be generous

In my first podcast this week, I mentioned the concept of being generous, but in an off-the-cuff sort of way – so I thought I would elaborate on what I meant. Aside from my Happiness Project, I decided to make one resolution this year: to be generous.

I don’t mean to be generous in a material way; more mentally and spiritually. It’s so easy to be mean spirited, to sneer at others’ achievements: she only got that because she cheated or he’s successful but he’s an idiot. We seem to enjoy being mean to and about each other – actually I think if we’re honest, we really enjoy being mean about people, don’t we? We hate for other people to be successful and rather than openly admit, “I’m pretty jealous; I’d like to have that/do that/wear that/look like that myself” we pick holes in them, how they look or how they got to where they are.

I’ve decided this year to try to be more generous and in turn, less judgemental. The other day I wrote a post about how to be more happy, and one of the points I made was that we should ignore what others are doing, unless it directly affects us. So often we get caught up in what someone else is doing, when it makes no difference at all to our own lives. She said this, he thinks that, she wrote this on her blog, this person tweeted this. Who cares? My plan is to either pay less attention to what people are doing, or be more generous in my reaction to it.

When someone blogs their opinion, and it’s different to mine: just agree to disagree; don’t have a go at them or secretly seethe at their lack of knowledge/understanding/experience/whatever.

When someone has written something littered with spelling mistakes, and my initial reaction is to sneer and click away: read the piece and congratulate the person on their efforts. 

When someone is really irritating me with the way they talk or behave:  she just has a different way of doing things to you.

When someone tweets me a link to their blog and I already have 50 things to do this evening: be generous. Go and have a look, leave a comment. Retweet them.

When I see a parent doing something I would never do with S: so what? We all do things differently.

Smile at people on the street. Hold doors open, stop and give tourists directions. Be nice to the person on the till in Boots when I’ve been queueing for ten minutes to pay for a packet of aspirin.

For me, it’s mostly about taking a deep breath and giving people the freedom to be themselves.

And it’s something I need to remind myself of on a daily basis.

I read this article earlier this week about how allowing that inner critic to run riot allows it to do just that – it doesn’t stop at bad mouthing others, but continues to be judgemental and bitchy when you’re trying to do something. I’m a terrible victim of that voice in my head, and I’m hoping that by quieting it down when it talks about others, I can stop it from whispering in my own ear. The podcast I posted earlier this week was recorded two weeks ago; it took me two weeks to just bite the bullet and post it because of that voice. I can do without that sort of voice in my life!

This is not necessarily something other people will notice my doing; you can’t see or hear my thoughts, after all. But I am trying to cut down on the amount of bitching I do both inside and outside of my head. I think this might be an interesting experiment to see whether it affects my mood and confidence, and how much.


Although I’m not doing this as a monthly challenge, this is a part of my Happiness Project. If you have a suggestion for a future monthly challenge, do please fill in this form.

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Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Tim · 23/01/2015 at 09:57

This is a great attitude to have. I do often struggle with why some people seem so intent on imposing their values and world-view on everyone else, as if there is only one way to bring up a child correctly, for instance. At work, in a corporate environment, I’m a little bit different from your standard corporate management type: I’m quiet, reflective and more comfortable working with ideas than processes. At times in my career I have had people suggest that I need to be more like Type X if I want to get along, which I’ve come to realise is actually more their problem than mine. I’ve always most enjoyed working with people who see the world differently to me – they fill in my blind spots and drive me to look at problems from different angles – so if I can embrace and get the most out of the differences between people, why can’t they?

I think it’s even more the case with our children. As I’ve written several times over on my blog, I love the fact our three kids have such distinct personalities, and the fact they make each other view the world more broadly than they would on their own. By being different, they’re teaching each other valuable lessons in addition to what they learn in a classroom. So being tolerant of other people’s different approaches and just listening to them is a huge skill as far as I’m concerned.

Mim · 24/01/2015 at 13:15

I love this post – it’s such a wonderful goal to have and I’ll follow your lead :) It’s all too easy to think that what we do is the only right way and judge others who do things differently – well for me anyway :) I also think that the more you give to others, the better you are as a person yourself and karma will reward you…at some point. Thanks so much for sharing this, it gave me a chance to step back and reassess my own behaviour and what I can do differently to be more giving to others. Mim @ #WeekendBlogHop

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