“Don’t give to get. Give to inspire others to give”
I think December is a good month to think about what it means to be generous.
We like to contribute to improving people’s wellbeing … and on TV, through email, at work, through friends or even on the street we are asked to help others. Those who are near, or those who are far away and do not have everything that we enjoy without sometimes realising it.
Generosity in my opinion is also a way of expressing gratitude to life and the people around us or who we admire, because it helps us realize how much we receive every day. To, for a moment perhaps, see hope through the glass a little more full in the midst of our bewilderment generated by the disruptive and invasive technologies that many times separate us from the people we love instead of helping us get closer, or the negative news that scare us for the future, or the generalized distrust in the institutions that previously seemed to protect us. We can even feel a little joy thinking about how our act of generosity could affect the people who receive it. And maybe even a little serenity imagining that our drop of water could contribute to something bigger than us. Or even take pride in having run a marathon to benefit others.
Many times, due to ignorance we do not know how we can help and doing so allows us to show curiosity and connect with something that matters to us, such as the environment, school failure, research against cancer or AIDS, or animal welfare. . . All these gestures allow us to expose a piece of our heart in an environment where there is no danger because it is wrapped in a special, soft and colourful wrapping paper: donation. Of money, of time or imagination, of experience, of objects that can have a second life … When we are generous, we move from “I” to “we” and in some way we feel more connected to the world.
In my case, I have decided to help the United Way Foundation grow in Spain because it touches all the areas where help is needed, company by company, giving life to a corporate social responsibility and not relegating it to a mere compliance with the law. It is amazing what some NGOs in Spain do to help those who need it most.
In the end, being generous allows us to express all those powerful emotions (joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, inspiration, awe, love) about which science has proven what we all intuitively knew: they allow us to create that vital connection with others and improve our resilience to face the challenges that each day presents. It is as if we could, through generosity and the emotions that they produce, push the “restart” button and hope again, if only for a few minutes.
For me, deep down, thinking about what generosity means has led me to think about the person I want to be. As a mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, cousin, worker etc. And that’s always a good purpose for the holiday season!
Amélie de Marsily
United Way España. Head of Fundraising Committee.