A Generous Soul
Last week I wrote about practicing generosity, and I was delighted to hear from so many of you who announced that you are joining me on upping your game when it comes to this essential character trait. Several of you commented on a variety of ways you wanted to be more generous, such as giving to charity, volunteering, and caring for someone close to you who is in need. Many of you talked about having an overall desire to be more "generous in spirit."
The phrase "generous in spirit" reminds us that first and foremost generosity is both grounded in and is an expression of, our spiritual well-being. It is unusual to meet a generous person who does not have a great level of spiritual maturity, as generosity is rooted in the soul, not the ego. This is why we often hear a benevolent person described as being such a "generous soul."
Generosity is expansive while its opposites, selfishness and stinginess, are constricting. I watched some of President George H.W. Bush's funeral this week, and there was one particular line from one of the many touching eulogies that jumped out at me, as it made this same point. Bush's longtime friend former senator Alan Simpson said, "Hatred corrodes the container it is carried in," What is true of hatred, is also true of stinginess and selfishness.
We find an excellent example of this in a favorite story often told this time of year, The Christmas Carol. The story reminds us what stinginess does to the container it is carried in. Scrooge's stinginess has so corroded his soul, his container, that it requires three visitors from the world of spirits to provoke his spiritual transformation.
It's not just hatred or the extreme stinginess of Scrooge that corrodes one's soul. Holding on to grudges, resentments, criticism, anger, and self-righteousness for any length of time can also have the same effect. These negative habits are the opposite of what comes to mind when we think of being "generous in spirit."
The holiday season provides a unique opportunity for us to release grudges and criticism as we often come in closer than usual contact with family, friends, and neighbors. Thus, I can't think of a better time of year to enhance our generosity of spirit towards others.
When we are willing to let go of any "stinginess of spirit" we may have within us, we will find that not only are we giving a spiritual gift to others, but that we are also giving a gift to ourselves, as our souls inevitably become more expansive and generous as well.
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