’s Why. - The New York Times
Have you ever told someone close to you about a story that recently happened, only for that person's response to feel like they weren't actually listening to what you're saying at all? What about giving a gift that you're so sure a loved one would be elated to receive, only to see them trying their hardest to even pretend that they like it? While it may be instinctual to think we're bad people when this happens, the phenomenon known as the closeness-communication bias is actually quite common, and this New York Times piece by María Medem will tell you the best practices to avoid falling into this bias again. LINK
Love and What It Means to Live in the Present - The Marginalian
As I'm sure you've heard at the beginning of a hundred different stories before, love can be a complicated thing. As such, it's only natural that many of us have different interpretations of the nature of love along with its relationship to our lives. If you'd like to hear the perspective that philosopher Martin Buber held regarding love and its relationship to living in the present, this examination of his work by Maria Popova will likely interest you. LINK
Featured Art: Kajikazawa in Kai Province, Katsushika Hokusai (c. 1830-1832)
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