Word of the Month: Generosity

In addition to being generous with material things, we can be generous with things such as time, attention, information and goodwill. All of these types of generosity involve opening our heart. The Buddhist meditation teacher, Jack Kornfield, wrote, “Whether it is generosity with our time, our possessions, our money, or our love, the principles are the same. True generosity grows in us as our heart opens, grows along with the integrity and health of our inner life.”

Also, true generosity occurs when we give without expectations. If we’re giving something in the hope of obtaining a particular outcome as a result, then that’s more of an attempt at manipulation than it is a genuine act of generosity. And genuine generosity typically takes into account the recipient’s preferences, needs and/or desires; we don’t just give what we ourselves would like to receive or what we think the recipient should want.

Lastly, true generosity is joyful. At the end of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge embodies joyful generosity. He happily sends a turkey to Bob Cratchit, makes a sizeable pledge to help the poor and shares his time and attention by going to his nephew’s house for dinner. Each holiday season, when the film adaptations of A Christmas Carol are shown, he serves as a wonderful reminder of the joy of giving. 

See more features from the December 2014 issue