I have been reading a chapter or two or three a week of The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World with his holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Douglas Abrams, which was given to me earlier this year as a birthday gift by a dear friend. I love what they say on pages 274 and 275 about a generous spirit and generosity, which I’ve excerpt below:
“When we have a generous spirit, we are easy to be with and fun to be with. We radiate happiness, and our very company can bring joy to others. This no doubt goes hand in hand with the ability…to be less self-centered, less self-regarding, and more self-forgetful. Then we are less burdened by our self agenda: We do not have anything to prove. We do not need to be seen in a particular way. We can have less pretension and more openness, more honesty. This naturally brings ease to those around us, too; as we have accepted ourselves, our vulnerabilities, and our humanity, we can accept the humanity of others. We can have compassion for our faults and have compassion for those of others. We can be generous and give out joy to others.”
“In generosity, there is a wider perspective, in which we see our connection to all others. There is a humility that recognizes our place in the world and acknowledges that at another time we could be the one in need, whether that need is material, emotional, or spiritual. There is a sense of humor and an ability to laugh at ourselves so that we do not take ourselves so seriously. There is an acceptance of lie, in which we do not force life to be other than what it is. There is a forgiveness of others and a release of what might otherwise have been. There is a gratitude for all that we have been given. Finally, we see others with a deep compassion and a desire to help those who are in need. And from this comes a generosity that is ‘wise-selfish’, a generosity that recognizes helping others as helping ourselves.”
I want to be a generous spirit, to be what the Archbishop describes as “becoming an oasis of peace, a pool of serenity that ripples out to all of those around us.”. And, I want to contribute to creating a more generous world. Where I am now, I see opportunity for growth in expanding my self-compassion and enhancing my ability to laugh at myself.
* I took this photo in Istanbul Turkey in 2010. I picked a photo from this lovely country because in my experience there, I felt a the people’s generosity of spirit, kindness and hospitality very strongly. I especially liked photo because it captures the simple joy that kids spread.