If you are feeling down about how your life is going because your tax return didn’t show as much income as you had hoped, or your career hasn’t taken off like those around you, it’s helpful to remember that living a rich life has nothing to do with how much money you have. A truly rich life comes from finding meaning in what you do because this will add value that creates a wealth of happiness and joy.
One sure-fire way to bring more meaning into your life is to be more generous. And the good news is this doesn’t require spending a lot of cash.
While donating money to your favorite charitable cause is always a good idea, there are other ways to give that can benefit just as greatly as writing a big check.
1. Give Your Time
This is a biggie in the schools and any organization that seeks volunteers. By reshelving library books, or sorting through the clothing donations at a shelter, your contribution helps make progress where it is needed. After spending your time engaged in selfless service, you will not only have helped the organization, you will feel good about your efforts, and think less about your problems.
2. Give Your Attention
This works in tandem with the above. If you’re giving your time, but not paying any attention to what’s going on around you, it’s not going to make the same impact. So rather than mindlessly serve at the soup kitchen, try listening to the people you are serving and make conversation. Also, children often provide opportunities for us to give attention. As adults we sometimes tune out when we hear the small voice because it may not seem as important, but by giving them our attention we are increasing their self worth.
3. Give Your Energy
This calls more on your physical efforts like helping a mom carry her stroller up the stairs, or holding the door for the person behind you. Again, children offer up many opportunities for us to give energy, and it’s usually a simple exercise like pushing them on a swing, or kicking a ball in the park. By exerting extra energy for someone else, you are strengthening your connection to others, which is uplifting for everyone involved.
4. Give Your Affection
Whether it’s a sweet cuddle with your child, or a loving kiss to your husband, giving your affection is an easy way to make someone feel good about themself. Recent studies have shown children who receive affection from their parents have improved academic performance, and fewer psychological and behavior problems. And another study shows that babies with affectionate parents grow up to be happier, more resilient and less anxious. You can also give affection to a friend by paying a compliment on her new haircut, which will certainly make her feel good about how she looks.
The next time you are feeling down about your life, try giving your time, attention, energy or affection and see how it can put you in a better mood while raising someone else’s spirit.
How do you practice generosity? —Elysha