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It might be too soon after the pandemic to joke about “catching” anything, but let’s make the case for “catching” the joy of living generously!

Generosity is defined as the willingness to give or to share; an act of unselfish giving. So whether you tithe to charities, volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen, or donate gently used clothes to a homeless shelter, small acts of kindness and generosity can make a huge difference to the recipient. But the truth is, people who are generous also reap rewards for themselves — studies show being generous brings givers feelings of true joy and fulfillment. While generosity is meant to help those in need, generosity has a “pay it forward” inspirational quality that has the power to create a kindness ripple effect. The bottom line is when the joy of generosity becomes “catching,” EVERYONE wins — the recipient, the giver, and all who are inspired to become generous.


Get Your Family to Catch the “Generosity Bug”

The family that finds the joy in giving nets so many benefits in return:

  • A deep bonded connection across generations
  • An appreciation for the values of kindness and generosity
  • A strong family identity, which influences the self-identity of younger generations
  • An understanding of true gratitude as the focus shifts from self to others

While generosity can help build strong family bonds, practicing generosity is also a valid mental health principle and could be the key to a happy and healthy life. Year after year, studies have highlighted the benefits of generosity to both our physical and mental health:

  • Reduces stress
  • Naturally fights depression
  • Builds self-confidence
  • Enhances one’s sense of purpose
  • Promotes social connections and improves relationships


How Do You Inspire “Generosity” Within Your Family?

Generosity rarely happens by chance. Instead, it is an intentional decision that we make in our lives, and one we consciously incorporate into our family value system. The reality is that it’s easy to believe in embracing generosity, but you have to walk the walk not just talk the talk. Here are three ways to get your family to jump on the generosity bandwagon:

MODEL: When you organize a fundraiser for the local school, make sure your kids join you for the event. They need to see generosity in action so they’ll want to participate in charity themselves someday.

ENCOURAGE: Regularly discuss with your kids where their community service interests lie. You can’t support everything charity, so your kids need to figure out what causes are meaningful to them.

ENGAGE: Share news stories with your kids that show the results of good works so that they can see how generosity can change outcomes.


The 7 Forms of Generosity

When most people think of ways to be generous, they think of monetary donations or donating items they no longer need to charity. These are both excellent ways to unselfishly give, but they are not the only ways to spread kindness. In fact, there are seven forms of generosity. Here are the forms of generosity, and an idea or two for ways to bring that form to life with your family:

  1. THOUGHTS: Forgive someone (or yourself), and let go of the anger and resentment towards them.
  2. WORDS: When someone does something kind for you, accept it with genuine gratitude.
  3. MONEY: When you get paid, give first to a favorite charity.
  4. TIME: Call someone you haven’t talked to in ages just to let them know you’re thinking of them.
  5. THINGS: Sell something you don’t use anymore, and give the money to a family in need.
  6. INFLUENCE: Give someone a tutorial of something you know how to do that they don’t — be patient!
  7. ATTENTION: Put your phone away when you’re with friends, and give them your full and undivided attention — no scrolling in the bathroom!

As English author John Bunyan once said, “You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” Generosity is truly the gift that keeps on giving, so make it a priority to “catch” the joy of generosity whenever you can. Each day life presents us with hundreds of opportunities to be generous. By making a lifestyle out of generosity, we can do ourselves, our families, and our community a world of good!


Share the Love, Share the Feeling, Share the Gift of Healing
The OHI community relies on acts of kindness and generosity from people like you to support those in need.  Please make your donation now – by calling (800) 588-0809, or online at www.OptimumHealth.org – Support OHI – many more lives are at stake.