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T.E.A.M. Tuesday Articles 

The Value of Generosity

By Justin Simmons - Jul 11, 2023

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When hearing the word generosity, we commonly associate its meaning with ideas of gifts or donations. Although relevant terms, generosity stems from a much deeper and more persuasive evolution. Cultural and/or societal differences may skew an individual’s definition of the word as well. One person’s generous participation may be another’s standard practice as we contribute to one another socially. Meaningful actions, sharing necessary goods, and gestures of consideration are all variations of generous contributions we may offer. Generous acts can be monetary, but this is secondary to that of which we give of ourselves (i.e.: time, emotion, energy, attention, etc.). As we begin to quantify the value of generosity, we need to better understand the fundamental question behind this voluntary gesture: what prompts us to give?

Survival instinctively tells us to fend for ourselves, so it would appear counterintuitive to suddenly provide generous offerings in an effort to help others. Unless, of course, there was something in it for us (this is not to indicate that we have selfish ulterior motives, but rather it refers to a primitive vantage point we observe throughout history until a shift in thinking occurs). When considering what separates us from a selfish animalistic nature, we can cite our ability to plan and apply reason. Long before an established economy was in practice, sharing was developed as a social contract.

Working is less a way of life, as it is a way of sustainability. Some view work and sacrifice as one in the same. Both terms effectively implement delayed pleasure or gratification. Naturally, we can gain satisfaction from working (even enjoy it), but the typical demands and strains of a job would not be characterized as enjoyment. Hard work (or sacrifice) originates through a thought process that justifies such efforts toward a more important goal. For example, working overtime on a weekend doesn’t provide instant gratification, but it will lead to more earnings and the possibility of greater satisfaction in the future.

Sacrifices come in many shapes and sizes. There is much debate on size and scale when deciphering the best-case scenario for which to choose. Larger sacrifices might appear more challenging but allow you to accept the terms early on and possibly establish a more clearly defined value in doing so. Smaller sacrifices may appear more manageable but over time could amount to an unforeseen burden, while producing less benefit. Perhaps in weighing any of these options, the decision will be made to make no form of sacrifice and instead maintain the status quo. In any case, the most important piece to recognize is that the choice is ours to make. Our ability to rationalize our thinking to a point of foresight shows us we’re capable of more. Planning for the future is what will prompt us to explore new strategies and determine where to apply our greatest efforts.

Comprehension of our purposeful reasoning allows us to return to the social contract of sharing. History shows how this construct evolved. Work (often hunting and gathering) and sacrifice (going hungry or without the support of the community) for individual gain began to draw thought-provoking conclusions. Large gains often presented complications such as saving or protecting the bountiful earnings. Inconsistent patterns based on individual performance posed several problems as well. Our primitive self-observed long durations yielding little reward, followed by short periods of abundance. The rational brain deduced that these periods could be more easily managed through the contributions of others. Suddenly sharing transitioned from a simple act of kindness to a communal strategy. The adage 'feed a man a fish vs. teach a man to fish' holds truth for an individual. However, in a community, the tactic evolves to teach many men to fish. Empowering the group as a whole allows for a share of responsibility to hunt, gather and even stock up for future use now knowing members are working together. 

As society grew and we learned to coexist through planning, the ebbs and flows of power became predicated on human reasoning and the exploitation of unsuspecting consumers. Most religious groups spend the majority of their teachings on combating this harsh flaw in human nature. We will exclude for now (leaving for another discussion) the science of chemical imbalances in the brain, which lead to why some individuals are capable of dark manipulation. For our purposes today, we will focus on the positive results of sacrifice and sharing, while applying to modern acts of generosity.

Luckily most of us are taught early as children that 'sharing is caring'. This statement represents the good outweighing the evil in our general population. It also provides historic validation to the sustainability which sharing has established over centuries of successful communities. Today we carry on this sentiment almost unknowingly, which is a testament to the culture we have developed and exist within.

Generosity is not strictly measured monetarily; it's measured by personal character and a willingness to put forth efforts for good. Those who see the value in supporting others will be seen for their personal value and recognized accordingly. For example, welcoming a newcomer to the neighborhood is a common gesture of kindness. Without any intention of personal gain, the organic rapport built at that moment will lend itself to a stronger relationship in the future, especially if ever in need of assistance. This strength built within communities and between individuals, friends, and families, is the fiber that reinforces our bonds. No one prompts us to be generous, we’re compelled by learned habits and cognitive planning for a better future.

When you go to bed tonight, I'm hopeful you'll be able to reflect on having positively impacted at least one person today (include yourself in this number)The value of generosity is determined by the impact had on others and the emotional response felt by all. Our determination to work hard and establish a future depends on the success of those around us. Take a moment to think about who may need your consideration today. Are you ready to discover the power of your mindset? 

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