“Let’s stop thinking about giving as just this moral obligation and start thinking of it as a source of pleasure”
In America, we are in-between the holidays of Thanksgiving & Christmas and I know that these holidays can be looked at through a lens of tragedy, colonized history, paganism & Christianity but today we will be talking about the SPIRIT of gratitude and generosity. Not because those aforementioned topics should be forgotten or skipped over but because I truly believe that gratitude and generosity are two of the main ingredients in the recipe of happiness.
Before 2020 most of us needed a gratitude list to balance out the busyness of our lives, to keep us grounded and present when life & our society are future and goal-oriented. Much like most things, this year has put the importance of gratitude into focus. Several of us feel like we are victims of 2020 and aren’t even sure how to feel grateful right now. Perspective shifting is your most important tool.
Gratitude takes what we have and turns it into enough. It takes our feelings of lack and scarcity and transforms those feelings into satisfaction and abundance. Now I’m not saying it doesn’t suck that you’re broke as hell due to this pandemic, but creativity and resourcefulness flows much more freely when you are in a mindset of gratitude. This is going to help your situation more than falling victim to it will. If you focus on your partner’s lack of giving you attention then you’ll most likely fail to see the ways they ARE expressing their love. If your focus is on how messed up things are or have been then you might miss out on feeling grateful for how far things have come and how change can be a beautiful thing.
“But sometimes a gratitude list or perspective-shifting isn’t enough!” When you are experiencing this, I challenge you to step into generosity. Pay someone a random compliment. Bring in your neighbor’s trashcans. Say a loving-kindness meditation for someone who is on your last damn nerve. Give a few bucks to a fundraiser for someone or a business in your community. I know this might sound counterintuitive to the adage, “one can’t serve from an empty cup,” but Elizabeth Dunn has researched this and shows that helping others makes us happier. The caveat is that you have to be able to envision how your contribution will make a difference.
We recently contributed to a Go-Fund Me to help out a local pub, I imagined the room full of people enjoying live music. When sending loving-kindness to my uncle who drives me a little crazy, I imagine my grandma appreciating all the help he provides her. If I hand a panhandler a few bucks, I imagine them eating later that night. A few years ago, my husband and I stopped giving each other Christmas presents and started buying gifts & necessities for people in the homeless shelter instead – it is so rewarding and brings us much more holiday cheer than any material things could.
Generosity easily follows the law of reciprocity and when we give generously it inspires feelings of abundance. Reminder, energy goes where attention flows. When we concentrate on the effect (money, attention, clients) we forget the cause (your why, purpose, or intention) and when we forget our cause, the effect begins to diminish.
How can you shift your perspectives and find more to be grateful for? How can you reconnect to your purpose or intentions and give generously? Challenge yourself to give something extra this week and take notice of how it makes you feel.