10 Minutes to... Spread Generosity in Your Local Community and Beyond

  • 4 min read

Illustration by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

It pays to be generous. 

A recent study found that highly generous people are a whopping 23% more satisfied with their life overall — they’re more likely to find happiness in their relationships, their jobs, and their possessions, too. 

Generous individuals are also more inclined to be optimistic, think that their life has meaning, and be proud of who they are. So how generous are you?

We spend our time searching for, and chasing, satisfaction in our lives...maybe the answer lies in generosity?

Even the UN agrees. Generosity is a key metric in the UN Happiness Index — measuring general wellbeing and happiness based on a variety of factors indicating quality of life. 

According to their World Happiness Report, the act of being generous makes us think and feel more positively, which in turn has a major impact on our life evaluations.

We’re used to hearing that money can’t buy happiness and, at a certain point, that’s correct. The UN has found that our social environment (including how we give and receive generosity) goesmuch further in bringing us happiness than money or material goods ever could. 

How to be more generous with money

Donating cash is generosity 101. Don’t worry, you can start small — even a $1 donation will help create impact. Find an amount that you're comfortable with and a cause that’s close to your heart. 

Are you letting fear of judgement hold you back? Don’t! Why not donate anonymously, with a credit card online? It’s not aboutwhat you give, it’s about doing what you can.

You can train yourself to think generously, too. Each month when you get paid, make your first expense an act of giving. Donating $20 might seem like a lot in the moment, but taking $20 from your paycheck and immediately giving it to charity carries very little pain of paying.

And to really expand on the positive outcomes from monetary donations, frame your behavior around contextual cues and mindful observations, too. Why does that charity mean so much to you? Maybe they make possible something that benefits a friend or loved one, like cancer research. Or maybe you'd have benefited from their help and support earlier in your life. Be grateful for your opportunity to help others and strengthen your community. 

The most meaningful donations have a little emotion attached to them, even if they're a simple bank transfer. So find a recipient that you can be proud of supporting.

How to be more generous with your time

Generosity doesn’t have to be about money. In fact, it may be better if your generosity doesn’t always involve paying others. You can be generous with your time as well. You’ll be happier if you do. 

One way is to volunteer each week at a local organization or non-profit. But small, low-key tasks are also a generous use of your time. Maybe you have an elderly neighbor who needs help with some chores around the house, or a family member who’s in need of a babysitter while they work. 

Feeling pressed for time yourself? Micro acts of generosity take less than a minuteto complete. 

Write a glowing review for a podcast you’ve been obsessed with or for your favorite indie store. Hold the door open for other shoppers, buy beers for your coworkers, send someone a handwritten card for their birthday. Next time you’re on a walk, pick up any trash you come across. When you’re talking to people, make an effort to put your phone away and really be present and listen to everything they say. 

You’d be amazed how far these small shows of appreciation and respect will go.

How to be more generous with your words

Words have a lot of power. And you don’t have to be a poet or author for your words to have an impact on other people’s lives. 

Think back to the last time you received a random compliment from a stranger — didn’t it just fill you with warmth and positivity? The complement probably made the giver feel better than it made you feel. So, hold on to that feeling and make ityour mission to spread generosity with your words.

Tell your colleague they did an awesome job on that pitch. Thank your barista for theextra delicious coffee they made today. A genuine compliment can make someone’s day. It will make yours better too. 

How to be more generous with yourself

You can show generosity to your friends, family, and community, but it’ll be hard to reap the benefits unless you also show it to yourself. You can’t fill from an empty cup, and the same premise applies here. 

Being kind and generous to yourself may not always come naturally — especially when we’re taught to push ourselves 110%, 24 hours a day.

But it’s something you can build into your daily routine, with a little reflection and effort. Try to banish negative self-talk and focus on the thingsyou have done for yourself today.

Do you need to eat spaghetti and binge watch Netflix all evening rather than working out? Do it. Do you need to finish work early for a yoga class? Go right ahead.  Splurge on things that bring you joy, even if it’s something small like a hipster brand of chocolate or a new book to add to the shelf. Just remember to practice gratitude when you do to maximize your happiness. 

Once you begin to show generosity to yourself, as you have committed to do for others, you’ll start to realize just how important it is — and how good it makes you feel.

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