Does Generosity Cost You?

Peace Rose

If generosity is a good trait, why does it get tangled up in angst and confusion at this time of year? How can you maintain inner peace in a season of relentless advertising, competitive shopping and expensive gift-giving?

I have been mulling over this question since we focused on the week six theme of generosity with my Mother-Daughter Way ONE goddesses last month. It was easier to manage week 6 during the pilot group last January when I tagged the focus as a week of contemplating abundance. But I am developing a more precise map inward, cultivating the qualities of mindfulness that truly contribute to a transformative Mother-Daughter Way journey. Like an artist with a palette of colors, each tone that you add changes the balance of the picture, and within my exploration of mother-daughter story-telling, word choice matters.

We all crave abundance. But “generosity?”

When you run into resistance about being generous, what is the script in your head? Here are some generosity-killers that run through my head when the impulse to give presses against the critic.

“will I have enough? Is this person ready?

What if they don’t like my offering?

What if I look like a fool?

Do I have the time and energy?

What if things don’t turn out the way I envision?

What if . . . what if . . .”

I’ve found, actually, that generosity does cost you. The price is indecision and self-consciousness.

Generosity pushed me out of the “what if” zone and into action

When I launched the first Mother-Daughter Way journey one year ago this week, I was nervous. Would I be able to help others by sharing this path, or was I delusional? Whenever I focused on my fear, I held back. But once I realized how important it was for me to share my gifts, I was flooded with excitement and evidence of the power of faith and action, the power of generosity.

The word generosity is derived from the English, and French, and denotes “of noble birth.” Incorporating generosity into your mental framework and daily practice forces you to reach higher, engage with others, and step up to your aspiration.

Generosity does not cost you; generosity expands you.

Let me tell you a little December story. This is my favorite month. I love the lights, the snow, the sense of wonder about the birth of Christ, and the rich memories of past Christmases with grandparents, parents, and old friends and neighbors. I was born on New Year’s Eve, so the month ends with a worldwide party that I can always call my own.

My dear husband is not fond of cold weather and snow. Every time he sees the shimmering lights or hears the heater go on, he sees dollar bills burning. He grouses about the decorations, turns off lights, and plays Scrooge to my Sugar Plum Fairy. He jokes about getting an artificial tree or none at all.

This year has been one of change and loss. It wasn’t clear if we’d have a real Christmas tree, or any Christmas tree. In my daily meditation and writing practice, I invoked the spirit of generosity and released any Christmas tree expectation. I did so because I love and treasure Paul  more than the smell of pine in the living room, or the twinkle of the lights. If he didn’t have the energy or time to put up a tree at our house, I was proud that he had done so for his dear parents. I’d be OK with whatever transpired.

Then, to my delight, he suggested we “get the damn tree.”

I thought it might take a few days for the tree to go up, but Paul kept going and put on the lights, and then . . .to my surprise, he started decorating it!

By the time we called it a night, we had finished the bulk of the decorations. The house was transformed.

That was my Christmas miracle.

Have you noticed an effect of generosity, or a script that holds you back?

Please reply now in the comments below, as I love to hear from you.


Janice Wilson Stridick




PS: The watercolor above, “Peace Rose,” by my mother Alice Steer Wilson, came to my attention when I received an email (as I was starting this blog) from the woman who owns it. Serendipitous generosity!

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  1. Elaine Paulson says

    In my Course in Miracles group, we traditionally read a piece called “Christmas as the End of Sacrifice.” The message is that when we give from a sense of lack, “not enoughness,” it is indeed a sacrifice. But the course’s message is all about love, the idea that there is abundant love, more than enough to go around, that when we give out of love, we receive it back.
    We are free to change our attitude about giving, so let’s try it on this season and notice how it feels. Love works!
    Good going, Paul!
    And love to all who read this.

  2. Robin W Wells says

    Hi Janice,

    Good topic for these special days preparing for Christmas. I like to think of generosity as loving kindness and it comes in many different forms. It can be monetary, social, emotional, physical or any combination. It can be minute or gigantic. It is being a conduit, channelling what’s been given to me to provide to others whether or not they know it’s what they need.

    For the most part, there is little to no cost to me because what I give usually comes back in a giant circle when I least expect it. When I am unsure about what to do, I say a prayer asking for guidance and help seeing what is really needed. Sometimes it’s just a kind word or a hug or praise. Other times, it’s much more.

    Sometimes, those in need can’t ask or have trouble receiving. But, it doesn’t mean that they don’t know or appreciate what is done. In my experience, it has rarely been totally rejected. The issue is finding the right balance and thing to do. That’s where divine guidance comes in. And, in not expecting anything in return or praise for your efforts immediately. Karma takes care if it.

    The real thing is not to be taken advantage of by a user who gives nothing back to anyone.

    You’re a loving, generous woman whose work and life touches other’s souls and helps heal bodies.

    Hope this helps,

    • says

      Thank you, Robin — You know from whence you speak. I’ve seen how much you give, in so many ways, and I also see the abundance that you create around you. Thinking of those who are unable to ask, and their opposites — the takers — I like to refer back to that giant circle of energy you mentioned, and the quietness of prayer and reflection to stay present with true generosity and move away from unconscious or automatic actions and expectations. xo

  3. says

    At this time of year, much of our focus on generosity concerns money. Money is round. It can roll towards you or away from you. And it can cost you either way.

    Know where your assumptions about generosity come from and how they influence you. Let go of those that no longer serve you and learn to convey to yourself and others the messages you want to live by.

    This is all you have. Protect it.

  4. Paula Pappas says

    Hi Janice,
    I was taught that generosity and ‘giving’ are religious (or spiritual) obligations.
    In order to help ‘repair the world’ a human being needs be generous with her resources- whether that is time, a sympathetic ear, a meal for a sick neighbor, a helping hand, money to a charity, etc.
    It is not easy to be generous–but it is an ideal to strive towards and generosity rewards the giver.
    Thanks for asking for my opinion:)

  5. Leigh says

    Loved reading your blog this morning. I have a very similar (in some ways) story with Buddy and the Christmas tree. I come from many years of Christmas being the “most wonderful” time of the year. He, on the other hand, sees it as just another day and reluctant to spend much energy or planning for the holidays. The first year we lived together I asked if he’d enjoy picking out a “real” tree with me, and to my surprise, he said very matter of factly “We’re not going to have a tree this year. I never get a tree”. I was surprised (shocked, actually) at his indifference to both the holiday and ME! Long story short, although we didn’t talk about it for a couple of days and he grunted and grumbled, he eventually INVITED ME (with a big sigh to go along) to come pick out a REAL tree with him. And much to my surprise, he even helped decorate! We even had a few laughs as I teased him while we were putting on lights “See! If he chooses, even ‘the Grinch’ can have fun at Christmas!” ha ha!

    • says

      Hmmm . . . seems we both married wanna-be grinches who just can’t help being princes! I’ve known people who have sad associations with loss at the holidays, and of course it’s important to allow and honor that. But I’m glad to know you’re able to share the love of the season. Merry Christmas 🙂

  6. Susan D. Schwartz says

    I’ve thought a lot about giving these past few months. It seemed like I spent years giving and giving… what I found was that I was not allowing others to give to me. Once I discovered that about myself, my whole world changed. Those that I had given to were just waiting for their chance to share their blessings with me. Giving has been a gift of receiving for me.