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Monk Notes 31 - The Longview of Generosity

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,

Steven Lawson

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”

- Ralph Waldo Emerson


How generosity changes your brain - Big Think

We’ve all heard the saying “money doesn’t buy happiness,” although strangely enough it seems that the inverse may also be true, that giving away your money can bring happiness. Strange as it may sound research suggests this is the case, as explained here by Stephen Johnson from Big Think.  LINK

18 Acts of Kindness That Don’t Cost Money - 1st Financial Bank USA

Generosity doesn’t necessarily equate to giving away money, and in many cases the most generous things you can do don’t cost a thing. If you’d like to give back to your family and community but don’t know where to start, here’s 18 suggestions to get you started. LINK

How to Validate Someone’s Feelings (With 50+ Examples) - UpJourney

It's important to be generous with your emotions equally to any other form of generosity in your life. Sometimes the thing someone needs most in their life is for another person to validate your feelings. If you're not sure how to do this article from UpJourney explains this in detail along with practical tips you can integrate in your daily life. LINK

Featured Art: Children of the Sea, Jozef Israëls (1872)