A Generosity Mindset

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Even though it’s been a few years since my kids were in school, our household still settles back into new routines this time of year. My wife and I sit down in September and fill out the calendar with our various commitments.  While this activity has the potential to feel overwhelming, I’ve found that taking the time to get our heads in the “back to school” mindset readies us for the year ahead.  That way, when new opportunities arise at work or in the community, we know at a glance what we have on the go and are ready to say ‘yes’ if it fits into our schedule.

In the same way, generosity is a mindset that helps our giving fall into place, but we need to take some time to prepare if we’re going to give when the opportunity arises.

A Huge Opportunity to Give

Early in my career, a gentleman named John contacted me for advice on the best thing to do with a large sum of money he was set to inherit. I suggested he start by considering all his options and talked him through a series of questions to help him narrow down his choices.

“Do you need the money for debts, retirement, other things?” I asked. “No,” he answered. “I have a good retirement plan and so does my wife. We don’t have any debts, so we won’t need the money for anything like that.” John also rejected the option of spending the money on a once-in-a-lifetime expense, like a vacation, new home, or a fancy car.

“What about giving it to your kids to help with school or their mortgage?” I pressed on.  “No,” he replied again. “We have RESPs for their education, and I want them to work for their money. Besides, I am not sure they could handle a big amount of funds.”

“Well, what about giving it to a charitable cause of some kind?” I suggested.  Suddenly, our amiable conversation stopped dead and John looked at me as if I had suddenly sprouted three heads. “Why on earth would I give it away?!” He asked. Taken aback by his response, I explained, “Because you have no other purpose for the funds. You just told me you don’t need it, you can’t spend it, you won’t spend it, and it is too much for your kids to handle. What else can you possibly do with it other than give it away?” He continued to look at me as if I was a crazy person.

Generosity Begins with Our Mind

Although John did not choose to give any of his inheritance to charity that day, he taught me a lot about generosity. I realized that without a generous mindset, an individual might not be ready to consider giving, even when confronted with a tremendous opportunity. We all have a finite amount of money and time and giving away what we have feels counterintuitive if generosity is a new idea.

However, a person who has cultivated a generosity mindset is focused on the things they have, not what they lack. As a result, they are much more likely to seize the opportunity to give generously.

Practicing a Generosity Mindset

Developing a generosity mindset takes practice. It starts in small ways. Smile at a stranger. Take a few extra minutes to help someone run errands. Collect your spare change to donate to a good cause. By making generosity part of your daily plans you get into the habit of giving (and tune your mind to focus on what you have) so that you can say ‘yes’ to giving big when you get the chance.

Are you ready to make developing a generosity mindset part of your post-summer routine?

By making generosity part of your daily plans you get into the habit of giving so that you can say ‘yes’ to giving big when you get the chance.

Contributed by Darren Pries-Klassen

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