A crisis, they say, brings out the worst and the best in people. When we’re faced with something as serious as the coronavirus pandemic or the recent explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, we see the grim reality that a lot of people will take advantage of the situation for personal gain and advancement.
However, despite the trying times surrounding us and the wicked people who are up to no good, a glimmer of light and hope shines brightly in the people who selflessly and tirelessly give of themselves to make life better for others.
One would sometimes wonder why these people would give freely despite their own struggles. They give time, energy, money, wisdom, and love without expecting anything in return, and yet they seem happy and satisfied with what they’re doing. Somehow, there’s a sense of peace, fulfillment, and joy in their generosity.
The Rewards of True Generosity
The way we all understood generosity has been changed over the years. All this time, we thought that the recipient of the act was the only one who benefited from it. The truth is, the one who gains the most out of the transaction, for lack of a better term, is the one who gives. This is, after all, one of the oldest truths in the world, but one that we all fail to recognize: that a generous person prospers; he that refreshes others will himself be refreshed.
As mentioned, generosity can take on different forms. It can be in the form of you donating a handsome amount to a charitable institution or non-profit organization. Perhaps it’s you giving some of your time to care for the elderly who live in residential care homes or hospitals. Or maybe it’s extending extraordinary patience and understanding to someone who’s going through a very tough time in life.
Studies have found that a lifestyle of generosity is vital to one’s health and life. It improves mental health and increases longevity in our life, according to a 2003 study conducted by the University of Michigan. It also helps reduce stress, boosts the immune system, and gives us a higher purpose in life.
Generosity makes us more sensitive to the needs of other people. We can only truly experience giving when we see how great our personal efforts impact a person’s life. It shifts the focus from ourselves and takes away our self-centeredness.
This does not mean that we completely disregard our own welfare and health. It is still important to have a healthy awareness and sensitivity to oneself. After all, how can you take care of others when you can’t even take care of yourself, right? You can’t give what you don’t have. In aviation, in case something bad happens mid-flight, you are asked to put on your oxygen mask first before helping others. But there should be a healthy balance between self-care and compassion for others.
Generosity is one such manifestation of this compassion. Any act done freely out of compassion and empathy gives us a better sense of self-worth. The gratification we get out of seeing how we’re instrumental in meeting another person’s males us aware that there is a higher purpose in our life and existence that goes beyond just fulfilling our dreams and goals in life.
Another great thing that comes out of a generous lifestyle is that it is contagious. It has a great capacity to snowball and impact more people because in most cases, those who receive generosity tend to pay it forward.
The concept behind giving without asking nor expecting anything in return may be baffling to some, but to those who have made it a lifestyle, it is nothing short of liberating. It allows them to live free from the bondage of material things, money, and recognition. It sets them apart because they tend to experience what life is really all about. There is peace. There is contentment. There is the gladness of heart. There is a greater purpose in life.