Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.”

Generosity is a wonderful trait to have and is one that I really admire when I see it in action.

I am fortunate to have numerous people in my life who are genuinely generous in many different ways and they are constantly influencing me to look for ways to be more generous.

What are some ways in which we can become more generous?

Change your perspective on money.  If you have the perspective that you need to watch every penny, chances are you’ll be right.  If you have the perspective that you enough money to give some away, chances are you’ll be right. 

In a world that has more than half of humanity living on less than $2.50 per day, if you live in Australia, you have enough to give some away. 

The biblical principle of tithing is one that is recognised by many people outside of the church.  Whilst Christians are reminded in Malachi 3:10 that if you give 10% of your earnings the flood-gates of heaven will pour out blessings upon you, there are many people in the personal development field who would encourage the same idea. 

If you want to be more generous, understand that you have more than enough and start giving some away now, not when you think that you are rich enough to afford it.  A person who is not generous when they have no money will not suddenly become generous when they have money.  Most people just spend more on themselves when their earnings increase and their more expensive lifestyle will mean that there still isn’t room in the budget to give money away.

Sponsoring a child in a developing country, giving regularly to your church or a reputable charity, being less anxious about how much others contribute to a restaurant bill and freely “shouting” others are all ways that you become more generous with your money.

Be generous with praise.  Money isn’t the only way to be generous.  We can also be generous in the way that we speak to (and about) the people in our lives.

Some people seem hesitant to give a compliment to others and that to me is the opposite of the spirit of generosity.  If someone does something well or nice or thoughtful or with enthusiasm, give them some credit.  Help them to feel good about themselves.  Perhaps they tried their best, but the result fell short of your expectations.  I still think that’s worth a compliment.

When you give a compliment, don’t feel compelled to balance it out with some constructive criticism as well.  If you say to someone, “That was great, but…” human nature will inevitably lead to the other person only hearing what comes after the “but.”  If you want to be generous with your words to others, do so.  If you need to deliver negative feedback, do that at another time so that the receiver doesn’t mix up the messages.

Allow others to give.  If it’s better to give than receive, then a significant part of being generous is allowing others to give to us. 

As a big fan of Seinfeld, I can relate to Jerry when his dad refuses to let him pay for anything.  ‘I have my own money dad!” was the frustrated response from Jerry after yet again, his father refused to let him pay for dinner.

There are many well-meaning people who refuse to let anyone else pay for coffee, contribute to a restaurant bill or even accept a compliment.  I haven’t been able to completely pin down why this is the case, although I suspect that it differs from person to person. 

Some like to show off that they have more money.  Some people sadly believe that if they pay, then people will want to spend more time with them.  Some may have been brought up with this principle and it’s become a habit.

Whatever the reason, it is OK to allow other people to pay for things occasionally.  Let others feel the joy of giving once in a while.

Be anonymous.  A great quote from Frank Clark describes this aspect of generosity, “Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find it out.”

This is a significant challenge as we often want others to notice our good deeds and we feel extra proud when someone says something about them.  The problem with this is that we can then fall into the habit of only being generous with people who express appreciation or make us feel good about ourselves.

If you truly want to become more generous, then your values shouldn’t be dictated by the response of others.  I don’t want to be a good father so that my kids one day tell me what a good father I was.  I want to be a good father because it’s the right thing to do. 

I believe that being more generous is a terrific value to aspire to.  I certainly have the opportunity and the challenge to be more generous in many aspects of my life.

How can you be more generous this week?

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