Being generous – going beyond ourselves and stepping out of our comfort zone to serve others. It’s one of the most effective and proven ways to boost our wellbeing. It’s one of the best forms of self care that we have. In our current environment here and worldwide we need more of these two things – generosity towards others and generosity towards ourselves, with our emotions and how we are feeling. Being kind to ourselves so we can be kind to others.
We’ve all experienced that thrill, that joy, of doing something amazing for somebody else. Maybe it’s sending a friend, a partner, a loved one, a family member, some flowers. Maybe it’s buying a stranger a cup of coffee. Maybe it’s giving to somebody in need. But how good do we feel on a really selfish level after we’ve done something beautiful, or something kind and generous for somebody else? Maybe it’s just leaving them a note, or washing somebody else’s cup in the kitchen in the breakout room. What about when we are generous in spirit? What about when we look at what someone has said to us, that we are perceiving as being negative, and instead of thinking that they are being rude, passive-aggressive or giving a negative meaning to their words, what about if we look at the best in the person saying something and the words that they are using. Imagine how we could stop arguments before they have begun when we are generous in our interpretations of what people are saying to us.
Whatever it is, how good do we feel when we give to somebody else? We don’t do it for that reason. We’re often doing it just to bless them, or be generous, or be kind to them, but we get so much back in return. So today I want you to think of something, maybe it’s a big thing like sending somebody some flowers. Maybe it’s cleaning the common space in your shared flat. Maybe it’s putting away somebody else’s dishes, taking a colleague out, or a loved one out for something special, doing some surprise for somebody. Whatever it is, let’s do something big, or small, for somebody else. See how we feel and how rewarded, and uplifted, we feel after we have done something for somebody else.
I did this challenge of paying it forward or being generous for a day in the ‘Shelley Says So’ challenge a few years ago and so I thought now was a good timely reminder. But as I was looking into research around the ‘act of giving’ and being selfless, I discovered some amazing studies. One study found that volunteering at least once a week gives you the same boost to well-being as a salary increase from $20,000 to $75,000. A Harvard Business School study showed that “donating to charity has a similar relationship to subjective wellbeing as a doubling of household income.” The same study found that students who were told to spend a small amount of money on someone else were happier than students who were told to spend it on themselves.
Isn’t that amazing that right now when we think we will feel better by getting a pay rise, or we might feel better based on some external factor, that we actually have the POWER within ourselves to create greater wellbeing for ourselves by giving to others. I just love this!
Every morning I ask for opportunities of how I can be generous today. It’s such a habit that sometimes I forget that I ask this every morning, but when I’m meditating in the evening the scenes will flash before my eyes and I’ll remember things that I’ve done during the day, that I haven’t known why I’ve done at the time. On reflection I’ll realise it’s because I asked for opportunities for being generous that day. I don’t always get it right and I’m sure I miss many opportunities but I do try to be intentional in my generosity. Today let’s take this challenge I did for ‘Shelley Says So’ and join me in the intention of being generous today and see how your wellbeing changes.