Scott Farrell comments:
Ms. Gisonni addresses a very important but little-discussed aspect of generosity in today’s world: Too often, generosity is approached as a “duty” or an “obligation” rather than as a deliberate and voluntary choice. Her essay is a reminder of the importance of freely-given generosity as part of a chivalrous, knightly spirit.
When my father was alive, I was always acquiring pieces of his wardrobe — mainly robes, flannel shirts and hats. He was the type of person who would gladly give away all his worldly possessions, though he didn’t have much. If a friend was fond of something of his, he would say, “Here, take it. It’s yours!” without expecting anything in return. He wasn’t particularly attached to material things, so if it could make someone else happy, he’d give it away.
Sometimes the people who are the least fortunate financially are also the most generous. It seems that the more you have, the more you want to keep what you have. You become too attached to the material world and forget about all the people in it.
Most gifts are given out of guilt or obligation. We toss them back and forth for holidays or birthdays, like a grass-stained softball that’s waiting to be caught by a person who feels it’s rightfully theirs. Even charitable gifts can become more of a duty than an act of love. When I was growing up, my church dictated that 10 percent of the family’s income should be donated to the church. When donations were low, they were quick to remind us by devoting an entire sermon to the subject. And so, people gave out of guilt and in fear of being denied at the gates of heaven!
True generosity, however, comes from the heart and can take many forms — money, gifts, love, compassion, physical assistance, time, food, services, advice, or even an open ear. When you give unconditionally, it’s like releasing thousands of molecules of love and compassion into the universe that attach themselves to people, places and events. And, if you give anonymously, those molecules multiply exponentially!
Whatever you put out in this world comes back to you tenfold. It may not come back in the same form you sent it, but the universe will surely reciprocate, in some shape or form, in this lifetime or the next.
When I receive a gift, I can feel the love that surrounds it. It makes me happy and thankful. When I give a gift, I feel the same love, because that person’s happiness and gratitude is my gift. Giving is receiving, and receiving is giving. They are one and the same.
Five ways to choose generosity in your life:
- Give someone a gift, just because.
- Don’t brag about what you give.
- Never expect anything in return for your generosity.
- If you think someone could use some help, offer before they ask.
- Each morning, ask yourself how you can serve humanity — then do so.
© 2003 Debbie Gisonni
About the Author: Debbie Gisonni is The Goddess of REAL Life™. Through her books, articles and CDs, and her popular seminars, she helps people connect their sometimes forgotten inner power with the real life issues they face every day — from the tragic to the trivial. Her mantra is: “SNAP out of it!”™ Debbie is the author of, Vita’s Will: Real Life Lessons about Life, Death & Moving On, Snap Out Of It! 25 Choices To Be Happy, and the column, Be Happy, read by over 150,000 people. You can learn more by visiting her website at www.reallifelessons.com which is highly recommended by the staff at Chivalry Today. No part of this article may be reproduced without written permission from the author.