How to Be Generous

Two Parts:Getting in the Right MindsetDoing Acts of Kindness

Being generous begins with treating each person as though they have already achieved the potential for greatness that is in every one of us. Giving something willingly and happily without expecting anything in return is generosity, whether you're donating money to an organization you believe in or you're giving time to a friend in need. In essence, generosity is the sincere desire to make others' lives easier and more pleasant. So how do you cultivate generosity? See Step 1 to get started.

Part 1
Getting in the Right Mindset

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    Give from the heart. If you truly want to be generous, then you have to give just because you want to give, not because you have ulterior motives and want something in return. You should give simply because you want to give, because you've found something you believe in, and because you want to do good in the world. If you're only giving to impress other people or to ingratiate yourself with someone in some way, then you're not really being generous.
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    Know that being generous will make you happier. Though you shouldn't be generous for the sake of furthering your own needs, you should know that people who are generous are known to be happier than those who are not: Being generous helps people feel more compassionate towards others, gives a stronger sense of community, and to establishes a higher self-image. While you are being generous towards others, you can also be generous toward yourself as well.[1]
    • If you're happier, then you'll have more of a positive outlook and more energy to do good in the world. The positive cycle will continue.
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    Notice what would make someone's life easier. Whether you're interacting with your neighbors or your best friend, take a look at the person you're talking to and see how you'll be able to help that person out. Maybe your coworker is really stressed and needs someone to look after her dog while she's visiting her sick mother in a different town. Maybe your best friend's car broke down and she needs a ride to school. Maybe your mother is overworked and doesn't even realize how much help she needs until you give it. When you talk to someone, start wondering about how you could help them instead of always thinking about how they can help you.
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    Be grateful for what you have. Being grateful can inspire generosity because it will make you aware of all of the great things you have in your life. Every Sunday, sit down and make a list of at least five things you're grateful for, and take the time to appreciate those things. Think of all the good things people have done for you and never forget to thank them, even if it was for something they did months earlier. Being more grateful will put you in the mindset to be a more generous person.
    • If you are able to appreciate all that you have, you'll be more likely to share some of those great things with others, to help them appreciate life as well.
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    Don't forget to be generous to yourself. Though volunteering, caring for others, and giving your time is a great way to be generous, you shouldn't forget about yourself completely in the process. Don't forget to listen to yourself and to recognize what you want and need, whether it's a nice meal out or a warm bubble bath. If you neglect yourself completely for the sake of others, you're likely to get burned out and to not have as much to give.
    • It's not selfish to look for your own needs and to make yourself happy. It is selfish to only care about yourself and no one else, but there is a difference.

Part 2
Doing Acts of Kindness

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    Celebrate somebody. The next time your friend has a birthday coming up, make a big deal of it. Get a big old cake, invite some people over, and throw a party, making the person feel loved and special. Even people who claim to hate birthdays love to be spoiled and celebrated, and you should make an effort to make the people closest to you feel special. You can find any excuse to celebrate someone, from a birthday to a promotion, or just because.
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    Be kind to strangers. Even if it just means saying hi to someone you've never met before, giving someone a compliment in line at the grocery store, or holding a door open for someone who is carrying groceries, taking the time to be kind to people you don't know is very generous and easy to do. And if you're in a rush, then taking the time to be nice to strangers is even more generous.
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    Give your time to a friend. If your friend is down and needs some company, then you should be generous with your time and should hang out with that person. Make room in your schedule to spend time with that person, whether you're taking a walk, going to the movies, or having a long talk over a cup of tea. No matter how busy you are, there should always be room in your life for hanging out with friends.
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    Give to a cause you believe in. You don't have to make a fortune to donate money to a reputable charity. Even if you're only giving ten dollars a month, you'll be doing good in the world and will feel good about yourself. You should give this amount right when you get your paycheck, instead of at the end of the month, when you see how much money you have left. You'll be surprised by how little you'll miss this money. Even putting some loose change in a tip jar can be a generous act.
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    Volunteer. Volunteering your time is a great way to be generous. If you want to be generous, then spend at least an hour or two a week volunteering at a soup kitchen, tutoring adults or children, cleaning up a community park, or doing some other good out there in the world. You can do different tasks, such as volunteering in a bookstore, or helping at a fundraising campaign for charity. Find something that gives you meaning while expanding your generosity.
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    Share your things. If you're with friends, share your food, your clothes, your car, your home, or any of the things that mean something to you. If you're just sharing something you don't care about, then it's not as meaningful. If you have just two delicious chocolates left and give one to a friend, that means more than giving your friend one of a hundred candy bars you don't care about.
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    Give away something you love. Give your favorite sweater to your little sister. Give your favorite novel to a friend. Give a beautiful notebook to a friend and encourage her to start writing poetry. Giving away something you don't care about isn't really generous because you're not making a sacrifice. But giving away something that means something to you, which you know will do good for others, is the height of generosity.
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    Compliment someone. Be generous with your kind words and make a goal of giving at least five compliments in a week -- or even in a day! When you talk to someone, look for a way to give a meaningful compliment, or even to say something as simple as, "I love your necklace" or "Those are such cool glasses." Even the smallest compliment, if it's sincere, can make a difference in a person's day.
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    Send "thank you" cards. Instead of just sending a "thank you" email or even a text, take the time to send a card to someone who has really made a difference in your life. This will show the person how much you care and that you've made an effort to let him or her know how much his or her help has meant to you. Sending thank you cards will put you in a more giving and generous mindset.
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    Call a friend who's having a hard time. If you can't be there in person, give your friend a call to check in, to say hi, and to show that you care. If you can just spare a few minutes to show that person that you're thinking of him or her and to be kind and sincere, then you'll be making that person's day better, even if he or she is still struggling. Spending time trying to cheer up a person who is in need over the phone is very generous.
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    Give up your seat. Sure, you've had a long day at work, but that older person standing above you may be even more tired than you are. And the person doesn't even have to be older -- you can just sit up and give your seat to someone else because you don't really need it and because it will feel good.
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    Give a generous tip. If you've had outstanding service, or if you've just been in contact with someone who needed some cheering up, then give a generous tip when the time comes to pay the bill. Write a thank you note at the bottom of the check, letting the person know how much he or she has improved your day.
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    Leave positive comments for someone online. Whether you're on a stranger's blog or on your friend's Facebook or Instagram account, leaving a positive, approving comment can make the person feel better and will show that you care. Plus, it will be very generous of you!
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    Hold the door for someone. No matter how busy, late, or tired you may be, you should never be too tired to hold the door for someone, or to take a moment out of your day just to be polite and kind to a person near you. This simple act will make you and the person feel better, and you'll see that there's always time to slow down and help out.
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    Donate your stuff. Don't just let those old sweaters or clothes sit in your closet for years. Take the time to sort through them and to donate them to charity so that someone else can find a good use for them. It won't take long to sort through them or to drive them down to where they need to go, and you'll feel good just thinking about someone else finding a better use for your clothes.
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    Make someone smile. If you see someone who needs cheering up, whether it's a stranger or one of your relatives, take a moment to make that person smile, whether you tell a silly joke, smile at them, or do a sweet favor for that person. Making someone smile can have a big impact on their day, and you'll be generous for trying to make someone happier.


  • Generosity can also be forgiving a person's shortcomings or mistakes.
  • Don't push yourself on being generous; just try to summon it as instinct tells you to.


  • Try to avoid being generous on cash, as it can cause some issues between you and others. If someone you know really well asks for it, consider the following: Are they going to pay it back? What will the money be used for? If you like the answers, then go on, but remember, don't give out your entire bank account, and try to find something in the deal for you - a return on your investment if you like.

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