Many people look at the work that we do with children who have suffered trauma around the world and compliment us for being great people. But I have to confess that I consider helping innocents in far off places to be one of the easier forms of generosity. It is much harder to be generous with people who are closer to you and more responsible for their situations. Here are 5 ways to become a more generous person. We begin with the easiest and work our way up to the ones that are the hardest.
1. Make it Count
There are many wonderful organizations out there making great efforts to help people who truly need help. They all need your donation and will put it to good use making the world a better place. You will feel better for having helped the orphans, fed the hungry, dug wells, saved an endangered species or impacted climate change, all with the click of a mouse, without even having to leave your computer. You might not agree with every cause, but there is surely some cause that you can believe in enough to make a donation. You might have reservations whether the money will really get to where it is supposed to go, but there are plenty of sites that watch charities and rate them on things like accountability and overhead. You might not have enough money, but in reality even a small gift (like the cost of one meal out) when added to others makes a difference. So have you run out of excuses yet? Make a donation and get started on the road to generosity!
2. Make it a Habit
The next stop on this road is to make generosity not just something that you do on impulse but a habit in your life. This is achieved by repetition. A good start would be to choose a cause that you really believe in, something that you are personally connected to in some way, and commit to making a monthly donation. Don’t go overboard and burn out, but make a solid commitment to give what you know you can afford.
3. Make it Personal
So far generosity has been something you can do without getting your hands dirty. Here is where the fun really starts! The next step is to invest something much more valuable than cash; your time, energy and experience. The real hurdle here is not a busy schedule or lack of opportunity, but that whenever things become personal, they become messy. This is what I mean by getting your hands dirty. It is not the physical labor but the personal interactions that cause the most problems. With personal involvement come relationship issues, ego trips, power struggles and a whole host of other excuses not to volunteer. But with this third stage also come much greater rewards, because as you volunteer, not only are you giving, but you are also growing into a more generous person.
4. Make it Hurt
We have all heard the old sports adage, “No pain, no gain.” It is true in every area where we seek growth. The next stage is not only to give to causes that you are passionate about or to suffering innocents, but to be generous with those who are less than innocent, and to those you would normally overlook. Many more excuses arise at this point. We reason that we can’t possibly support every cause. We wonder what choices that person made to be in their situation. ”Do they deserve my help?” The answer to most of these questions is “No. they don’t” But the more important question is to ask yourself if you were in their place would you want someone to help you?
Here we finally come to the hardest level of generosity. To be giving, forgiving, generous and gracious with the people whom you know the best; Your wife, your husband, your children and your relatives. You know them inside out, backwards and forwards and if there is no good excuse you can dig one up from last week or last year. Amazingly, this is the big leagues, where all of the skills that you have learned and put into practice are put to use. You have to stop making excuses, and habitually choose to go past egos and personalities, past hurts and petty rivalries to give your love to the ones that mean the most to you.