One of the thoughts that got me excited when I was about to conclude my University education was the fact that I was going to start earning a living soon. That I was going to be financially independent for the first time in my life. I also figured that as the last child in the family, I would have little or no responsibilities in line with having to share my income with anyone (even though I knew I of course was obligated to my family in some ways), after all as the baby of the house I was allowed to take, but hardly expected to give. Looking back now, I can’t help but laugh at my naivety, as I have since realized how completely deluded I was.
Many years down the line, life has taught me that no one is exempt from contributing not just in a family, but in any setting at all. As I left the Ivory Tower that the four walls of an academic institution offered; as I grew older and began to experience real life firsthand, one of the lessons I learned is that virtually everything is to be shared. And I not only had a responsibility to share whatever I had with my immediate family members, but everyone I called friend, family, colleague or even acquaintance.
Friends, there’s very little that gives unbridled joy as much as giving. Call it sharing, generosity, magnanimity or kindness and you would still be speaking the same language. Personally, I find that I am happiest when I am able to give of myself. This undoubtedly includes extending financial assistance to the next person, but is most definitely not limited to that. There’s something inexplicable about sharing that brings fulfillment. And not necessarily money. For me, it’s also engaging my God-given talent in helping others. A kind word here, a timely advice there, inspiring another writer, and generally harnessing the best of my substance for the benefit of others.
I know that there are many qualities that makes a person attractive. There are many attributes that may earn someone the right to be tagged a good person. They may be gentle and devoid of any shenanigans. They may be the type who never pokes their nose in other people’s affairs, always minding their own business. They may be dedicated and hardworking. But, all these hardly count if they are stingy or selfish. As far as this writer is concerned, the single most attractive quality in a human being is generosity. I know this is hugely arguable. Many will opine that self-confidence, humility, charisma, a disarming smile and the likes are surely more attractive qualities than generosity, but I beg to differ.
The major reason why we are in the quagmire we have found ourselves is because we have always had selfish leaders who think only of themselves. If our leaders were kind and considerate as one would naturally expect them to be, then we would be far better off as a country. Unfortunately this has not been the case. And in this sad situation, the message is instructive for those of us who are up and coming to be different.
Look, if you are the only one who spends your salary all the time, if you hardly take out time to listen to other people’s problems and try to help them in spite of your own troubles, if you are not contributing your money, time or expertise to any cause without gaining something in return, then you should be worried. You should! It’s a sure way to know you are self-centered, which isn’t exactly something to be proud of.
The idea behind humanity alone is one that unequivocally portrays interdependence as a prerequisite for wholesome living. Eve was created so Adam wouldn’t be alone. And even before Eve came around, Adam had the task of tending to the plants and animals in the garden while he also fed through them. The concept of caring and tending to others was entrenched from time immemorial. And even now, centuries down the line, the one who is reputed to be kind and generous and giving is hardly ever stranded. They never lack friends. They never lack in substance. They never ever lack in goodwill.
Of course, there are downsides to being generous. People will take advantage of your tendency to give. Lenders will take from you and never look back. You’ll most likely have parasites, and even enemies masquerading as friends just because of what they can get from you. You may get your fingers burnt a couple of times, but, the pros far outweigh the cons.
This may not be the best of times to talk about giving, because frankly no one is in the mood to give in this recession. Understandably, everyone is trying to retain whatever they are lucky to have in these hard times because of the worrisome trend of the economy. How do you even consider sharing the little you have when you’re trying to keep your head above water? How can you spare time or contribute to a cause when you have to “double your hustle” to ensure your family doesn’t starve? There is recession in the land and she preaches generosity? It’s a paradox, really.
But, that’s precisely what generosity is all about. That’s what makes a person generous. Their willingness to part with their widows mite. It’s also why successful people feel a kind of emptiness which pushes them to philanthropy at some point in their lives. There’s an inborn desire to give in every man, to be a part of something bigger than self.
It’s imperative that we do not allow the present state of the economy harden our hearts to the plight of others. Apart from the obvious reality that people need support now more than ever before, the immense benefits of being chivalrous cannot be quantified. I may not know all the ways to be happy, but I am certain of one.
If you want to be happy, give.