You don’t need to be a billionaire to live an abundantly generous life. Giving isn’t always about money. All you need is a desire to give back to the world and the willingness to take simple steps to live that out. And if you lack motivation, science is here to tell you that living generously will actually add health and happiness to your life. Studies show that generosity leads to reduced stress, greater work satisfaction, a greater sense of purpose, a longer life, a stronger marriage and better mental health. Here are five easy, practical ways to harness your resources, practice generosity and transform your life.
1. Start Small and Simple
Don’t overthink generosity; just start with small acts of kindness and let it snowball from there. That might mean holding the door for someone whose arms are full, expressing appreciation for good service or buying lunch for someone in need. Let the good vibes from these small acts fuel you to continue to give generously.
2. Share Your Abundance
Even if you are strapped for cash, there are other types of abundance you can offer the world. Maybe your evenings are free and you can offer the gift of babysitting to parents in need of a night off. Perhaps you have a spare bedroom and can let someone in between housing crash with you for a few weeks. Maybe you have a big yard and can host a community yard sale. Even if you have only a few spare hours a week, you can spend a couple of those hours volunteering by helping refugees resettle, delivering meals to the elderly or putting together packages at a local food bank.
3. Harness Your Natural Talents
Think about skills you possess that would benefit others and donate those skills to a worthy cause. If you have a knack for web design, offer to spruce up the website for a local nonprofit. If you’re out mowing the lawn, offer to trim the lawn of a neighbor in need. Help clean the dishes of a neighbor or friend too overwhelmed by childcare or other life concerns. What do you do for a living? Can you do it pro bono for someone in need? For example, this man cuts hair for the homeless.
4. Pay Attention
Sometimes, the most valuable form of generosity you can offer is the simple act of paying attention to those around you. Smile at the person who makes eye contact with you. Listen attentively to the person who is talking to you. Ask meaningful questions, show that you care and express your appreciation to those you interact with. By paying attention to others, you will begin to see the bounty of opportunities to give generously.
5. Cross Boundaries and Build Community
As the cycle of virtue leads you to a greater commitment to living generously, focus your efforts on serving your local community on a regular basis. As you show up to support vulnerable members of your community, whether it’s refugees, the elderly, or lower income families, be sure to build personal relationships in the process. By strengthening bonds across social boundaries, you’ll expand your worldview and deepen your capacity for empathy, making your life more meaningful and rich with love.
The great news about this important practice: you have everything you need to live a generous, abundant life. As generosity becomes a habitual part of your daily life, you will see your understanding of the world expand, you will attract more goodness into your life and, yes, you will also reap the bounty of health benefits that come with giving freely. So start small and start today.
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