Meaning of Life

Generosity is a two-way street

Carolyn Cooke
Carolyn Cooke
Vancouver, BC, Canada

The most interesting thing about generosity – and one thing I am just now learning – is that there is a generosity at work in receiving as well as giving.

To back up a little, we generally think of being generous as simply giving; giving time or money or attention to a person, place or situation, for example.

My coach recently presented me with a new idea to ponder and it is this: It is also a form of generosity to be open enough to receive. By this she meant receiving the love and fullness of another person is just as powerful a means of generosity as sharing our love and uniqueness with another or the world in general. It also entails being generous to ourselves and with ourselves; a person cannot give and give and give and never take the time or make the effort to balance that with receiving.

Eventually the well runs dry and we shut down emotionally and then mentally and then physically.

This idea of giving as receiving and receiving as giving can take the form of being so very centered in our selves that we start making choices based solely on what is truly important to us. I find it easy to be generous with my time, energy, money and talents. The hardest thing for me, and many others, is to learn to open up and be generous enough in our heart of hearts to receive the gift of what any particular relationship or opportunity offers. It is being generous to one’s self.

When we do this, when we begin to feel generous enough to see and accept the special qualities of people in our lives – whether we enjoy those aspects or not – we are also being most generous in sharing more of ourselves with that other. We take the radical step of no longer hiding behind social niceties or the de rigueur aloofness so endemic to our North American lives. At this point of openness and receptivity, we are living with more integrity and honesty than ever before and it parlays into a new level of generosity. And so the cycle goes.

All of a sudden, it’s easier to see the same person you’ve known for years with new eyes, to notice a sensitivity and grace that we simply hadn’t spotted before. When we meet a new person while in this centered heart space, we will tend to be more generous in our first impressions and likely more kindly, too, because what’s really happening is we are seeing and feeling and receiving with a larger part of ourselves; that larger part yearns for a deeper, fuller connection to others, and again to ourselves.

Any move toward being more generous in giving of ourselves is guaranteed to be rewarded with a gift of receiving more – more love, more kindness, more consideration, more support, more acceptance – from the people we encounter, even when they are people we’ve known for a long time.

Try it and see what happens.