Generosity is one of the 5 elements of working out loud. Due to the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary Generosity is “…a willingness to give help or support, esp.[…especially…] more than is usual or expected…”. In his article The Generosity Test John Stepper seems to push it even a step further when he writes, that “…the key to real Generosity is to be detached from the outcomes…”.
Later in the same article John Stepper cites Reid Hofmann from the book “The Startup of You”:
“It seems counterintuitive, but the more altruistic your attitude, the more benefits you will gain from the relationship. If you insist on a quid pro quo every time you help others, you will have a much narrower network and a more limited set of opportunities. Conversely, if you set out to help others…simply because you think it’s the right thing to do, you will rapidly reinforce your own reputation and expand your universe of possibilities.”
The Zen Point of Generosity
While developing the habit of Generosity one may come to a very critical point. After a while one might think “I try to practice Generosity, but it seems I am always the one giving and I do not receive something in return. Some people only take but they never give. What should I do?”.
This is the Zen point of Generosity. Should you think about it? Should you discuss this with other people? No! – Don’t – do – this! It would lead into the wrong direction. Making this a topic will not detach you from the outcome of your Generosity but instead it will strengthen your attachment to the outcome. It is counterproductive! And here is the reason why.
Don’t think of an Elephant!
According to the book “Don’t Think of an Elephant!” by George Lakoff “Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world…even when you negate a frame, you activate the frame. If I tell you, “Don’t think of an elephant!,” you’ll think of an elephant.”
To say it again, even when someone wants to not think about something he activates the mental structure in his brain which represents this “something”. And this will strengthen the respective mental structure. So even when you think to not think about “what do I get in return” you are activating the quid pro quo mental structure and strengthen exactly the counter concept of Generosity.
The personal point of Mindfulness – Don’t think of Generosity
The result of all this is your personal point of Mindfulness. Make Generosity your personal habit – and don’t think about it! Promised?
(I would be happy to receive your comments. Please be aware that comments will not appear immediately but will be checked before they appear, to ensure compliance with policies)