Generosity and attitude

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Many seemingly nice people are afraid to give any more of themselves than they absolutely must. However much they have, they don’t really like to share it with others. They see generosity as a nice ideal, but more for other people to concern themselves with. They always find a way to rationalise not doing it.

They can always give you a great excuse as to why, though they might extol the virtues of generosity verbally, they personally can’t quite stretch to it right now. Maybe they’re swamped at work, perhaps they’re short on money… whatever the excuse, they convince you that it’s temporary, and that one day soon, they’ll be in a position to be really generous. Who knows?Perhaps they even believe it themselves.

Of course, once work quietens down, once they have some free time, once they have a bit more money in the bank… they’re armed with a new reason why it’s still not quite time.

And that’s because it was never about not having enough time or enough money. The obstacle was not “out there.” The obstacle was inside – it was their attitude.

A closed attitude

There’s a brilliant chapter in Robert Greene’s “The Laws of Human Nature” about attitude. Basically, your attitude is the lens through which you view your life. We don’t see anything objectively – it is filtered through our attitude. As such, our attitude has the power to greatly colour the way we interpret events, and to ultimately become a self-perpetuating cycle.

If you have a closed attitude, you are much less likely to be generous, because you don’t see how it could possibly be work out in your favour. You’ve been screwed over too many times, people are always out to scam you… You live in fear of losing anything, and so you avoid any situation with the slightest risk of that. You see giving as fundamentally losing something – having it taken from you.

You are ultimately crafting your own cycle of diminishing returns – the less you sow, the less you reap, and the more you feel you need to guard and protect the little you do have, making you much more fearful about sowing in the future. And on, and on, and on.

An open attitude

With an an open attitude, on the other hand, you will actively embrace generosity, because you know that you can’t help but reap what you sow. Sure, you might have occasionally – or frequently – been screwed over, or taken advantage of, but you know that in the long-run, being generous puts the numbers on your side. And when the positive effects of sowing liberally massively outweigh the negative ones, it’s a no-brainer.

You are creating a cycle of accelerated returns – the more you sow, the more you reap, and the more you have confidence to sow again, and since you sow more, you inevitably reap more.

Attitude is both the cause and the effect

Generosity has nothing to do with the amount of something you have to begin with, and everything to do with your attitude regarding it. How else do you explain a world where we have tight-fisted billionaires and dirt-poor philanthropists?

Open yourself up. Be generous of your time, money, energy – whatever small amount you might have. It will come back to you a thousandfold – not necessarily in the form it left you in, but certainly in the spirit in which you gave it.

“I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Matthew 19:23

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