It’s human nature to put yourself first.
This isn’t anything new. The book of Genesis tells the story of Cain and Abel, who both made offerings to God. When Cain saw that God accepted Abel’s offering but not his own, he killed Abel out of jealousy. He was looking out for himself.
As children, we learn that there is a better way to live. We hear it in phrases like “‘Tis better to give than to receive,” or “Sharing is caring.” We learn that there’s more to life than looking after yourself.
A few years ago I interviewed author Jeff Goins on the topic of generosity, and he made a simple but profound statement: “Being generous is its own reward. When you give, you get.”
On my journey as a writer, I have been amazed at the generosity of people who have nothing to gain from being generous. It would seem like successful people don’t have time to help others who have a smaller audience than they do, but it’s not true. The most successful people know the value of being generous.
Why? Because they understand the difference between a scarcity mentality and an abundance mentality.
A person with a scarcity mentality believes there is not enough to go around. They are jealous of other people’s success, money, accomplishments, or possessions. They believe that life is like a giant see-saw where other people’s success results in their failure.
A person with an abundance mentality knows that there is plenty to go around. They know that when others succeed, it can help them also. They also know that when they are generous to others, it comes back to them in unexpected ways.
Being generous doesn’t mean you give everything away for free. Generosity is not about economics. It’s about orientation. A generous person is oriented toward serving, helping, and giving to others.
Here are ten easy ways to be generous:
- Buy a good book for a friend.
- Donate your time or talent to a ministry or organization that needs your help.
- Send a handwritten thank-you note to someone who has helped you.
- Thank someone on social media so others can see it.
- Leave a thoughtful comment on someone’s blog.
- Help promote other people’s art on your blog, newsletter, or on social media.
- Make an introduction between two friends who could help each other.
- Open doors for people. (Hardly anyone seems to do this anymore.)
- When a retail employee is helpful, ask to speak to their manager and tell them how helpful the employee was to you. (You can also do this when you’re talking to a customer service rep on the phone. It blows them away because it’s so unusual.)
- Let someone know you are praying for them. (You can do this with a text message, phone call, email, or social media.)
There are many other ways. You get the idea.
A generous person is like a powerful river where the water is constantly flowing. It gives and receives, nourishing the land all around it.
A selfish person is like a stagnant pond that keeps all the water for itself. It always receives but is never able to give.
When in doubt, always choose to be generous. You will be happier, more successful, have better relationships, and be a much bigger blessing to the world.
Questions for you to consider:
1. Why is it so hard to be generous?
2. How have you seen generosity be its own reward in your life?
3. What is the difference between an abundance mentality and a scarcity mentality? Which one do you tend to have?
4. How has someone been generous to you? How did you thank them?
5. Look through the list of ten ways to be generous. Which one could you put into practice today?