In this article I want to focus upon an aspect of life that is often overlooked and frequently misunderstood — the concept of generosity. The idea of giving generously is usually accompanied by a set of conditioned responses.
From an early age we have been subjected to others’ perceptions of generosity. We may have learnt that being generous makes us a good and worthy person or that giving is a sign of vulnerability or weakness.
The issue is that we have never had an opportunity to view the topic with complete objectivity. Therefore, the chances are, we don’t really know what true generosity is and what an amazing and affirming gift it can be.
Being generous can be life changing — both for the giver and the recipient. But when misjudged, it can lead to a sense of obligation and ultimately resentment.
It is essential that we understand the key difference between contribution and obligation. And for that, we need to start with our purpose for ‘being’.
Whether or not you have a sense of life purpose, you don’t need to know what that is in order to be generous– (See my earlier blog post “Is knowing your life purpose essential for success?”). We all have skills, talents and gifts to share with the world.
If we take our lead from nature, we see that all creation has a purpose to serve something greater than itself and whilst we inhabit physical bodies, we are part of nature. But humans are different from the rest of nature in that we have consciousness (awareness of ourselves) as well. So, like a frightened animal, we may find ourselves fleeing from a perceived danger but we also have the ability to observe ourselves mid-flight and to reflect on our actions afterwards.
We have this dual function: Part of — and therefore subject to — the laws of nature whilst also being asked to serve the Divine through our consciousness. In that concept of service both above and below lies the true essence of generosity. We are here to contribute to the evolution of the planet.
We tend to make it more complicated than that because we over-think service.
The sun’s purpose is to provide light, warmth and energy to the planet. It is essential for the existence of life here on earth and it willingly provides. It doesn’t question or doubt. It doesn’t fulfil its role because it thinks it should. It shares its gift simply because that is what it is here to do.
How easy do we find it to give freely in the way the sun does? We allow our conditioned thinking gets in the way — Am I being paid enough? Will I be taken advantage of? Is this what I am really meant to be doing? Is the grass greener over there?… and so on!
The internal dialogue is relentless and exhausting and prevents us from being fully present to the joyful experience of generosity. When we aren’t able to suspend our thinking and fully immerse ourselves in service, any sense of joyful contribution reverts to obligation and resentment.
So let’s revisit contribution through the eyes of generosity.
Can I take the task that I am being asked to do (whether by my colleague, my partner, my parent, my child, my boss, a friend or by life itself) and let go of my thoughts? Can I release the inner conflict manifested through the oughts and the shoulds? Can I give my full and undivided attention to this opportunity to serve? Can I stop dwelling on the appropriateness of the request? Can I share my contributions and make a difference in the world without requiring rewards or recognition? Can I respond to what is asked of me with the same willingness with which the sun warms the earth?
It’s easy to dismiss these ideas as superficial. In doing so, we underestimate the immense power that comes from embracing the gift of service. When we are able say yes to requests with a generous and open heart, we transform the quality of our life. We bring ourselves back into alignment both with nature and spirit, and fulfil our real purpose — walking this planet to give of ourselves freely in service of the divine.
“Only a day spent in the service of something greater than ourselves is a day well spent” ~ Guy Finley