Generosity is a primary tenant of the world's religions, and the followers respond out of gratitude, directives or the hope of a better spot in heaven. The irreligious embrace the practice as a moral imperative to meet the needs of the suffering and a desire to combat the wrongs in the world. For others, the motivation may stem from the tax write-off, their name on the University building or their legacy.
The feelings that wash over you as you extend yourself to meet the needs of others can be rather intoxicating. The desire to regularly visit the prison, serve at the soup kitchen or pull together Christmas shoe boxes for overseas orphans provide direct feedback of help offered and received. Meeting new people, sharing life and knowing you have helped someone in need, delivers quite the endorphin rush.
Does sad music dubbed over video of the abused animals stir your heart and move your feet into action or is it another cause that has your attention? How about the media blitz that follows a natural disaster or a viral stunt like the ALS ice bucket challenge a couple of years ago? The Bible discusses giving in secret, not letting your left hand know what your right hand is doing. Before I rap my gavel on the bench in judgment, I have found myself hoping just a little bit, which I would be found out, to earn a few pats on the back. What do you think about giving anonymously?
Those that have struggled on the hairy edge of survival can easily recount the generous occurrences of someone coming to their aid. I haven't been on the street, but my hairy edge experiences are enough to recall these memories of kindness that are consecrated in my mind for a lifetime. I have experienced the impact of the lower level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs not being met. I stay in fight or flight with sustained elevated cortisol levels that prevents my body from achieving rest and healing until these basic needs are met.
Going Further: How does your faith inform your generosity? How have your motives toward generosity changed? What characterizes your generosity? How do you like to be generous? What is a personal favorite story of generosity? How can you grow in this virtue?
YouTube link: What motivates you to generosity?