Why and How to Be More Generous

boy and girl fighting over basketball
Children are encouraged to share

“MINE!” Every parent freezes when hearing their child scream that word for the first time. When clutching a favorite toy or a piece of candy, the child makes it clear that the object will not be given up. Parents usually scold their children for having such a reaction. They respond with something like, “That’s not nice. You need to share!”

As that child grows, the parents continue to encourage the child to share. When a friend is visiting, the parents may encourage the child to share toys. If the child is snacking on animal crackers, they’re encouraged to give a bite to mommy or daddy. Parents gush over a gifted flower that was picked from the yard.

Why do parents teach their children to share? Why aren’t children encouraged to take and take and eventually amass a limitless supply of candy bars, baseballs, and Barbie dolls? Because most adults understand the importance of being generous. Giving freely to others provides benefits that outweigh the costs.

Most adults would probably like to think of themselves as generous. Surely, they wouldn’t want to be labeled as selfish. Being compassionate and kind are closely linked to generosity, and most people would like to have these adjectives used when being described. But it’s not just about labels.


Biology encourages generosity

On a biological level, generous acts can trigger the reward center of the brain. When one gives of himself on behalf of others, the brain releases dopamine and oxytocin. The release of these chemicals contributes to a sense of euphoria and inner peace.

Being generous can also result in more successful relationships. No one has ever said of another person, “I like him, but he’s just too generous. He’s always giving more than he takes, and I hate it.” Generosity is always appreciated in both platonic and romantic relationships.

When a person experiences events like sickness, crime (how ungenerous), or unemployment, helping others can safeguard from stress. The person stops focusing on their own problems and instead focuses on the needs of others. Any temporary reprieve from concentrating on one’s own losses is a step toward moving on.

In the end, generosity has the capacity to make a person happier. With biology on their side and a closer bond with friends and family, generous people can experience true, inner satisfaction. When someone suffers a loss, being generous and giving freely of what they have left can buoy their spirits.


I assume you’re now thinking, “I’m sold. How can I make myself more generous?” To grow in generosity, you need to have the right mindset. Sometimes the qualities of a generous person come naturally, and sometimes they don’t. People who are generous often share the following characteristics.

Be Optimistic

Generous people are idealists. They have a view of the way the world should be and strive to see it realized. Generous people never stop giving their time, energy, or resources. They truly believe that the world can become a better place. They know that they can make a difference. Even if they alone can’t change the whole world, they change their own world or another person’s world.

happy man listening to headphones
Generous people are optimistic

Be Selfless

Being generous requires wanting nothing back from others. This moves a generous person to give to those who have very little or practically nothing. It also moves them to go without in order to give to others. They trust that what they give will be used properly by the receivers.

Be Energetic

The generous devote their energy to doing good. Then they feed off of energy from their cause. When generous people spend time working on a goal, they are rejuvenated and go on to do even more good.

Be a Leader

Generous people are not afraid to stand up and lead for their cause. There are often critics who tell them that their efforts are in vein. Others may attack their motives or the motives of others involved. But a generous person doesn’t care. They aren’t naive, but they also aren’t cynical and don’t question motives. They encourage others to do good.

man talking
Generous people aren’t afraid to lead


There are some further ideals to adopt and actions to take in order to cultivate generosity. You will need to be appreciative. A generous person is thankful for what they have. The joy they find in what they are provided makes them want to share with others. They also allow others to be appreciative. They don’t discount the effort they put forth, and they don’t dismiss another person’s gratitude.

lady handing flowers
Generous people are content with less

A generous person believes that there is no limit to success. But they are content living with less. Their simple lives satisfy them. They expect nothing, but somehow they often enjoy success from their generosity.

Generous people don’t make it all about themselves. A generous person hopes for everyone else to be generous too. They associate with other generous people and are not threatened by them. There is no competition. Generous people also accept generosity.

Generous people set themselves up for generosity. They give in ways they think are important and find causes they believe in. But they also support others in causes that are important to them. 


Generosity can be extravagant, but it can also be a very humble gift. When considering ways to be generous, think of how you can give from these six categories: your time, strength, possessions, knowledge, talent, and praise. Here are some practical ways you can show generosity.

  • Buy a coffee for someone (a co-worker, a person behind you in line).
  • Let someone go ahead of you in line for no reason.
  • Open a door for someone.
  • Refer someone to another person for help.
  • Find a team or charity that needs help. Join them.
  • Use https://smile.amazon.com.
  • Simply give someone $1, or better yet, a $2 bill.
  • Identify a person who needs help. Offer that help.
  • Give someone a genuine compliment.
  • Donate something.
  • Write a nice comment on social media.
  • Provide encouragement to a young person.
  • Double a well-deserved tip.
  • Buy someone’s meal at a restaurant (a friend, a stranger).
  • Create an out-of-office message that provides value or offers a gift.
  • Leave a positive review on a Google business listing.
  • Give your change away (the whole jar or what’s in your pocket).
  • Share public praise about someone with a group.
  • Reconnect with an old acquaintance and offer assistance of some kind.

A life of generosity leads to greater happiness and satisfaction. Respect and admiration result when others observe your generosity. But the best part about being truly generous is that those things won’t matter to you. You’ll be giving freely because you want to help others and because you want to make the world a better place. What you get far outweighs what you give.

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