“The mindful cultivation of generosity”

Generosity is one of the five elements of working out loud. There’s an entire chapter about it in the book which describes why and how you benefit from making small contributions freely, without strings attached.

“You don’t need to keep score or view networking as a set of transactions. Rather, you contribute to individuals in your network without expectations, knowing that, across the entirety of the network…you will ultimately benefit too.”

This week in Japan, I was reading a very different kind of book with its own chapter on generosity, and it described some other remarkable benefits.

Wherever You Go There You Are

Wherever You Go There You Are

A different kind of chapter on generosity

The book is Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn, an inspiring and yet practical guide on meditation and becoming more mindful.

“Generosity is another quality which, like patience, letting go, non-judging, and trust, provides a solid foundation for mindfulness practice.”

He used the phrase “the mindful cultivation of generosity” to describe the practice of learning how and why to give, beginning with small steps.

“A good place to start is with yourself. See if you can give yourself gifts…such as self-acceptance, or some time each day with no purpose. Practice feeling deserving enough to accept these gifts without obligation - to simply receive from yourself.

Experiment with giving…in little ways at first - directing it toward yourself and toward others with no thought of gain or return.”

The practice of giving

The small gifts can be the universal ones we begin with in Working Out Loud circles. These include recognition and appreciation, showing gratitude, giving credit and positive feedback, letting people know you’re thinking of them. When offering even these seemingly simple gifts, you become more in touch with your motives for giving. As you practice offering gifts freely, you open yourself up to doing and being more, to giving more of yourself.

“Give more than you think you can, trusting that you are richer than you think. Celebrate this richness, Give as if you had inexhaustible wealth. This is called ‘kingly giving.’"

He’s not speaking of money or even your time, but of something more important.

"…practice sharing the fullness of your being, your best self, your enthusiasm, your vitality, your spirit, your trust, your openness, above all, your presence.”

The benefits

While a given individual may not respond to your offering, there will tend to be a response from your network as a whole, particularly as you deepen relationships with people. They’ll be more likely to help you, for example.

The mindful cultivation of generosity, though, does more than help you reach your goals. It expands your sense of who you are, what you’re capable of, and what’s possible.

“Giving…helps us become more mindful of our inner wealth. By practicing mindfulness of generosity, by giving, and by observing its effects on ourselves and others, we are…discovering expanded versions of ourselves.

Initiate giving. Don’t wait for someone to ask. See what happens - especially to you. You may find that, rather than exhausting yourself or your resources, you will replenish them. Such is the power of mindful, selfless generosity.”