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Breaking the Time Barrier

Almost everyone- regardless of income, available time, age and skills – can do something useful for others and, in the process, strengthen the fabric of our shared humanity…

– President Bill Clinton

If one word could describe most Americans in the 21st century, it might be harried – stressed at being rushed or having too much to do. In this condition, it seems impossible to free up bandwidth to be generous to ourselves or others. Here is some help from The Generosity Path: Finding the Richness in Giving:

Source: Flickr user: Seattle Municipal Archives

Source: Flickr user: Seattle Municipal Archives

“The most commonly mentioned obstacle to generosity is the same one that inhibits us from doing all kinds of things in our lives: the lack of free or flexible time. If we rule out opportunities for giving due to time constraints, our schedule becomes a broad obstruction to generosity. Generosity requires us to slow down and notice our surroundings; it takes attention and patience. It involves stepping out of our normal routines, noticing the needs of others, figuring out how to help, and then expending more resources to help. This applies whether we are holding the door for someone, giving someone directions, or making a thoughtful donation to a charitable organization. With the luxury of time to waste, these seem like insignificant acts. But if we are late for a meeting, giving someone a parking spot might make us even later. On top of this, we may not give ourselves enough time to fulfill our own needs. That may make it very difficult to give time to someone else.”

“Two basic approaches to generosity will help with the issue of limited time. The first is simple: Do what you can where you are, with the resources you have at hand. This does not require you to add to your to-do list, impinge on your schedule, or make a lot of preparation. It does oblige you to be mindful and notice things going on around you with an eye toward generosity, so you don’t miss opportunities. The second approach is to create a philanthropic plan in advance and implement it as you go along. This takes some time at the outset; after that, it should reduce the amount of time you spend.”

“…we can reach farther and be more generous than we imagine. It just takes courage.” – Mark Ewert

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