Generous Thoughts with Kathy

You are not a human being having a spiritual experience.
You are a spiritual being having a human experience.

Wayne W. Dyer

by Kathy LeMay

To me, generosity is not so much about how much you give but the spirit with which you give, the way you move through the world. Many of us are taught to be generous with our good fortune: our financial resources, our talents, our time. What about when it's more difficult to be generous? Are you generous during conflict? in rush hour traffic? when you're anxious or overwhelmed? Are you generous when you feel the world has not been generous to you? 

Generous With Your Word. During stressful times- family changes, decreased income, increased bills, health challenges- it can be easy to allow stress to change how you communicate with others. Before reacting to a tough situation, think about how you would respond if everything was in order. Owe money on a bill you don't believe you owe? Before calling the debtor, imagine you have the resources needed to pay the bill. How might you approach the conversation differently? Will you be generous with your word choice? Will you ask if you can work together to resolve the situation? How would you want to be approached when it comes to someone being generous with their word with you? Generosity is much more than money. 

Generous With Your Spirit. I once shared in a speech that more important than the checks I write is connecting with myself to see if I've been generous with my spirit. Someone in the audience wisely asked: it's easy to measure generosity with our check book and the percentage of income we contribute, how do you know if you're generous with your spirit? For me generosity of spirit is what Gandhi calls that "still small voice". It's when you know you have the opportunity to take the higher road and you can take it. When you know you could be "right" and instead you choose kind. When instead of seeking to be understood you seek to understand. When loving others includes everyone even those folks you don't like so much. This practice I find remarkably more challenging than check-writing. What I have found is this: when I am generous with my spirit, money flows more readily and check-writing follows. When I am not areas in my life get stuck, including money. A generous spirit may take a different discipline than a generosity or giving plan and it may also just open up something in your life that you never expected. 

Generous With Your Listening Heart. This summer, make a conscious decision to listen. No matter the temptation to interject your opinion, prep yourself for the great comeback, or dispense advice, be liberal with your listening. If you are listening and not waiting to be heard, what might you hear that can actually benefit you? If you are a fundraiser this may be the tool you need to integrate to truly understand the thinking, hopes and motivations of your donor partners. If you are a donor, you can further develop your skill of listening to what the deepest needs are of the projects you are involved in and supporting. Be generous with your listening heart and watch what begins to transform. And remember, generosity takes practice. So if you interrupt, don't keep talking. Reel it back in and let the newfound generous heart listen commence!