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Feeling Generous? How to Improve This All-Important Recovery Trait

Posted on May 13, 2011 in Recovery

"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need."

"Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more then I do." – Both quotes by Khalil Gibran, Lebanese poet, writer, philosopher (1883-1931)

When we think of generosity, our thoughts usually center on the receipt of largesse, not the giving of ourselves. Yet in recovery, being generous of our time, effort and spirit is exactly what we most need to do. Why? Generosity is important to recovery because by giving to others more than looking to receive something ourselves we are moving beyond self-centeredness into the all-important area of growth that derives from caring for others.

It does take some doing to improve our ability to be generous toward others, however. Many of us are ill-equipped at first to do anything more than sustain our own sobriety – and that is hard enough. Over time, and given practice, each of us can do a little more in the way of opening ourselves up to doing more for others. A few kind words here, an extension of our help there, and we’re well on our way to building up our capacity to be generous.

When we see a newcomer to recovery struggling with doubts and confusion, offering our support and understanding – even while we need the same for ourselves – is being generous of spirit. It also helps us heal to be of service to others. In fact, there are countless ways to demonstrate our generosity. All it really takes is a willingness to want to do something good for others that takes us outside of ourselves. Start with a smile and a welcoming handshake. Everything else can flow from this beginning.

What if we start to feel as if we’re giving more than we should? If this thought occurs to us, perhaps we’re not being truly generous. Examine our motives for doing whatever it is that we’ve done. Are we looking for recognition and praise or are we really trying to help another? If, at the heart of it, we’re just looking to get something out of it, we’re not really being generous at all. In fact, the opposite is true.

The best way to improve on our own capacity for generosity is simply to begin to be generous. After some practice, it won’t seem that difficult at all. On the contrary, it will start to feel normal.  

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