The Gift of Generosity

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There’s a website that goes by the name of Rockstar Finance. The primary purpose of the site is to aggregate all personal finance blogs in one space, and organize blog postings according to subject matter, and other relevant categories. As of today, the site boasts 1,321 listed blogs. That’s a whole lot of folks (including yours truly) sharing thoughts about money, doing their best to inform and educate readers about anything and everything related to the notion of money.

How to earn more money.

Get out of debt.

Save for retirement.

Stick to a budget.

Pay off your mortgage.

Build wealth.

Invest smart.

Spend wisely.

Reduce expenses.

Become a millionaire.

Live frugally.

Consume less.

These are some of the common topics discussed by bloggers. And the posts are often helpful. Because we live in a money-centric world. And too many people lack knowledge/information supporting effective navigation of day-to-day money issues. So, we educate our self thereby increasing our self-sufficiency, maximizing our sense of freedom.

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What About Giving?

The tagline for the BuddhaMoney site is: Find Balance, Be Wealthy. And my idea of balance comes from more than focusing on the self and improving the state of my finances. Don’t get me wrong here; money is important, we need money just to get by in life never mind affording luxuries.

But money and accumulating stuff can’t be the sole focus because an integral part of balance and wealth includes sharing and giving to others. A little something called generosity. And when we are generous, when our focus is not solely on our self, well, this is when we experience peace and freedom and happiness.

You ever hold the door open for another person to walk through ahead of you? Give directions to a stranger? Snap a photo for a tourist? Recognize someone’s birthday? Give clothing to charity? Say ‘thank you’ and mean it. Listen, truly listen, to someone without interrupting, without judging? Say ‘I’m sorry’ after you’ve caused hurt through words or actions? Lend money because the other person needs it and because you can afford to?

These are all small acts of generosity. No, wait. Let me clarify. There are no ‘big’ or ‘small’ generous gestures. Because generosity is generosity. There’s no point in quantifying or measuring. It’s not a competition.

When we feel generous, we give. What we give is entirely up to us (i.e., money, material objects, time, wisdom, support, etc). But whatever the gift, the act of giving itself says ‘I’m putting another being first, relegating my personal wants to the backseat’.

Why does this matter? Because when we give without reservation, give from the heart, we feel pure joy, a sort of lightness of being. And it’s an amazing feeling.

In part, this feeling is generated by a sense of letting go of whatever you’re holding onto too tightly, i.e., money, stuff, an idea, expectation, or your own sense of importance. And when we let go, we broaden our perspective and broaden our world simply because we’re no longer self focused, and others gain as much importance as we ascribe to our self. Then our world grows more expansive and our happiness more habitual.

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Joy to the World

When I was in third grade, my teacher was friends with a producer of the kids television show, Sesame Street. Somehow, my teacher finagled for myself and several other students to appear on the show, mostly to sing a song the title of which I knew to be Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog. Sometime later, I learned that the actual title is Joy To The World (the band Three Dog Night sings the most well known version. Although, in my biased opinion, I will say that the version belted out by my enthusiastic classmates and I would surely hold its own against Three Dog Night).

Such generosity! What an amazing gift! And to this day, I thank my teacher for her kindness, for going out of her way to bring this experience to her students. And it’s an experience I always look back upon fondly and with appreciation (the memory is most often triggered by hearing the song!).

Everyday, several times per day, we have the choice to bring it, to bring Joy, to our self, and spread it to others. And we can do this in so many ways starting with showing respect, offering good wishes, or being polite to others. Not just because family and society teaches us this sort of behavior, but because this is our nature. And when we behave in a manner that’s true to our nature, we feel balanced and calm.

To the contrary, when anger or jealousy or pride take hold, we’re completely out of balance, filled with negativity, suspicion and distrust. Who wants to be around people like that? I mean, when I’m feeling negative, I don’t want to be around myself!

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Find Balance, Be Wealthy

Read personal finance blogs (shameless plug: BuddhaMoney knows a thing or two), mainstream financial media, and other sources of information intended to educate your self about money management. Learn ways to up your income, decrease expenses, save, invest and grow wealthy.

And … if you’re of the mind that peace and happiness are important, know that a starting point to healthy well being and relationships with others includes practicing and cultivating generosity of spirit. Because this, not a seven figure portfolio, is where true freedom and joy come from (that, and daily sing alongs with Three Dog Night to Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog).