It was Charles Spurgeon who said, “giving is true loving”. Throughout the year, we as a society are inundated with ads all about buying “stuff”, gift giving, and finding “the perfect present”. Whether a holiday, birthday, or anniversary, giving isn’t just something that should be reserved for special occasions; true generosity is something that we should practice 365 days a year.
Did you know that people who are generous and who give freely are actually happier? According to a 2006 study by the National Institutes of Health, people who give activate the brain regions related to pleasure, reward, and trust. If you’re looking to get in touch with your generous side, here are five characteristics of generous people and thoughtful givers:
- Generous people would rather give than receive. To some, this is a foreign concept, but it’s so true! Those of a generous spirit are more comfortable – and actually get more pleasure – giving than they do being on the receiving end of a gift or compliment. It may not come naturally, but the more you get in the practice of giving, the more you’ll understand how good it truly feels.
- Generous people plan ahead. Translation: Don’t procrastinate! Planning ahead is a marked characteristic of the thoughtful giver. They don’t leave things until the last minute, running out to the store on Christmas Eve or the night before a birthday. Instead, they’ve got others in mind the whole year through, keeping an eye open for items that will be of interest or suitable for the recipient’s personality or needs.
- Generous people care about personal connections. Generous people know the importance of building lasting relationships and finding common ground with others. Look at the friends who’ve been in your life the longest. Chances are, they’re some of the most selfless, caring, generous people in your world. There’s a reason for that.
- Generous people count their blessings. All of the generous people I know have at least one character trait in common: An attitude of gratitude. Recognizing all of the blessings in your own life can encourage you to be a blessing to others, as well. When you have a spirit of gratitude, it’s only natural to want to give thanks, and to share that gratitude with others.
- Generous people give more than just material gifts. Every person is put on this Earth for a purpose, and generous people recognize and appreciate the value in others. Generous people give more than just material “things”; they encourage, promote, and reassure others.
True generosity has nothing to do with how much money you have, how much you volunteer, or how much you give – true generosity has everything to do with what’s in your heart. Mother Teresa said it well: “It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
 Moll, Jorge, et all. (Sept 7, 2006). Human fronto-mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 103 (no. 42). Retrieved from http://www.pnas.org/content/103/42/15623.full