When it comes to being generous it is easy to assume that we can only give when we have plenty, but what effect does this have on our lives? In this post I look at Chopra’s second law of spiritual success, ‘The Law of Giving’ and explore the surprising reasons why we should always be generous.
There have been times in my life when I have had limited finances, energy and time. During those times I assumed the ‘responsible’ approach was to restrict how generous I was towards others in order to achieve what it was I was trying to accomplish.
The rationale being, that once I had more of everything- money, time and energy- I could give generously to others again. For a period of time I had chosen to put myself first and protect my interests.
I stopped shouting coffees and lunches when I was with friends and family, I stopped being involved in volunteer work and I pushed myself to be ‘productive’ all the time and didn’t factor in any time to unwind and relax.
There was a hidden cost to living like this. Not only did it fail to guarantee abundance of any sort, it also changed my personality and my level of happiness. Quite simply, I was unhappy and my relationships were suffering. While I may have had slightly more money and time, my life as a whole was much poorer.
By seeing my life through a lens of scarcity I closed myself off from the vital exchange of giving and receiving. To give and to receive is to enter into an exchange which promotes appreciation, hope, empathy and happiness. We communicate when we are generous, saying ‘you are important to me,’ or ‘this issue matters.’
When I read Chopra’s second spiritual law of success, ‘The Law of Giving,’ I was struck by his observations about giving and receiving. He explains that in order to create abundance in our lives we must keep energy flowing, by giving and receiving, rather than restricting and limiting the flow by hoarding and protecting.
When I assumed I should limit the flow of generosity towards others because I felt I didn’t have enough to go around, I was fundamentally wrong. Chopra explains ‘Whenever blood stops flowing, it begins to clot, to coagulate, to stagnate. That is why you must give and receive in order to keep wealth and affluence – or anything you want in your life – circulating in your life.’
The idea that we should always be generous no matter what we have, so we can keep the flow of energy moving in our lives, is radically different from the Western mindset of hoarding to protect and ensure personal abundance.
The premise of Chopra’s second law is very simple- give that which you also desire to receive. He says;
Practicing the Law of Giving is actually very simple: if you want joy, give joy to others; if you want love, learn to give love; if you want attention and appreciation, learn to give attention and appreciation; if you want material affluence, help others to become materially affluent. In fact the easiest way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.
If we want to be happy we have to continue to be generous no matter how much we have or don’t have. Chopra encourages us to be generous on a daily basis;
…make a decision that any time you come into contact with anyone, you will give them something. It doesn’t have to be in the form of material things; it could be a flower, a compliment, or a prayer. In fact, the most powerful forms of giving are non-material. The gifts of caring, attention, affection, appreciation, and love are some of the most precious gifts you can give, and they don’t cost you anything.
The attitude or intention in which we give is hugely important. Chopra says, ‘The intention should always be to create happiness for the giver and the receiver, because happiness is life-supporting and life-sustaining and therefore generates increase.’
Once I learnt the lesson that being ungenerous made me unhappy, I decided that even when I have very little I will work hard to find ways to still be generous and believe that by giving I too will receive and enjoy my life more.
Now I find lots of simple and easy ways to tell those around me that they mean a lot to me. By ironing work shirts, cooking meals, running errands, catching up for a coffee, sending a card in the mail, I am affirming the relationships I am in.
At the heart of Chopra’s law is the importance of relationships. Without other people we wouldn’t have anyone to give to and we wouldn’t have anyone to receive things from either. It is through generosity that we strengthen our ties and bonds with each other.
Studies have shown that the stronger a person’s relationships are in their life the greater their levels of happiness, well-being and health. Here Chopra offers us a wonderful way to boost not only our own but also others health and happiness by enjoying the vital flow of life energy that comes from giving and receiving.
How will you give generously to others today?