Real generosity is not a grandiose gesture that makes a sudden, mighty statement.
It’s a humble, quiet spirit that perseveres patiently. As a 20th century monk, Thomas Merton explains: “...it bears with everything gladly without complaint because it no longer stops to reflect that there is anything to bear.”
Leading with a generous spirit means more than giving of yourself. It’s about leading with freedom. It’s taking that little scorecard we all keep in our pockets—the calculating one that keeps tabs on who owes what and when—and ripping it into oblivion—letting it gently fly away on a breeze, never giving it a second thought. It goes beyond forgiving someone’s wrongs; it’s believing in someone’s future, and with a full heart, helping them grasp it.
Practicing generosity can feel uncomfortable, and maybe even kind of foolish. In a world where we face dashed dreams and disappointing people, this is a natural response. Yet paradoxically when we persevere with a generous spirit, we receive far more than we give. We see others in ourselves and ourselves in others. And, we start seeing the light in the darkness—and the good in what we otherwise would have otherwise missed. We realize that when we give to someone else, we can’t help but simultaneously give to ourselves.
Generosity is always linked on some level to vulnerability, which is what makes it so hard. We’re afraid of being hurt, of feeling taken advantage of, and giving—only to receive nothing. But just as still water ripples with every movement, so do our actions affect everything around us, including ourselves
WAYS TO INCORPORATE THIS PRACTICE
Connection • Forgiveness • Service
Everyday, do one act that you know is valuable to someone else, just to build the habit of serving. Bonus points if they won’t know it was you, or if it’s something you don’t naturally like doing.
Think of someone you need to forgive. Everyday take five minutes to think about what their life is like and the difficulties they face. At the end of the month, journal about your experience.
Give up gossiping for one month. Take it one step forward and don’t say anything negative about someone or something unless it’s truly necessary. Try to give people the benefit of the doubt; voice this benefit of the doubt, and change the subject if a conversation is intent on detracting from the person.
“Leading with a generous spirit means more than giving of yourself. It’s about leading with freedom.”
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