For most of us, personal growth and self-development means looking at things that make us happy, learning new skills, improving on existing ones, developing existing or new relationships. Work on things that give us an opportunity to grow and change (for the better) as a person and feel good about ourselves. However, many of us do not think that generosity is an opportunity for personal growth. On a broader aspect generosity means giving your time, knowledge and experience. It is not just about giving money, monetary gifts and donations.

Quite often, information is the thing we can share and give and isn’t a material item, or cost anything other than our time. Most human relationships revolve around the exchange of information with one another. This is something everyone can do and provide benefits for the giver and the recipient.

Some non-monetary ways of being generous are:

  • Giving our time – helping someone doesn’t take up too much of our time. This could be simply helping an elderly person shop, carry a large item, reach out for items, advise them on something they might not have any experience with, help someone with a toddler carry a large item. Another way would be offering your expertise and skills. Every year I offer my services for various projects for a charity or someone in need of it. I do this because I can and I want to offer something to people who are already being generous.
  • Acts of kindness – opportunities to be kind would be, a smile, a conversation or simply taking an interest in someone. By setting yourself reminders to do an act of kindness you become more aware and opportunities will present themselves.
  • Be helpful – if a friend, a family member, a neighbour, a work colleague needs some help why not be helpful. Simply keeping a door open for someone with small children is a helpful action.

Show appreciation

Many times other people will be generous and kind towards us. Appreciating those actions I have found to be a great way towards improving relationships. All social interactions are give and take. However when it comes to dealing with self-centered people, this give and take can become exploitable. For a naturally generous person it can take a long time to notice that the giving is not reciprocal. It doesn’t mean that when the action is reciprocated it will come back to you in the same way. But when they show no acts of generosity, at some point, the one-sided action will be felt and can become a source for destroying a relationship. One of my neighbours who will happily accept things from me but when it comes to reciprocating the action, he will not lift a finger to help out. I don’t expect anything from him but sometimes an effort to have a friendly conversation with his neighbours or even some consideration for others when he does his DIY at 11pm, would go a long way. I no longer make the effort to be generous to him and our only conversation is just saying hello.

To gain the benefits of your generosity do it without expecting anything back or try to give more than you take. Go the extra mile and help someone figure out a problem, or take a few minutes and chat with your neighbour, smile to a stranger. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will make you feel good and change the relationship with that person you have helped.