Generosity is the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. Mitch Albom notes that “the way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” We have to remember that no matter how much we may feel like one, no man is an island, and we are all connected (after all, we are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness, as Thich Nhat Hanh said).
Learning to Give maintains that “generosity is an impulse that invokes deep and vital healing in the human family. Sharing our gifts with each other—whether they be gifts of love, time, attention, skills, or money—releases a powerful force for positive change in both the giver and the receiver.” This is reminiscent of the Buddha’s advice: Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
If you are not fortunate enough to have people in your life with whom you wish to be generous, please consider patronizing an organization bearing the name of this virtue: Generosity Water is working to provide the world’s most important natural resource to the estimated one billion people in the world who don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. They hope this will put an end to a child dying every fifteen seconds from a water related disease, and empty over half the world’s hospital beds, which are filled with patients affected by water related illnesses.
Feel like tackling clean water for the world is too much? How many homes can you really build for the working poor? How many blankets can you provide to people sleeping on the streets in the winter? The answer here is twofold: one, you would not believe me if I told you how great your power is with concentrated effort. And two? Mother Teresa reminds us, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.”
Just do what you can. You will be amazed by how much that truly is.
Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.