Generosity Begins with You

By Patti Ward, M.Ed.

December can easily be seen as a month of great generosity. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition for “generosity” is: the quality of being kind and generous. The meaning of “generous” is to show a readiness to give more of something, as money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected.

What’s your definition of generosity?

There is actually a “Science of Generosity Initiative” at the University of Notre Dame. In their research, a number of studies have demonstrated a relationship between generosity, happiness, and well-being. They also discovered a seeming paradox; freely giving of oneself makes us ultimately richer than hanging on tightly to what we perceive as ours.

In addition, we are fortunate to be a nation of many cultures. In December, we have many events to spread generosity:

  • Saint Nicholas Day (Christian)
  • Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican)
  • St. Lucia Day (Swedish)
  • Hanukkah (Jewish)
  • Christmas Day (Christian)
  • Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Christian)
  • Boxing Day (Australian, Canadian, English, Irish)
  • Kwanzaa (African American)
  • Omisoka (Japanese)
  • Yule (Pagan)

Some people speak of generosity in terms of having an attitude of abundance, versus a mind of scarcity, and also sharing a non-attachment to the outcome.

Do you ever consider being generous toward yourself?

During this month of “giving,” why would I suggest that we start by giving to ourselves first? For the same reason we start practicing mindfulness with ourselves first. Cheryl Blackington and I began our first Mindful Schools Teacher Training cohort in October. It begins with teachers learning/acquiring a mindfulness practice; during the second stage, teachers learn/practice the Mindful Schools curriculum; the third stage supports a “community of practice” (groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly).

Teachers may want to be given the curriculum and just start teaching the well-designed lessons, but what we have learned is that we need to have our well filled before we can pour any water from it. Our personal mindfulness practice creates the container from which the teaching may develop.

During this hectic, pressure-filled month, I hope you will find a few minutes during your day to fill your well. Perhaps beginning with self-acceptance for your limitations of time and money, that everything might not get done just as you had hoped, that everyone might not get the “perfect” gift or say just the right things; that all your family members might not be there this year. Be generous and kind to yourself first. Practice self-love; it will prime the pump, and you just might be surprised at how generous and loving you will be within this shatteringly beautiful world we live in!


Patricia Ward, M.Ed,
Mindful School Certified Instructor
Patti has been teaching the Mindful Schools Curriculum since the spring of 2013. She has taught mindfulness in Preschool – 12th grades in both private and public school settings. She is currently facilitating teacher training utilizing the Mindful Schools curriculum.

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