Today is one of my favorite days: “Giving Tuesday.” Finally, a day that celebrates generosity instead of days which we call “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” There is nothing wrong with these, except that they tend to point us toward self-fulfilling tasks like getting a “good deal” or “being first in line.” In addition, the ways we have seen these “deals” manipulated for self-interest and exploitation further call for something to offset our own self-interest by focusing on someone or some cause in need.
As a child I watched my Mom extend generosity in all directions. She says I was “born kind” but I say it may be a little nature AND a little nurture. An example of her giving spirit is to get in line at the grocery or toy store behind a mom with a big cart, and about the time it comes for payment, she hands the clerk her credit card and pays as a gift! So fun!
Another example of Mom’s generosity was in grade school when I played flute in the school band. One of the other students did not have the requisite “white shirt and tie” for the uniform we would wear at a concert we were playing. She managed to muster up just the right sized shirt and tie for this young man who clearly had no one looking after him.
In big ways and in small, I learned about the magic of giving long before there was neuroscience to back up its positive effects on our brain chemistry. I have also written about generosity being one of the major levers I have pulled to heal, and allay the aches and pains of grief. Taking the focus off of myself has been the fastest route to doing something productive with the pain I feel. The more I am generous with others, the more I feel connected and “part of” rather than “outside of” the rest of the world.
One of the lessons I learned about giving was from Dr. Wayne Dyer. He took the act of generosity to a new level when he talked about the importance of not just “giving” but giving something that you love, something that you don’t want to part with. He taught that the more we share something precious to us, the greater the positive impact on us. In other words, giving away something that we don’t like or use, is one important form of generosity. But we really start to see the transcendent nature of giving when we part with things we value.
For today, let’s all up our generosity game. If we are in a conversation that might normally lead to us interrupting someone, let’s let the other party finish their full thought, before responding. If we are in the grocery store and we see those pre-packed, pre-priced bags for the “hungry” and we don’t normally purchase them, let’s purchase one! Let’s stop for the person asking for handouts at the intersection, even though we don’t normally give that way. Let’s make generous assumptions about the motivations of others, and not jump to conclusions when we are about to feel offended by someone’s position on an issue.
There are endless ways to open to the world and share. It won’t make someone rich, and it won’t make us poor. But from a spiritual economics level, we may just be making the biggest deposit into our own accounts by giving what we love, or at least what we can, to others. Even if its just for today.
And if you want to take Steven Pressfield’s advice and “Turn Pro”, do it every day!