Saturday, August 29, 2015

Generosity = Happiness

Every day, we have an opportunity to practice philanthropy as an act of love. Giving opens our hearts to humanity. We all have the power to make a difference regardless of our means. How we give and channel the gift of our life to connect it to purpose is a soulful journey. Passion, aligned with purpose, creates a life of meaning. 

Underexposed by Aaron Draper
Aaron Draper's powerful images of the homeless sends a message about how one person can make a difference using his creativity and talent to be a catalyst for transformation. 

You don't have to be a millionaire to be a philanthropist. True philanthropy goes beyond our ability to write a check. No matter what we have or don't have, we can all give of our Self. 

Giving is an expression of who we are, the gift of our time, energy and imagination. Time is free and therefore priceless, yet in our busy lives, it is often easier to just send a check than to participate actively in making change happen. 

Generosity requires action. To be generous, you must act on your compassion because generosity is compassion in action. 

Generosity is a practice. It is a muscle that needs exercise and, as with anything we practice, we get better at it over time. We don't have to take on something big. Mother Teresa's words should inspire us to "Do small things with great love." 

Generosity is contagious. It creates a ripple effect, working its magic, one person at a time. This positive force for good multiplies effortlessly, animating families, friends, communities, cultures, and the world at large. Tapping into this kinship and one-ness with humanity is what philanthropy is all about.

Generosity is at the heart of all the world's religions. The Islamic concept of sadaqah and the Jewish practice of tzedakah both embody the spiritual value of giving as an act of compassion, and an expression of justice and righteousness in their respective traditions. Christianity teaches that it is in giving that we receive

The Hebrew word, "Natan" is a mirror word spelled the same backward and forward, containing the double meaning: "to give" as well as "to receive." The Buddhist concept of generosity pictures one hand giving and the other hand receiving in a continuous cycle until one can no longer distinguish which hand is giving and which hand is receiving. 

H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama once said compassion, the most generous act there is, is actually a selfish act because it benefits the giver as much as the receiver. Generosity changes us as we encounter our self when we open our heart to the other. This gift of inner transformation is the gift we gain from our own giving and ultimately, our most fulfilling reward.

In a research study on kindness and compassion initiated by the Dalai Lama, neuroscientists monitored the brains of Buddhist monks as they meditated because the Dalai Lama wanted to know what modern science reveals about the brains of people who spent years "cultivating well-being and qualities of the mind which promote a positive outlook."

Results showed that the best way to activate positive emotion circuits in the brain was through generosity. This experiment proved that systemic changes in the brain are associated with acts of generosity. So, if you want to be happy, be generous!

One of the Dalai Lama's Unsung Heroes of Compassion is a young man from California named Nipun Mehta. Nipun embarked on a sacred journey, leaving a software career, shedding his belongings, and taking off for a walking pilgrimage through India with his wife. Living on a dollar a day, depending on the kindness of strangers for food and shelter, they allowed compassion to guide them in unscripted acts of service along the way. 

Nipun says, "Walking humbly, stripped of comfort and accustomed identities, allowed us to encounter people as they were, cultivated an inner awareness to live in a space greater than our ego, and moved us from an ego plan to a divine plan as we dropped almost everything to venture beyond, toward the unknown." 

The experience revealed what it meant to be the change they wanted to see in the world. Transformed by the generosity of the poorest people who would offer something - a place to stay, the little food they had to share - Nipun started a movement he calls giftivism, changing the world with one act of kindness at a time.

His website, Service Space, leverages the web to inspire small acts of service. Nipun’s experiment in the joy of giving blossomed into an ecosystem of generosity driven projects that touches thousands of lives. 

Today, over 300,000 people practice giftivism, performing acts of radical generosity that pay it forward - offering free rickshaw rides in Malaysia, buying a meal for the next customer, treating a stranger to a cup of coffee, exchanging a business class seat with someone in Economy. 

Every person touched by these small acts of love is transformed.

Every day, we can tap into the heart of One-ness by choosing to do one small thing for someone else. Every act of generosity transforms, - first ourselves, then other beings, our planet, our world - the whole ecosystem in the web of life.

Don't wait to make your first million to be generous. Start living a life of generosity NOW! I invite you to begin with one act of generosity and watch that ripple spread.

Be Selfish, Be Generous | KarmaTube

"Generosity is the most natural outward expression of an inner attitude of compassion and loving-kindness. When one desires to alleviate the suffering of others and to promote their well-being, then generosity ---- in action, word, and thought ---- is this desire put into practice. "Generosity" here refers not just to giving in a material sense but to generosity of the heart.~ His Holiness, The 14th Dalai Lama