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Sharon Kinsey's Blog

Several years ago, a good friend gave me a copy of Matthew Kelly’s book called The Generosity Habit. It’s a simple book, easy to read and easy to understand. Kelly’s theory is that we can fill our lives with purpose and meaning if we just give something away every day. And we don’t need a lot of money or “stuff” to make extravagant generosity part of our daily mission. 


The apostle Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35) But, what can we give and why is that act so important to both the giver and the one who receives the gift? If we are generous with our time, expertise, resources, love, creativity, and nurture, aren’t we taking the focus off ourselves for a bit, and putting it on others in need? Philippians 2:4-5 says, “Don’t look out for only your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Jesus had.”


Which brings me back to Matthew Kelly. He writes a lot about how the world needs changing. But exactly how do we go about changing the emphasis from our desire for more, bigger, faster, or shinier to a life grounded in the best of our humanity? Generosity isn’t just for the wealthy and powerful – it’s for all of us! It’s been said that it’s not the things we do, but rather, it’s who we are. And, we can learn how to make it a way of life, a priority, a cornerstone of our faith, and a source of great joy. Imagine if each of us made it a habit to give something away every day. Would we all be happier, healthier, more grateful? Might we become more tuned in to the meaning of our life and the lives of others? Would we have a better outlook? Would it lower our blood pressure and curb some anxiety? Could it be what our soul is longing for? Who knows, but it is probably worth a try.   


So, let’s think about what we can give to others. When our boys were littles, we read Aesop’s fables and reminded them that, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” So, we put fallen baby birds back in the nest, we sang the “Clean-up” song at Sunday School and helped put the blocks away; we took banana bread to a neighbor who was sick, we sang “Happy Birthday” to Nana on the phone. My suggestion is to start out by making a list of ideas – take time to plan ahead. Eventually you won’t need to be so vigilant. Spontaneity will take over and daily acts of generosity will become second nature. 


Here are some ideas: leave someone an uplifting voicemail, spoken with an open heart and not expecting a response; at a meeting, speak well of others who aren’t in attendance; be generous with hugs; offer a bottle of cold water to the UPS driver on a hot day; stand up for a child who is being bullied; keep extra chap-stick on hand to give someone who needs it; learn CPR; make someone laugh. You see, the list is endless. Think about the random acts of kindness that have lifted you – the employee at Costco who sings as he prepares samples; the person who asks, “What can I do for you?” when you are having a tough time; the friend who says that you look especially pretty when you wear your blue sweater; the young man who offers his arm when you climb the bleachers at a game (one of my favorites). Maya Angelou said, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” All you need is an open heart that asks nothing in return. Why not give it a try!


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