Psychology: What it Means to Be Generous?

Psychology: What Does it Means to Be Generous?


A generous person is not required to give all their possessions away. A generous person is also not required to allow others to push them around. Being generous involves firstly, the readiness to give or being willing to give more than is required.

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” —Mother Teresa

Being generous takes kindness to the next level. You might be kind at heart, and often think about helping others, but unless you actually take them time to actually get the ball rolling in offering your time, energy or other resources for the benefit of another individual, you have not truly mastered the art of being generous. Generosity moves us to give of ourselves willingly, and expect nothing in return.

I know you should be wondering how giving away your assets can help you live a better life. The truth is that many often regard generosity of one of the keys to being truly happy in this miserable world. In fact, many medical practitioners will attest to the fact that being generous is also very good for your health.

In fact, here are some of the proven benefits of giving generously:

  • Reduced stress
  • Lessening the likelihood of suffering from depression
  • Increased sense of purpose
  • Greater happiness
  • Stronger families and marriages
  • Less clutter
  • Reduced risk of dementia
  • Greater appreciation for all that you have
  • More likely to benefit from the generosity of others

A generous person often seeks out opportunities to do good for others. Just think about volunteers who make their way to help out at Soup Kitchens every weekend. Those of us brave enough to sign up for the Peace Corps are also considered quite generous. But simply helping an elderly lady with her grocery bags, or stopping to allow a child to cross the road, can be considered generous. This kind of concern for others proves beneficial because it forces us to focus on the needs of others instead of on our own problems. Anything that minimizes the effect of our problems, whether in our relationships or even financially, will have a direct effect on our health. Being generous protects us from all the cynicism and narcissism that makes it so hard to navigate our way through this world.

I would, however, encourage you to be cautious as you endeavor to be more generous. Be very careful of the way in which you demonstrate your generosity. Please be especially careful when being generous to members of the opposite sex. If you are already taken, and you don’t want to send the wrong impression, avoid gifts or favors that are personal in nature. A personal gift is anything related to one’s body. Perfume, for example, would be considered a personal gift.

Please also bear in mind that your own safety may come into play when being generous. Many people have gotten robbed when asked by a seemingly homeless person to give some money. Reaching into your wallet or bag, and revealing where your cash is kept, and how much cash you have, is a bad idea, no matter how needy the person may appear to be. A safer option would be to let the person know that you will return with a gift.

I would strongly suggest that you go to a secure location, one that is away from prying eyes, and package everything that you would like to donate to this individual in advance. My final word of caution is that you need to feel out the person before being too generous. Some people like spontaneity and others prefer if you first ask them if they need your help. Even the best of intention can put you in awkward situations if they are not executed correctly.

We have discussed at length, how improving various aspects of your own personality can help you to heal yourself, and avoid a lot of the emotional baggage that comes along with the negativity in this world, the rest depends of your one heart.

How to make generosity more impactful

To make giving even more rewarding, focus on giving in ways that make a positive impact in someone else’s life (not just your life). The more we believe that what we give will be valuable or useful to others, the better it feels. And the more we know about how the receiver will use the gift, the more we enjoy giving. We really do want to know not only that we are making a difference, but how we are making a difference. So give thoughtfully and intentionally. It just feels better—both to us and to the gift recipient.

References

Aknin, Lara B, Elizabeth W Dunn, and Michael I Norton. 2012. “Happiness runs in a circular motion: Evidence for a positive feedback loop between prosocial spending and happiness.”  Journal of Happiness Studies 13 (2):347-355.

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