The Most Powerful And Unorthodox Ways To Be Generous

When you hear the words “be generous”, what comes to mind for you?

GENEROUS is a wonderful word that has the capacity for incredible breadth. But when we think of generosity, sometimes we fall into a trap that amplifies only one way of giving: money.

But recently I have begun to understand this word in a more ‘richer’, broader way. In the past I would generally use the word for the actions of somebody who gave in a material way. Such giving is wonderful and should not be minimized or undervalued in any way. There are so many people, from all walks of life, who are generous in wealth. Incredible people who consistently demonstrate their deep pockets. We value their actions and recognize that the world would be a better place if more people shared in this generous way.

But to see generosity as only financial, however, would deprive us of so many gems that this virtue has to offer. 

The Most Powerful And Unorthodox Ways To Be Generous

Here are just a few other things you can be generous with:

  • Time
  • Interpretation
  • Attention
  • Gratitude

There are many more. But let’s stay with the above for a little while and go deeper.


Time is something is finite. There is only so much time and each of us, regardless of status or wealth, possess the same amount of time in each day. Some people have at their means, great capacity to give financially. The gift they give might be most appreciated, but the impact of the gift on the other could be low. But when they give their time – now that’s something they cannot get back. When a leader walks the floor and talks to her people, she is being incredibly generous. And guess what, her people know this too. When you give me your time to help solve my challenge, or to be interested in me, now that’s sacrifice. You can’t give everyone your time, and you should choose wisely. But find the space and place to give this commodity and then watch its transformative nature.


We are in a constant state of interpreting events. A father scolds his child harshly and I say to myself, ‘What a jerk. He needs anger management.’ As a result, I look down on him and his apparent weakness. A generous interpretation asks, ‘what else should I notice or consider?’ The generous interpretation might therefore conclude that this man is having a rough day and needs some support. The generous interpretation is not the acceptance of that which is wrong. And where there are patterns, these might need to be dealt with firmly. But generous interpretations consider the fact that we don’t know everything. That there are gaps in our knowleadge and that I therefore choose to fill these gaps with as much generosity as possible. Have you ever felt or wished that someone had been a bit more generous with their interpretation of you? I’m sure you have.


Some people are generous with their attention. When you are talking to them, you have all of them. We’ve all experienced the divided attention of another. You’re having lunch with someone pouring out your soul and they look at their buzzing phone. We live in a world of attention deficit. But people notice when we are generous with our attention. This is beautifully summed up by this quote from Nancy Kline, “People shine not in the glow of your charisma. They shine in the light of your attention for them. They shine because you remind them that they matter.”


There is so much that is wrong and troubled in our world. And there is so much that is right and wonderful. There is something so amazing about being with a person who is generous in gratitude. This person chooses to savour blessing, experience, friendship, and many a small thing. And when they do, it’s contagious.  They give the rest of us a gift. A gift that reminds us to observe, notice and be thankful.

The Most Powerful And Unorthodox Ways To Be Generous

Generous. What a beautiful word. How are you being generous today?

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