Radical generosity

I left 2016 with the desire to better understand generosity. Christmas presents can seem so much like exchanges: “They spent £x on me so I had better spend the same”; “I must buy … a present otherwise…”

Student income creates extra complications in the quest for generous living, as like many, I do not have an abundant bank balance to give away. I also have the joyous problem of having more friends to give to than money in the bank.

This results sometimes in the slightly awkward experience of being given gifts that I cannot return.

One of my best friends’ dad’s is a millionaire, so I have always felt that I can never buy her something that she would see as “valuable”.

However, the more that I have got to know her, the more that I have discovered that I can be generous in ways that she values more than a simple present. Visiting her every day whilst she was in hospital meant so much more to her than a card or a bouquet of flowers ever could.

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A famous relationship counsellor, Gary Chapman, has the theory that humans express love in five different ways: through quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation and gifts.[1] His theory is that as individuals, we resonate more with one of these “Love Languages” more than than others. I queried this with some friends. I was surprised to that they did each have a Love Language, and for many, receiving gifts meant very little. Following the conversation, I made the resolution to give more hugs and complements to the people that really appreciated them, and I would do the washing up for the friend who really felt loved by acts of service.

In 2017, I really want to be financially generous, so that I am practically bringing change in the areas that I am passionate about, as well as stopping myself from being financially self-centred. However, I am going to ask the friends around me which way they best receive affection, and try to be as generous to them as I can in that area.

For me, one of the amazing things about Christmas is the time to stop and realise how many wonderful people I have in my life, and then attempt to thank them for spending another year with me. I want to carry that desire into the new year, and see if I can hone it into words, actions and time; to really express how grateful I am to love and be loved by others.

[1] http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

 

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