Five Simple Ways to Increase Your Generosity

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We are a species that loves to help others and confront needs when we see them, but few of us are satisfied with our levels of generosity.

“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”  -John Bunyan

There are very few people who don’t like the idea of generosity. We are indeed a species that loves to help others and confront needs when we see them. Unfortunately, there are also very few people who are content with the level of generosity in their lives. Most people I know wish they were able to give more. And while there are a number of reasons that this may be the case… sometimes the best solution may be the simplest.

To that end, there are a number of simple steps that we can take to make generosity more intentional in our lives. If you have never given away any money or time, this would be a great way to get started (no matter what your current economic situation is). On the other hand, if you are just hoping to raise the level of generosity in your life, you will also find some of these simple steps to be relevant and helpful.

5 Simple Ways to Become a More Generous Person

  1. Consider the benefits of generosity – Generous people report being happier, healthier, and more satisfied with life than those who don’t give. Generosity produces within us a sense that we are capable of making a difference in the world, that we are actively addressing the needs of those around us, and that we are shaping our community into a healthier one. While generosity is typically seen as the opposite of self-serving, counting the personal benefits is indeed one of the most important steps that we can take in getting started.
  2. Embrace gratitude – Make a list of the things in your life for which you are grateful. Your list doesn’t have to be long. It won’t take much time. It doesn’t even have to be a physical list (in your head will be completely sufficient). Sometimes, the most important step you can take to become more generous is to spend more time thinking about what you already possess and less time thinking about what you don’t. Once you start intentionally thinking that way, you may be surprised just how good you already have it … and become more apt to share your life with others.
  3. Start really small – If you’ve never given away money, start by giving away $1. If you are embarrassed to give just $1, don’t be. You’ve got nothing to worry about: there are plenty of charities online that allow you to give with your credit card and you’ll never cross paths with the people who record your $1 donation. Of course, the point of this exercise is not to report a $1 tax deduction on your year-end tax return. The point is to get started. If you’ll feel more comfortable giving $5, $10, or $20, start there. But no matter what dollar amount you choose, jump right in with something small. You can afford it … and that little push can help build momentum in your life towards generosity.
  4. Give first – When you receive your next paycheck, make your first expense an act of giving. Often times, we wait to see how much we have left over before we determine how much we can give away. The problem is that most of the time after we start spending, there is nothing left over. The habit of spending all of it is too deeply ingrained in our lives. To counteract that cycle, give first. Every payday, write a check for $10 to your local homeless shelter. You just may be surprised how you won’t even miss it.
  5. Divert one specific expense – For a set period of time (try 29 days), divert one specific expense to a charity of your choosing. You may choose to bring a lunch to work, ride your bike to work once/week, or give up Starbucks on Mondays (wait, make that Thursday). Calculate the money you’ll save and then redirect it to a specific charity/cause. Whatever you choose, I recommend picking something that would be fun to give up—something unique that you’ll remember. 

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