I have been hearing a lot about generosity lately – most recently at a live gig in Sydney where I got to see my guru get up on stage and do her thing. That guru, is Danielle LaPorte – author, speaker and overall permission giver.
I’m a note taker – the process of committing words to paper helps me understand and remember them. So later that evening, after my ferry ride home I paged through my well worn black leather notebook – and came across this:
“Generosity is the next frontier”
It was underlined, and took up 3 lines on my smallish note book page – so at the time – I obviously thought it was important. And then I remembered, it’s important because it was forming part of a pattern.
I am a massive believer that if something continually shows up in your life – its your job to pay attention to it and the concept of generosity has been showing up for me, big time.
I honestly don’t remember my first nudge towards paying attention to generosity. I think it was eons ago in some self help book I read on the skytrain in Vancouver- “whatever you want to receive in your life, try giving it away first.” At that time, I wasn’t in a receptive place and my only thought was “I only have $100 bucks in my back account, how the hell can I give anything away?!”
If you have been reading this blog for more than 5 seconds, you will know that I don’t hide behind a constructed image here – some sort of filtered and polished up me – instead I show you the real deal, flaws and all. That might turn some people off, but hey, fuck ’em, its my blog, and I’ll be myself if I want to.
So, here you have it – I have had a really hard time with money in the past. I have always had a roof over my head, clean water, food to eat and a family that loves me unconditionally – I’m smart, university educated, and a pretty decent human being. I don’t lie or steal and I always try to do the right thing by people. My parents raised me good. But money and me, we have had a weird, twisted, co-dependant and emotionally unavailable relationship ever since I can remember. Now, you can imagine that I found it really hard to buy into the concept of being generous, when I always felt like I didn’t have enough to get by. Can you relate?
As silly as it sounds, I actually had the thought process” I will be generous when I’m rich” – but of course, it doesn’t work that way.
So, I got another gentle reminder from the universe (we go way back, the universe and me), when I picked up a book named Thrive by Arianna Huffington – among other things, she is the creator of Huffington Post, and probable gajillionaire. She has a whole section in her book about generosity – and it got me thinking about the concept of being of service. She makes the case that giving, and generosity are paramount to our own wellbeing – and she’s got research to back her up.
One study showed that volunteering once a week increased wellbeing just as much as a $20 000 – $75 000 raise.
Yes, you read that correctly – giving away your time to people in need can make you happier than having a shit load of extra money!
Reading Arianna’s book got me really pumped about being generous – it has always felt like something I wanted to do, but just didn’t have the resources to back it up. You know, like if you wanted run a marathon, but had a broken leg – nice idea, but that shit ain’t gonna happen.
So – I decided to reframe my idea of what being generous means. For most of us, myself included – we think, in order to be generous you need at least one of two things: Time and/or Money. I didn’t have much of either. I had a full teaching schedule, and am saving for a overseas wedding & paying for my life coaching course (not to mention, my terribly useful University education).
OK, hmmm – so how can I be generous with out a lot of time or money to work with?
And then I had, what some people call a light-bulb-moment – Compliments.
Compliments! Compliments! I can do that – it doesn’t take time, or money – just the spirit of being generous – making someone else feel good!
Fuck yea! I was so excited, and still am about this – and I even think I have the universe on board with me. Let me tell you how I have been putting this into practice.
Some of you may be aware that I went on a little girls surfing holiday over Easter with 4 of my girlfriends – it was awesome, and I went JUST after I had this realization that I could give compliments as a way of being generous.
So, here we are in this little town in Northern NSW, with amazing surf breaks and it’s utterly rammed to the brim with tourists. Coming from a small fishing village in Nova Scotia – I know what its like to transition from sleepy little not-even-on-the-map-town, to a full blown tourist attraction within a single weekend. While it brings much needed money into these small towns, locals are often over worked, tired and a little protective of their home turf during these times. The perfect backdrop for a little generosity pick me up.
So – I made it my mission, that with every interaction I had with a local (or even my girl friends) I would tell them something nice I noticed about them or get them to smile in some way. I had to be creative, and it took me out of my urban comfort zone. Every shop clerk, barista, or fellow camper that I met got my best and most authentic compliment – and not only did I make them smile, but I felt amazing too!
(Now just a side note about compliments – In order to give an effective, and generous compliment it MUST, and I repeat MUST be genuine. People can tell if you give them a false compliment, and that doesn’t make anyone feel good ).
An act of generosity doesn’t go long, without the opportunity to receive. Last Tuesday night, as I stepped up to have my photo taken with Danielle LaPorte – what else did she say to me but, “You look great!” – and let me tell you, my high from that act of generosity is still going strong.
So if you want to feel good, if you want other people to feel good – be generous with your compliments. They are free, and take only 5 seconds – but you will be doing yourself, and your world a whole lot of good.
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