Generosity is one of the easiest ways to develop your wellbeing and benefit your community.
Sometimes, with just one generous thought or action, we can feel uplifted. Additionally, by making choices that benefit others instead of ourselves, we inspire those around us to act similarly.
WHAT KIND OF COMMUNITY DO YOU WANT TO LIVE IN?
Because generosity works like a domino effect, it’s capabilities extend to transforming a community for the better - all starting with you. Even a small action, such as giving way to another driver on the road even though you’re in a rush, or letting someone skip the line ahead of you at the bank will inspire others to go forth and spread generosity.
Having said that - acting selfishly is even more contagious, and just think about it for a moment - is that the kind of community you desire to live in?
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
There is a plethora of data showing that when people engage in generous and unselfish behaviour, they activate circuits in their brain that are key to nurturing wellbeing. These circuits are activated in a way that is far more enduring than the way we respond to other positive occurrences, such as winning a prize or winning a game.
HOW CAN I BE MORE GENEROUS?
We are born into this world with innate goodness. When we practice exercises and acts designed to cultivate compassion and kindness, we are not actually creating something new. What we are doing is acknowledging and strengthening a quality that has been there right from the beginning. The brain is continuously being shaped, whether consciously or unconsciously – mostly the latter. Through premeditated shaping of the mind, we can enhance the brain in such a way that all the fundamental pillars of wellbeing are strengthened. By doing so, we can take accountability for our own minds.
Caring for others is a sort of “positive double whammy,” according to the Healthy Minds website. That’s because you also benefit from being generous to others. One study found that compassion training could alter our response to suffering.
One particularly impactful kindness practice involves reciting the following words deliberately and slowly, first with yourself, then with others:
May I be safe.
May I be healthy.
May I be happy.
May I live with ease.
You can then extend kindness to others by replacing “I” with “the people I encounter.”
TRAINING THE BRAIN
To increase your generosity through mindfulness, try the below activities.
PAUSE WHEN YOU GET TO THE STOP SIGN
Every time you come to a red light or stop sign, take a deep breath and be aware of how you are feeling, and then wish both yourself and another well. Recite the lines mentioned above. Continue reciting the words until the light changes or you are ready to move. With enough repetition, the red light and the stop sign become cues for cultivating kindness.
CONNECT WITH SOMEONE IN NEED
Make the decision to respond with generosity and kindness whenever you come across someone on the street asking for support. Pause and make contact with them and ask how they are doing. If you want to, offer a small donation or donate to a group that supports those in need.
TEACH YOUR CHILD TO BE GENEROUS
Generosity is not just about giving funds. It’s about reaching out in other ways, too. Teach children to be mindful of others and generous in heart by encouraging them to help a friend in need – whether that friend needs a shoulder to cry on, a study buddy, or even just someone to kick a ball around with.
Cultivating generosity is not challenging and is one of the easiest ways to develop wellbeing. By extending kindness at home (such as offering to help your spouse wash the dishes), and at school or work, you can contribute towards building healthy communities, positive minds, and, importantly, wellbeing.