The Gift of Giving: How Generosity Can Transform Your Life

We’ve all heard the old adage, “It’s better to give than to receive” – but how can generosity actually transform your life?  

First, it is important to understand what giving actually means.

Giving means to give without expectation – to give based on someone else's needs without expecting something will come back to you in return. When you give and expect something in return, it is a transaction. When you make a conscious decision from the heart to do something that will benefit another – whether you personally gain from it or not – it is generosity.

“When you can give without expecting anything in return, you have mastered the art of living.”- Jon Mead

When we give generously to others, it helps us live from the heart instead of the ego. Ego clings to status, approval, material wealth and control. That's why when we give from our ego, it is really more about us than the other person. But when we give generously, our priority shifts to how we can genuinely make a difference in the world. This is where the gift of giving comes into effect. Because when you open your heart to giving generously, you will quickly discover that you gain so much more from the satisfaction of giving than you could ever gain from something transactional.

“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get, but from what we give.” – Benjamin Carson

Being generous allows us to connect with ourselves, others and the world around us from a place of pure love. And there are so many ways to give. What matters most is not what you give, but rather how you give.

Award-winning author Frank Sonnenberg, wrote the following 10 giving guidelines in his Blog “Give Without Expecting Something in Return”:

  1. Give from your heart. Give out of kindness, not obligation.
  2. Give for no particular reason. Don’t wait for a special occasion. Every day is an opportunity to be generous.
  3. Give without being askedStep up to the plate before someone makes a request of you. Surprise them with your kindness.
  4. Give any way you can. Give a little if you can’t give a lot. But remember, if giving that gift doesn’t hurt a little — you’re not giving enough.
  5. Give without strings attached. Give without expecting something in return. Your reward should not result in personal gain but in making others happy.
  6. Give of yourself. Lavish gifts are not a substitute for caring. Give of your time, talent, or expertise.
  7. Give without creating dependency. Instill self-reliance. Teach someone “how to fish” rather than making them dependent on your benevolence.
  8. Give without attracting attention. Be humble. Don’t make a spectacle out of your generosity.
  9. Give for the right reason. Giving shouldn’t come with demands, conditions, a hidden agenda, or a scorecard.
  10. Give to those who need it most. There are people less fortunate than you. Make a difference in their life.

Within each of us, there is an unlimited supply of love and compassion. It is from this abundant heart space that generosity flows. Amy Love wrote about this in her Blog “Generosity vs. Giving. What does it mean to be Generous?” when she asked us to consider the following story by Thich Nhat Hahn:

There is a kind of vegetable in Vietnam called he (pronounced “hey”). It belongs to the onion family and looks like a scallion, and it is very good in soup. The more you cut the plants at the base the more they grow. If you don’t cut them, they won’t grow very much. But if you cut them often, right at the base of the stalk, they grow bigger and bigger. This is also true of the practice of generosity. If you give and continue to give, you become richer and richer all the time.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “The essence of life is to serve others and do good.” When you realize that giving to others will unlock profound riches in every aspect of your life, you will relieve yourself from the constant struggle to pursue personal gain and the transformation to living a joyous and fulfilled life will begin.