How to Learn to Give More
As I was walking down Main Street in Somerset West I saw a beggar sitting beneath the Standard Bank sign, crutch tucked into his arm, a destitute dimness in his eyes. Edging nearer, I felt a tug on my heart and a sudden urge to give him whatever money I had. My heart battling my head, I considered opening my purse, but too soon it was too late, without even meeting his eye, I’d walked on by.
I’ve never forgotten that beggar and the lesson he taught me about my own un-generosity.
In South Africa we are faced with day-to-day opportunities to help those in need. But just like me, so many of us turn our eyes and walk on by. Even when something inside of us is telling us to stop, to spare some change, share a smile or lend a listening ear. Why is this?
My own experience got me thinking about our human nature and how we can learn to be more generous. Here’s three lessons I’ve learnt to encourage myself to give more.
1. See abundance not lack
Too often, in everything we do, think and say, we come from a place of “not enough”ness. We don’t have enough time for this, nor enough patience for that, and we certainly don’t have enough money for all of this. If we just change our mindsets and stop focusing on what we don’t have, instead, realising how much we do have, we’ll clearly see that we are a lot more abundant than we think. Living this way allows even more time, energy and money to flow towards us, filling us to the brim so others may reap from our own abundance.
A R10 note won’t make that much difference to you but it could make the world of difference to someone else.
And the feeling you get when you’ve truly helped someone and made their day, is well worth its weight in gold.
2. Listen to your heart instead of your head
That voice inside that tells you not to turn a blind eye – this is your heart speaking. And you should listen. Always. Our initial reaction may be to help someone, to give them whatever we have, until our head starts getting in the way. “What if he’s dangerous, I don’t want to get too close…” “What if I don’t have any small change and have to give him a fifty?” “What will other people in the street think when I stop to help a beggar?” These are all thoughts that went through my mind that day. My head got in the way and that initial spark of compassion was snuffed in a puff.
In being generous and in being a winner at life, following your heart is always the road to success.
If you want to help, allow yourself to help, if you want to give more than you think you are able to, just give and see what happens. Don’t worry what others will think of you and certainly don’t worry what your mind thinks of you. When we listen to our heart we align to our true spirit which is one of endless kindness and empathy.
3. What you give is what you get
Ours is a culture of competitiveness, of holding on to what we have and making a distinction between us and the “have nots”. We’ve turned the concept of winners and losers into sport and entertainment and judge school children’s worth by how many marks they can attain. I see this as a massive flaw in our human way. We need to break down these barriers and recognise that we are all equal and worthy, and that to give to another is to give to yourself.
Without getting too metaphysical here, we are in fact all one. The same energy, the same species, and by causing another to feel harm or lack is to bring the same feeling onto ourselves. I certainly experienced this that day in Main Road and it’s a feeling I’ve held on to ever since.
Rather than feel regret or shame, revel in the glory of giving and reap the benefits of sharing with another who is part of yourself.
I’ve made a pact with myself that when I see that beggar again I’ll give him whatever I have and give to him from the depths of a bottomless heart. What pact will you make with yourself?
Ready to give but not sure how to go about it? Check out all our incredible volunteering opportunities to get your giving spirit flowing.