The Calculated Generosity of Giving
“Calculated generosity” – the words sunk to the bottom of my heart like two heavy weights. Sometimes the truth is too hard to handle so we ignore it in hopes it will go away. But in two stinging words my mother had called it – the people I’d let into my life, the ones I considered my closest friends in this foreign country, were only with me for what they could get from me.
To me, “calculated generosity” succinctly sums up the current condition of giving in our world.
All too often, we’re not giving from the depths of a generous heart, rather, we’re giving from the murky shallows of our own egotistical agendas.
I apologise if this all sounds quite dramatic, but let me explain.
In yesteryear, humans lived in tribes where survival was a combined effort. Everyone from the fastest hunter to the slowest gatherer were equally integral to the lifeline of the whole. When tribes began encountering each other, gift economies and bartering sprung up, suddenly a string of seashells was given worth for what it could gain in exchange. As humans, we started to calculate and measure the value of our exchanges with each other. Bartering then gave way to buying and selling, with the advent of money.
Now, I can’t deny that money has brought a sense of order and regulation to our world, but what it has also brought is a precise, and oftentimes unfair, means of measuring human relationships and worth. I am reminded of this each time a young child passes me in the streets of Sri Lanka, big toothy grins and excited hellos all too soon give way to cries of “money, money, money?” Whether consciously or not, we often enter relationships and friendships based on our assumed return on investment. From arranged marriages to Tinder dates, we want to know beforehand what’s in it for us. Choose a doctor over a delivery guy? Any day.
Rather than follow the flow of Nature – reaping what we sow and receiving back what we have given, many of us have flung ourselves onto the unnatural frequency of giving only to assert our own agendas. As a person who prides (and yes sometime pities) herself for always seeing the best in people, the words “calculated generosity” revealed the ugly truth of who my “friends” really were – chancers choosing to see me as a dollar sign rather than an actual friend. But this unquenchable pursuit of material wealth was bringing them only broken bonds and sleepless nights.
So I’ve made a pact with myself to plug this drain of “calculated generosity” in my life. I’m human, just like the rest of us and admit to having played this part many times before. But from now on, when I give, I will do so from a fully and bountiful heart, and my only sinful pleasure will be the sheer joy from having simply given.
When you give with real generosity and gratitude, you open yourself up to the frequency of receiving abundance.
The real irony being, when you give without expecting anything in return, is exactly how you receive all of life’s greatest treasures.
What is your opinion on human generosity? Share your comments below, we’d love to hear them!