We can understand generosity in two ways.
First, generosity is a spontaneous expression of an open heart and mind. It is not a matter of deciding to be generous, but instead it arises and simply flows out of us. When we are connected and wholehearted, generosity emerges without thought. Hafiz says:
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
With a love like that,
It lights the
The second way to investigate generosity is as a practice. When we practice generosity we are, as Pema Chodron says, learning to let go. Generosity helps us connect with others and it generates awareness of our interconnectedness with all beings. In order to give, someone must receive and in order to receive, someone must give.
Recent science coming out of the University of Notre Dame says that that being generous causes a person to be happier and healthier.
The ancient teachings of the buddha speak of generosity as a treasure and recommend practicing acts of generosity as a basis of social harmony and personal virtue.
To cultivate generosity, take on the challenge of acting on every generous impulse you have for 24 hours. Give food away 4 times this month. Give away $20 or $50 dollars to a stranger.
Generosity need not be limited to money and goods. Practice generosity with your time or your receptivity. Give a smile and a kind word.