Amazingly awesome generosity has the following attributes:
- It’s given for the right reason.
- It doesn’t leave us (the giver) in need.
- We are giving of our own free will.
- The solution is long term.
- The solution is created by a collaboration of the receiver and the giver.
- The solution doesn’t harm 3rd parties.
It’s given for the right reason
The right reason for generosity is love and concern. If we have ulterior motives for being generous such as to alleviate guilt or to look good to others, we have the wrong reason for giving.
It doesn’t leave us in need
If we are put in harm because of our generosity, we are giving what we really shouldn’t be giving. For example, we shouldn’t expect that our car will be repossessed as a result of our generosity. We need to make sure our needs are met first. Otherwise, we are only trading one person in need for another.
We are giving of our own free will
Just like with giving for the right reason, we are giving from our own choice. We are not being coerced by others to give.
The solution is long term
In our generosity, we are looking for the long term results, not just the immediate need. We often hear:
Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ve fed him for a lifetime.
Keep in mind, though, that we might need to do both – give the man a fish for now and teach him to fish for later.
The solution is created by a collaboration of the receiver and the giver
Great generosity allows the receiver to play a huge role in crafting the solution. We partner with the receiver providing resources while the receiver creates his or her own path. With this model, the receiver takes ownership in creating a self sustaining solution. Instead of being lords over the receiver, we are an equal collaborator.
The solution doesn’t harm 3rd parties
Great generosity isn’t creating unintended consequences that harm other folks.
Feeling Generous vs Being Generous
Lastly, I think we should talk about the push and pull between our motivations and our actions. As mentioned above, our generosity cannot be intentionally fake. However, this doesn’t mean that we always feel generous when we are giving.
Sometimes we don’t want to, but we have made a choice and commitment to be generous in our actions. This is not being fake. The subtle difference here is that we are giving because of a decision rather than because of ulterior motives – which is fake giving. This is still a type of love and concern for the receiver.
When we do this, over time our feelings often come around and begin to agree with our actions. Sometimes we need to start with generous actions before we feel generous. Otherwise, we will be waiting for a feeling that never seems to arrive. Instead we start with our actions, and our feelings will eventually follow.
What about you? Tells us about a time when you were generous and you felt great – where both you and receiver gained from the experience.