If someone were to ask you, “are you a generous person?” what would you say?
Now, most people would give a resounding yes. After all, many of us try to be altruistic. However, what if you were pushed to provide examples of your acts of generosity? Would you be able to produce enough to back up your claims of kindness? It was only when I forced myself to count my acts of generosity that I realized I wasn’t nearly as giving as I thought.
This is what set me on my path to becoming someone who contributed more to the people around me. Now, I am by no means a selfish person (or so I would like to think). However, it did take me a while to make generosity a habit. So with the help of some research, here are the steps I took:
1. Start with Small Steps
Now, making the decision to become a more giving person was the easy part. However, once I had done that, I didn’t know where to start. Most charitable acts often seem to be done on a grand scale. They either involve the donation of a large sum of money, lots of commitment, or a big chunk of your time. So, they naturally seem to take a lot of effort.
This is how I knew I needed to start small. So, I made a list of small acts of kindness that I could carry out. I made sure that they were within my comfort zone and that they wouldn’t be too out of character for me. Then, I put them into action.
What I was shocked by was how great I felt whenever I helped someone out – it didn’t matter how small it was. And, when I looked up this phenomenon, it checked out. Apparently, acts of generosity are linked to happiness and contentment. So, not only did I feel good, but I was inspired to do even more.
2. Put Others First
As times have progressed, we have been increasingly pressured to put ourselves first. Now, there is some advantage to this. After all, if you were to constantly cater to others, you would end up being rather burnt out. Not to mention, you would miss out on many opportunities to better yourself.
Nevertheless, it is important to put other people first on some occasions at least. When you do this, you are forced to take a closer look at someone else’s life and understand their perspective of the world. You will have a better idea of what they need and how you can help them.
And, although you may not realize it, this act of putting someone else first may have a much larger effect than you might imagine. By helping out just one person, you will also be aiding the people connected to that individual.
In fact, even Charles Darwin had something to say about this impact:
A tribe including many members who, from possessing a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to aid one another and sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over other tribes; and this would be natural selection.
In essence, even the man who put forth the concept of the Survival of the Fittest had to agree that it is important for us to put others’ needs before our own, sometimes. It is the only way that we can expect our families, communities, and society to survive.
3. Celebrate Other People
How often do you really celebrate someone else’s accomplishments? Sure, you may say a few nice words and throw in a round of applause. Beyond this, though, most people don’t really do much in the way of rejoicing in another person’s achievements.
Well, this is something you should change immediately. Since this particular activity can be a bit tricky to pull off with someone you don’t know all that well, start with someone close to you. It can be a family member or friend.
Now, pick an accomplishment. It can be as significant as graduating from school. Or, it could be as simple as losing those last couple of pounds. Whatever it is, make sure you put your whole heart into it.
For a bigger celebration, such as your sister graduating from high school, you can throw a party and include a meaningful memento. Make sure that the occasion is tailored to the guest of honour. Don’t think about what you would like to get out of the event, but rather, focus on what they would appreciate the most.
For instance, let’s imagine that your graduating sister loves animals. Then host a party at an animal sanctuary and encourage the guests to donate money in her name. This kind of action won’t just make you feel good, it will make the honoree feel special too.
For more minor celebrations, focus on doing something that has a positive and significant impact. For instance, let’s imagine that your friend has succeeded in her goal of losing weight. Go ahead and celebrate their accomplishment by buying them a dress or pair of jeans they have had an eye on. You won’t believe how thrilled they will be by this act of generosity.
4. Pay It Forward
Imagine a random act of kindness towards a total stranger. Such an act has a twofold benefit. First, you are doing something without expecting any kind of reward. Secondly, you are inspiring others to perform acts of generosity as well.
You can accomplish both these things by paying it forward. So, how can you manage this? Well, there are both small and big ways to do so. Some small acts include:
- Help out a homeless person in some small way
- Paying for drink or food for the person behind you inline
- Pay someone else’s parking meter
Some of your bigger acts could be:
- Donating blood
- Providing your services for free
- Give someone an opportunity to go to school
There are so many ways you can pay it forward. You just need to keep your eyes open for opportunities that come your way. Once you do, you will realize just how many things you can help with.
So, there you have it. These are some of the things I tried out to become a more generous person. I came to understand that the more I helped people, the more automatic these acts became. So now, I pass on the baton to you. Let’s see what you can do with it.