Tuesday, October 25, 2011

5 Ways to Practice Generosity

From Gil's recent talk on generosity, I have taken away these 5 practices of generosity (as part of broader mindfulness practice):

1. Do exactly what you are already doing, but infuse it with a spirit of generosity.

2. Look for opportunities for small acts of generosity that you would not generally do, and study yourself before, during, and after.

3. Look for situations in which you are inspired to give, and do it, and if you can't think of anything look at that.

4. Stretch yourself in being generous, and give in ways that are hard for you, even if just a little; explore what it's like.

5. Practice doing an act of generosity to someone you are in conflict with, and explore what happens inside.

And while practicing generosity, keep the following principles in mind:

When practicing generosity or giving, you don't have to FEEL generous.
Wise generosity is about how to benefit oneself, and how to benefit others.
We should give in a way that does not harm oneself, and does not harm others.
We should give out of obligation but because it feels like a beneficial things to do.
HOW one give is more important than WHAT one gives.

To Gil's points, I would like to add my own twist:

Paying attention to the body and mind's movements as one considers giving or not giving. Is there tightening, or expansion in the body, the heart, the mind? Tightening is clear indication of the need to bring ease into one's approach, either needing to relax into being more generous, or its opposite, withholding misguided giving.

For now, I shall focus on the first and fifth practices. The fifth one because of current circumstances. And the first one because it goes hand in hand with casual, moment to moment mindfulness. 

What is your relationship with generosity? How do you practice? Do you?


  1. The less I like a person, the more polite I am. I also make sure (while volunteering) to go out of my way to be extra nice to people who seem so terribly pissed off. It does seem to help them, & I know it helps me.

  2. Yes, as pointed by Gil, it is not about FEELING generous but rather having the intention, and following through with action or attitude.

  3. I have learned through having children that my emotions and feeling effect them so much, so I know it also effect others. I have gone out of my way to smile and say hello to everyone I met in the last year.

    My oldest daughter recently asked why I go out of my way now to talk to people and say hello. My answer, I do it for me. It makes me feel better about myself and if it makes their day a little better that is awesome.

    Great post.

  4. Thank you Debra. I am with you. Generosity, compassion, forgiveness, kindness are all in the interest of our own selves, and others! A win-win.