Abstract: Some of us are natural givers and others of us have to reach for generosity. Anyone, at any age, can engage in practices that strengthen the quality of “generosity of spirit”. Bill’s story illustrates that choosing to be more concerned with others’ needs than our own, makes us more attractive and is more likely to bring fulfillment. The attitude and behavior of generosity may be the single-most important factor in determining the quality of our life experience.
It seems natural to be more concerned with our own needs and desires, rather than those of others. Yet, living life from an intention to give rather than to get is more likely to bring fulfillment. The attitude that we adopt may be the single-most important factor in determining the quality of our life experience. Choosing to be more concerned with others’ needs than our own, makes us more attractive and draws them into our sphere of influence.
This is not to say that obsessively focusing on others to the exclusion of our own needs is always a good thing to do. Ignoring our own needs creates co-dependent patterns that generate resentment. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.
Natural Givers and Those Who Reach for Generosity
Some of us are born with a predisposition towards giving; some develop it in the process of maturing; some never do. Anyone, at any age, can engage in practices that strengthen the quality of “generosity of spirit”. As this practice becomes more integrated into the fabric of our lives, the motivation to continue becomes stronger as it produces increasingly rewarding results. Our friend Bill Galt knows this from a lifetime of practicing this form of “enlightened self-interest. Here’s what he has to say about it:
“I’ve always known, even as a kid, that I was happiest when I was giving. I enjoy giving support, sharing ideas, offering comfort and giving from the heart as well as the wallet. I love being engaged in real conversations. I don’t do superficial very well, and I’ve found that when I get real, people almost always join me at that level.”
“My friends and family all know that they can always turn to me if they need any kind of help. It brings me pleasure to assist them. I’m always looking for ways in which I can serve. When my wife Gail and I lived in Baja California, we had a big hurricane that caused a lot of damage. After the hurricane, Gail and I got to work in the neighborhood and we had a blast! We put a roof on one person’s house and a door on another’s. There was a huge overpopulation problem of beach dogs. We started up a “spay and neuter your pet program.” The local women were supportive of the idea, but their husbands weren’t, so Gail would wait until the men left for work and then go door to door to speak to the women. It seemed a little sneaky, but it worked! We brought in veterinarians from out of town, and by the time we left, we had spayed and neutered several hundred animals!”
“Money has never been a major preoccupation with me. I’ve always trusted that here will be enough and there usually is. There was a time years ago, that money was pretty scarce with us and we didn’t have enough to pay our rent. If we didn’t come up with $500, we were at risk of getting evicted. After several days of frantically running around trying to hustle up the money, I finally scraped it together. But before I could pay it, a friend came over who was in even more dire circumstances than I was, and after hearing his heart-wrenching story, I gave him the entire $500!”
“My wife pitched a fit! She was screaming at me that we might lose our house and there wouldn’t be a roof over our children’s heads. She was so angry, that I thought she might actually divorce me. In less than a week, I had gathered together even more that the $500 that we needed to pay the rent. When I look around me, I see so many people grasping and consuming. All this excessive materialism amplifies peoples’ fears and dissatisfaction. Professional marketers seem to know how to exploit inflame our desires and anxieties.”
“Gail and I have realized a degree of material success that allows us to see how hollow the relentless accumulation of money is. There is a big difference between needs and desires. This distinction and that makes it a lot easier to loosen our attachment to things that are non-essentials. We focus our energies on those things that really matter. We make sure that we only consume that which is aligned with our life vision, which is to serve society. When we stay true to that mission, we enjoy long-term satisfaction. And it’s that sense of having enough and being enough that allows us to continue to share all that we have. It’s the opposite of a vicious cycle. I guess you could call it a cycle of love.”
Linda Bloom L.C.S.W. has served as psychotherapist and seminar leader practicing relationship counseling almost forty years. Check out her OMTimes Bio. If you like what you read, click here to sign up Bloomwork’s monthly inspirational newsletter and receive our free e-book: Going For the Gold: Tools, practice, and wisdom for creating exemplary relationships. Follow Bloomwork on Facebook!