It is too daunting for me to think about something as grand as ‘generosity’, so instead I think, ‘What can I actually do?’
To open up our full generosity to others, we need to find a balance so that we don’t become too drained; that our needs are also met. And as Anthony has, you may find that you gain energy and motivation from charitable giving or from volunteering. Anthony learned this complex balancing through various experiences that he says is, “A wonderful place I never envisioned before.” Here is a bit about his path (from The Generosity Path: Finding the Richness in Giving) with Anthony’s story.
“Coming from a Catholic Italian family of modest means, Anthony does not remember ever discussing being charitable or generous. It was more “routine” that his parents made financial contributions to their church, even in hard times. But his mother gave freely of her time and attention, and their home was a destination for people in their community who needed support and a sympathetic ear. Although the family had few resources themselves, they lived by a sort of code where it was always necessary to have extra food to feed guests. If somebody had a need, you would have to have a really good reason not to fill it. Anthony realized as he got older what a huge commitment his family made to be that open and available.
The stories that Anthony told about his life all seemed to come back to this same theme; finding a balance between caring for others and being cared for, even by himself. He told stories about his first adult romantic relationships and the struggle to learn how to accept financial support. From his longtime volunteering in hospice programs, he told of a woman whose stubborn clinging to independence made it almost impossible to care for her. He told of caring for a young man who was incoherent due to having AIDS, and how he would have moments of lucidity that made Anthony feel like he was being blessed by the patient as a holy man might.”
How do you navigate caring for yourself and your family with supporting others – financially, with your time, intelligence, or other resources? And how do you factor in the inspiration and energy you gain from being generous? The answers to these questions may be the key that unlocks the door to rich and sustainable generosity.