Awhile back I reflected on the fact that I wasn't a very generous person. Somehow, merely acknowledging this "out loud" has helped me to take the next step seemingly without effort.... to become a more generous person.
One of the items on the list from the link I shared in that post was to spend time with a generous person. And to embrace gratitude. I read the list and, to be honest, did not set out to do these things. Like I said, it was as if just putting the acknowledgment out there set my mind-- or rather, heart --in motion. I have found that, through my yoga community, I did in fact surround myself with generous people. People who volunteer to make yogi tea, those who fill the studio and even the space by our front door with plants and also care for them, those who take the garbage out and clean it, some bring delicious & healthy food to share, and much more.
I have watched and marveled at the ongoing generosity-- and have truly felt enormous gratitude for the time and efforts of each. I have discovered that that feeling of gratitude for those who give of themselves generously has shifted my own attitude towards how I value and spend my time and efforts. This is what makes a community and a life. The return on investment has no measure.
I am not a very generous person.
It’s not because I am unkind or uncaring or lack compassion. It’s just something I know I need to work on.
As a yoga and meditation teacher, this quality runs contrary to what I know.
Communities bring us joy, keep us safe, connect us to a world beyond ourself, help us to band together for a common cause…. and they can be quite demanding! Volunteer time, bring a potluck dish, organize something, share something, DO something and add a flurry of dates in your calendar for them. Sure, you can just show up to what you want and skip all the rest— as Woody Allen says, “Showing up is 80% of life”. But that is a great way to find yourself on the periphery of the community and not truly reaping the benefits for which you “bother” anyway. Then why bother? Do we really need a tribe?
As a parent especially, where “it takes a village” of which we no longer have in modern life, our communities are our life source, our support staff, our cheerleaders, and our inspirations. From childcare to healthcare to sharing of general wisdom to more sets of eyes guarding my family, yes, these are tribes worth having. Tribes "to bother" for. Tribes we get to GIVE for.
There is something magical about the idea of giving to receive. You hear it — "give and the Universe will give back plenty-fold".
This is how community works. But it’s not really about the quantity of your giving. It’s about the energy of your giving. You can force yourself to volunteer, bend over backwards for the sake of trying, donate time and money and be internally pissy about it and find you are not receiving back. Where’s the magic? Where’s the return on your investment?
It’s in your energy. Whether it’s drained you or lifted you, what you give is what you get.
Volunteer time and (any great or ordinary) skills that you have with a grateful attitude because this community means something to you. Give because you share values. Give with heart. Give because this feels worth the time you’re carving out in your busy life. Read that last sentence again in case you opted out in the first sentence because of the “time you (don’t) have”. This point means you are making the time because it’s necessary for your own life stability and growth and return on investment, in addition to the enrichment of your community.
Give for what matters. And decide that people matter. Each of us are worth the time and energy for our tribe(s). And you will receive plenty-fold back. You will receive LIFE.
I am a mama, an intentional storyteller, a celestial communicator, a spiritual teacher, and a lover of stories of all kinds, in all forms. I write about parenting, natural health options, mind-body-soul connections, and anything that elevates our lives.