July Practice: Generosity

This practice was developed for the Fetzer Institute by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, directors of SpiritualityandPractice.com.

Giving is one way we express our love—to those close to us, to our neighbors, to animals and plants, and to the Earth. We are encouraged to be generous at certain times of year—holidays, birthdays, at year's end for tax deductions—but spiritual practices can help us make generosity an everyday activity.

Rabbi David Cooper in his book, God Is a Verb, suggests that every morning, you put a dollar in a place where you can reach it quickly. Give it away to the first needy person you meet, without stopping to evaluate how the money will be used. This practice cultivates the habit of giving without judgment, without ego, without thinking about what you might get back.

Have a generosity piggybank in your home. When you resist the impulse to go out for an expensive dinner, put a note in the bank with the dollar amount you have saved by eating at home. Children might choose to forgo a new toy and put the equivalent money in the bank. Adults might add up the cost of parking saved by taking public transportation. Periodically empty your generosity bank and have a family council to decide how to distribute it. Be creative in how you fill the bank and how you give its contents away.

How do you practice generosity? Feel free to share, your practice may be just the idea someone else is looking for.