Values-Based Generosity

Melissa Martin, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Certified Pilates Instructor |

As we are now entering the holiday season, it feels like a good time to revisit the evergreen topic of generosity. It’s easy to do so during a season of giving, but what would that look like cultivating this as a year-round habit and lifestyle? At its core, generosity is an expression of your views around money and material possessions. We tend to fall into one of two categories of belief around the topic that significantly drives our behavior around this: scarcity or abundance.

Scarcity is the belief that there isn’t enough resources to go around. That you need to grab what’s yours before it all runs out. It breeds envy, competition, hoarding of resources, and zero generosity or gratitude with what we have. This is not an ideal place to operate from because in this paradigm everyone loses. We feel anxious and on edge, always worried about trying to accumulate and hold on to what we have, and then fear losing it. It focuses on “me” and not “us” or “you”. This not only just applies to our money and material goods, but in every other area of life.

Abundance is the belief that there is enough for everyone to go around and that more can even be created. It’s the feeling that I have enough and am content with that, whatever my situation actually looks like. Abundance allows me to relax and not worry about money, and to be generous and giving knowing there will always be more. It helps me focus less on “me” and more on the wellbeing of others and their needs. A common misconception is that you must make a certain level of income in order to be generous, however, abundance is actually a mindset. You can have all the money in the world and be stingy and cheap with it, or have a very modest income yet be generous and giving to others. We all win and benefit in this paradigm. Research has shown that people who practice gratitude and contentment with what they have actually sleep better at night and are less stressed overall. For this reason, journaling through a gratitude list every night before bed is one of the recommended therapies for those being treated for insomnia.

You might be wondering where and how to start with being generous. After bringing awareness to scarcity and abundance, where do you find yourself operating out of the most? Is this in line with how you want to feel or live your life? Simply recognizing this in a non-judgmental way is about 90% of shifting into where you want to be.

The next step is to identify your core values. These are the things in life that you hold most dear. To give an example, mine are faith, family, health, community, and security. I realized this after deep reflection about the things that really light me up and where I naturally spend my most time and energy. When I give and am generous with these things in mind, my generosity is matched by things I am passionate and care deeply about. It is a pleasure and joy to give back to these things in my life. For me, this may look like volunteering my time and money to my local church, purchasing a home with a more open layout to accommodate family gatherings as opposed to other options, and investing in community health outreaches and programs. I may also decide to invest in home security, various types of insurance policies to plan for the certainty of uncertainty of life, and look for ways to donate to community safety initiatives. There are many, many options for me to invest my time and resources into, and this helps me narrow it down to where I will make the most impact and be the most fulfilling for me to give.

I highly recommend over a period of time taking some notes and reflecting on what these core values might be for you and/or your spouse and family. One of my favorite ways to get this process going is to get a copy of the book The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte. This will walk you through reflecting and discovering your core values and learn how to intentionally work towards creating more of the things you want in your life.