Do you consider yourself generous? Many of us don’t because we think we have to donate lots of money or time for volunteer causes to be generous. In our minds we create a high standard for generosity. When we do this, we miss out on all the opportunities to notice generosity in ourselves and others.
According to research by the Greater Good Science Center, generosity is actually built into our DNA as a species and is part of our evolutionary biology. And get this…it’s not just within the human species. We share our generous nature with lots of other species including bees, birds, bats, and chimpanzees. Our generosity (“prosocial behavior” in the form of acts that benefit others) across species is actually part of our survival mechanism. This study also shows the benefits to our health of cultivating a state of generosity within us. It activates the same reward pathway in our brains as sex and food, and across multiple studies, has shown strong correlations to vitality, self-esteem, and even delayed mortality. It’s good for us friends, and we’re wired for it! So becoming mindful of the ways we are already generous is hugely beneficial for us.
This week’s mindful practice is to cultivate generosity in the present moment. Notice how we are being generous with our attention, listening deeply to others. We can be generous in offering a smile, an appreciation, empathy, a kind word (or even refraining from saying something we will later regret). Generosity is offering someone the right of way in traffic, or some grace to be as they are. Generosity is giving the gift of your patience, enthusiasm, respect, love, or calm as you interact with others. There is nothing you have to do and no extra time required. Just noticing. Small acts of generosity are just as important as the big acts. Our bodies don’t know the difference and benefit from all. So start to make noticing generosity a habit this week.
Wishing you a mindful week,
P.S. One-Minute Mindfulness are short reads that give you a practice a week so you can experience being mindful in the activities you’re already doing. If you’d like to learn and create mindfulness habits with team-mates and friends, please share this link to sign up.
P.P.S. I would love for you to share your experience or questions from this practice and share what you’ve learned in the comments below.
P.P.P.S. Here’s the link to the Greater Good Science Center Research.