I was planning to share this article from The Atlantic as part of this week’s Friday Five, but I’ve been musing on it today and felt like I wanted to discuss it in more depth. The main argument is that we are more likely to be generous with what we have if we believe it comes from luck, fortune, or divine intervention than if we believe we earned it entirely on our own.
“Recent research suggests that being prompted to recognize luck can encourage generosity.”
I feel this wholeheartedly. I acknowledge the inherent benefits I have from being born into middle class, suburban America. I have received an excellent education, am able to do work that I enjoy, and have no debt. Although I am passionate about my work, I know I didn’t earn all this on my own, but it’s been granted to me by the grace of God.
I’ve spent a lot of time pondering why I have been given what others have not. I’ve even felt quite guilty about it at some times. They key has been to realize that what I have been given is meant to be shared with others, whether that be my time, talent or treasure.
“Gratitude, in particular, is a currency we can spend freely without fear of bankruptcy.”
The place I witness the most gratitude and generosity is in Honduras. This is the second poorest country in our hemisphere (after Haiti) and most everyone has very little in the way of material possessions. However, when we bring candy or small gifts to the kids from their sponsors, they almost always immediately share with each other. A friend who’s refrigerator is near empty always make sure to bring food to his younger brother. The community is constantly looking out for one another. Although you could look around and see only scarcity, I see an abundance of gratitude and generosity.
I’ve honestly been working on a conclusion for this post for about an hour, but I think I can just leave it at that. Anyone have any additional thoughts to add about gratitude and generosity?