You Might Be Thinking About Generosity All Wrong

Instead of one big, grand gesture, practice being generous consistently.

Natalie Ruiz

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Image by Lina Trochez

“Being generous often consists of simply extending a hand. That’s hard to do if you are grasping tightly to your righteousness, your belief system, your superiority, your assumptions about others, your definition of normal.” — Patti Digh

Generosity is one of my personal core values.

When I say that out loud, I have heard statements like, “So, you give a lot, but you have a lot.” Or, “it is easy to be generous NOW,” which is referring to my place in life and career. What is completely missed in the assumptions that are being made is that being generous is in no way a new habit. It isn’t. There’s also an assumption that when I talk about generosity, I am talking about money — I’m not.

If you think it is easy to be generous once you are living life in abundance, try flipping that thought on its head — being generous helps one to live in abundance. It is through giving that we have more, at least that I what I am hoping to convey here.

Many years ago, I stopped at a gas station to fuel up my car. I asked for ten dollars worth of gas. When I went inside to pay, my card was declined. At the time, I didn’t have a credit card, and I didn’t have any cash. I didn’t know what to do. To make matters worse, the clerk was rude and told me that if I couldn’t pay, they would call the police. I was humiliated, and I was scared. From behind me, someone handed me a $20. At first I protested, but I really didn’t have any options. I thanked them, and after paying, attempted to hand them the change. They told me to keep it. I asked if I could take down their phone number or address so I could repay them, and they said no.

The kindness of that stranger is something I will never forget. That twenty dollars was probably nothing to them, but it really was everything to me. The ten dollars in change was put to good use — towards food until I got paid again. While I was never able to repay that stranger, I have paid their kindness forward multiple times over. I know what it feels like to be on both sides of such random acts of kindness, and hands down, I love being on the giving side.

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Natalie Ruiz

Tech CEO. Mom. Non-Profit Board Member. Working to normalize belonging at work. Living in gratitude. Trying to leave people and places better than I find them.