What You Get From Giving: The Paradox of Generosity
Only the losers win; they’ve got nothin’ to lose.
The paradox of life is the more you give, the more you get. You find your life by losing it. You win by losing.
When you first begin living generously, it feels like everything is coming undone. It’s stretching and uncomfortable. But slowly, you begin to realize there’s more to life than what you own and can hold onto.
You begin to understand true abundance. You start living.
Radical generosity in my life
My first experience with this upside-down way of living was in college. I had some friends visiting from out of town and had $10 to my name.
They were driving cross-country, and I wanted to take care of them. But I was also concerned about blowing my last ten bucks. So I said a prayer, asking for provision, and bought the three of us coffee.
Everywhere I looked after that, people were offering me meals for free, giving me stuff, or anonymously leaving money in places where I would find it. It was bizarre and unbelievable.
This has now become a way of life for me. While I still struggle with holding on, I’m learning that the finer things in life cannot be purchased. They can only be discovered through generosity. (Click here to tweet that.)
Why don’t we give?
We’re scared. We’re lazy. We believe the Great Lie: Life is all about you. As a result, we often feel empty. Never satisfied. Always searching.
Henry David Thoreau said:
Most men lead lives of quiet desperation and go to the grave with the song still in them.
That unsung song is love: radical, reckless, giving love. The more you give your life away, the more you will find it.
What life is really about
You’ve been lied to. You were told that if you worked hard enough, that if you put enough hours in and got good enough grades that you’d be happy, that you’d get your reward. And then, you could start living.
But face it: something about this just feels wrong. Trust that feeling. There is a longing in your heart, an emptiness in your soul, waiting to be filled. This is not an accident. This exists to remind you that there’s something more.
It’s that nagging feeling that Morpheus put words to in The Matrix:
You’ve been living in a dream world…
We must wake up. We must sing the song of love. We must live it with intentionality and audacity. We must be generous. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t come naturally. But it’s how we were created to live. It’s the only way, I’m quite convinced, that we find the satisfaction we’re searching for.
Where do we start?
Begin small. Here are a few ideas:
- Make a donation to a nonprofit.
- Allow yourself to be interrupted.
- Get creative with your generosity if you’re on a limited budget.
- Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or shelter.
- Visit a nursing home or hospital and listen to people’s stories.
- Go on a mission trip.
- Focus on the giving, not the getting.
So what are you waiting for? I dare you to be generous. Then — and only then — may you find these words from Albert Einstein to be true:
The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.
What do you get from giving? What fruit have you seen from living generously? Share in the comments.