The Generous Heart: How Giving Transforms Us
by Cindy Ricardo
One of the ways we come into balance and connection with each other and with life is by giving from the heart. When we give to others, whether it’s an act of kindness, generosity or compassion, it helps us live from the heart instead of the ego.
Living from the ego is painful and exhausting. It’s like feeding a hungry monster that’s never satisfied. Ego craves, pursues and clings to status, approval, material wealth and control. It views the world through the eyes of fear—constantly evaluating, judging and acting in ways that are self-centered, defensive and protective. Like with Scrooge, ego closes our heart and makes us small, fearful and contracted.
By contrast, generosity requires that we open our hearts to the world and each other. We allow ourselves to be vulnerable. In doing this, we open ourselves fully to life, love and relationships. We let go of striving and pursuing things. When we stop striving, we begin to see, value and respond to what’s happening in the present moment in ways that are healthy and healing. Our priority shifts from acquiring things to appreciating what we have and being open to sharing with others.
Generosity is a quality of kindness, of living from a place of abundance. We see the world through a clear lens that isn’t clouded by fear, wanting or clinging. When we interact with others, our connection is genuine. We see people instead of judgments or labels.
Being generous arises from the heart, not the wallet. We don’t need to have material wealth in order to be generous. The only requirement is a willingness to open our hearts, to see life as it is and to interact with others from a place of compassion and love. Some examples of generous acts are:
- Doing a household chore without being asked.
- Setting aside what we’re doing and listening to someone in need of emotional support.
- Telling loved ones what we appreciate about them.
- Listening to children and trying to see the world through their eyes before offering advice.
- Smiling at a stranger.
- When asking, “How are you?” looking into the person’s eyes and taking time to truly listen with an attitude of curiosity and compassion.
Generosity awakens goodness in the heart, and this helps us open to life, love and relationships.
Cindy Ricardo is a Coral Springs, Florida-based psychotherapist who blogs at A Caring Counselor.