Looking for more joy in your life? Might I suggest reading The Dali Lama and Desmond TuTu’s book, The Book of Joy. The Eighth Pillar of Joy: Generosity
This writing will wrap-up my musings about the Eight Pillars of Joy that Desmond Tutu and the Dali Lama speak about in their book, The Book of Joy. For me, musing about these eight pillars, Perspective, Humility, Humor, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Compassion, and Generosity has been spiritually enriching and I hope you find the exercises, reflections, and thoughts about each of them, food for your soul and a delicacy for you spirit.
Generosity is that quality of selflessness that we extend to others. Others are important and we feel better when we connect, give, and treat others as important members of our lives. We are coming full circle in this Eight Pillar because the Dali Lama and Desmond Tutu have continued to share stories that address the need for us-them to become one. We must learn to take care of ourselves. Why? At a very basic level, so we can experience deep joy when we reach out and take care of others. If we don’t take care of ourselves in a selfless way, then we will have to authentic energy to take care of others. We must fill our cups to have something to give.
There are two branches of this Eighth Pillar that I think are important to note. One is psychological. What good is it to make someone else happy by giving them kindness when we trash ourselves? If we do not practice self-discipline by challenging our own self-talk to be kind and generous to ourself, eventually we will be bitter and resentful. Our soul will become crippled, withdrawn, and empty if we do not practice patience, kindness, love and generosity with ourself first. We now have research data that shows us how negative thoughts change our biology, and physical chemistry, leading to multiple physical diseases and bodily discomfort. So, let’s make a commitment to ourselves to practice generosity, especially emotional and mental generosity with ourselves so that we can be authentic and genuine when we practice Generosity with others.
This is how it translates to the world. For instance, if we decide to give a beggar $5.00, we don’t give out of guilt and then say, “Oh, he will probably just get drunk with it.” Generosity comes from the heart of joy. Generosity’s message is, “I see you. I see your need. I am not responsible for any of your life’s choices, but here is $5.00. It is a gift with no strings attached. Do with it what you must.” Hear the difference in the spirit of generosity. One is begrudging and judgmental, motivated by guilt. With that attitude, we lose $5.00 and the loss of joy for sharing our $5.00. There is no joy in giving out of guilt, so do not bother. It is a wasted action. Lets learn to use guilt to explore deeper inside of ourselves as to where those judgements come from and why we choose to hold on to them? Let’s invite our judgements to be our teachers. It is in this explorative mindset that we come to realize the truth in that old saying that, the way we judge others is really how we judge ourselves. When we confront our judgmental selves we let ourselves out of prison and become free to experience the joy in giving. Whether you give $5.00 or $5000 dollars let it flow freely and benefit you with unexplainable joy. We are not far removed from the homeless person that we find hard to have eye contact with on the street. The truth of the matter is we don’t make eye contact with the homeless person because we are afraid that one day that might be us. We treat them as if they are contagious because we are afraid of being them. Each of us is only one health problem, one disaster, one tragedy away from being that homeless one. Let’s be careful with our thoughts and actions. Let’s become a more generous person and allow our hearts to overflow with joy as the benefit of giving to others.
When we give to others out of the heart of generosity, whether it be money, time, a card in the mail, an unexpected phone call, a gift out of nowhere, a cup of coffee or a generous smile of compassion to the person having a difficult day, we are filling our own hearts with joy, reaping meaning and richness of spirit. Life is better lived and experienced by our generosity that makes life all around us better.
An act of generosity is like a pebble in a lake or the theory of six degrees of separation. When we do something for someone or even ourselves then we feel better. When we feel better we pass it on naturally to others. When we brighten someone else’s day, they feel better. When they feel better they pass it on to others. The wave of generosity moves through your family, community, and on to the world. The theory, the six degrees of separation, means that our one act or one connection affects at least six others. And the movement continues. Do not be stingy with our smiles. Give it away freely this week and notice how much more we are smiling by the end of the week and then notice how much happier we are becoming by the end of the month. The energy is miraculous; it just keeps on going until the whole earth is blessed because you chose to be generous. Catch the wave and ride into purpose.
If you want to read my take on the first seven pillars, just go back in the archives and start with Perspective and move forward from there.
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