Twenty Practices to Increase Generosity

1. Practice gratitude. Today notice all the things in your experience that you can be grateful for. There are so many things we are not grateful for until we don’t have them. For example, can you breathe easily today? Appreciate that. Does your left elbow work? Notice it.

2. Offer experience. When you see, feel, hear, or taste something pleasurable today, offer it to the enlightened spiritual beings of all faiths. This allows us to experience pleasurable things while not becoming attached to the experience and it cultivates the habit of giving.

3. Be generous to yourself. Today, cut yourself some slack. Give yourself some space. Ease up on self-judgment. Take time and make effort to give yourself the same nurturing that you more easily give to others. This will result in a life with more ease, which is a support for well-being. It will also help cultivate the habit of generosity with others since you will feel how good it feels to be the recipient of kind, generous behavior.

4. When in conflict, escalate generosity. Today, when someone is irritating you, instead of escalating the conflict, try to see their conflicted behavior as a symptom of their suffering and escalate generosity. This is the practice of restraint and generosity. It develops your patience and will help others have the direct experience of kindness, which will gradually help them be less conflicted.

5. Celebrate the joys and virtues of others. The practice of empathetic joy is an antidote to jealousy and helps decrease the fear and suffering of a jealous mind. Others will feel pleased to be recognized and to share their successes and you will receive the experience of their joy. If you suffer from performance anxiety or a need to be recognized as right or ‘the best,’ this practice will help ease the suffering of these mind states.

6. Notice the strings attached to your generosity. Make offerings. Give things away, both material and imagined. Notice how you want something in return. In the moment of noticing, don’t judge, just see. In this way you begin to understand generosity and the lack of it. No need to be critical of yourself. If you see your actions without judgement, little by little they will change.

7. Accept what is offered. When people offer you something, whether it is a compliment or a new house, accept it graciously. Be present for the gift. Don’t worry about motivations other than your own. Fully formed generosity is also able to receive gifts and help from others.

8. Use mindfully. Today, remember all other beings and mind your consumption. Eat simply so others can eat. Recycle and reuse. Share. These small acts acknowledge that we are interconnected and that our actions have impact on others.

9. Accept the suffering of others with forbearance. There are many practices for this. If someone is angry, mean, or unkind, they are suffering. Accept this and do not return their unkindness with your own suffering. They have enough already. Offer your clarity if you can. Even if you simply make the wish that they be relieved of their suffering, you are helping them by not adding to their burden and you are helping train your own mind.

10. Offer forgiveness. The hope for a better past is always futile. When you forgive someone, you are not saying what they did was right or helpful, you are letting go of your own suffering around the issue and moving on. This benefits you and the other person, as well.

11. Stop stealing. When we kill, cheat, or lie, we are stealing. When we selfishly overuse shared resources, we are stealing, which is antithetical to generosity. Determine that today you will not steal. If you feel you were stealing, do your best to correct the matter as soon as possible and celebrate your new awareness. No need to feel guilty!

12. Help relieve the fears of others. Many people–even those who seem successful and proud–are filled with fear. Be generous with your attention, your approval, and your smiles.

13. Practice equanimity. It’s easy to be generous with people we like. Expand your generosity by extending it to those with whom you have difficult and indifferent relationships. All beings want to be happy. It’s the one thing we have in common. Let yourself have the luxury of extending generosity to strangers and to those who would call themselves your enemy. Feel yourself relax as you feel the barriers dissolve.

14. Water the seeds of the happiness of others. When people are unbalanced, they suffer. You can help by helping that person remember their inner resources, pleasant memories, and positive circumstances. Even their physiology will change as they dwell on the positive.

15. Support all faiths. Give time, money, and energy to support the practice of the authentic spiritual teachings in all traditions. If you cannot do intensive practice yourself, support those who do (monks, nuns and hermits or other committed lay folk). You and others will benefit from their presence in the world and the future will be more sane, safe, and happy as we all progress spiritually.

16. Offer your presence with no agenda. If someone is having difficulty or is sick or dying, offer to be present with their suffering. Let go of agendas. Just stay. Use your own mindfulness to see when your agendas arise and drop them. Even 5 minutes of genuine presence is a gift that can bring spacious relief.

17. Take care of yourself. Many people, some of whom you do not know about, depend on you. So, take good care of yourself. Show up. Give yourself a break. Accept support.

18. Remind yourself that things change. Everything is impermanent. Nothing lasts. The worst suffering and the greatest joys fade. Noticing this is the antidote to clinging.

19. Perform generous acts in secret. Do something generous and keep it a secret. This will help prevent pride and will help you develop the ability to give without wanting something in return.

20. Learn from yourself about generosity. As you practice generosity, you will see that sometimes, even when you want to be generous, you can’t. It’s hard work! The more you learn about this, the more you will be patient with others’ lack of generosity and the more you will appreciate their generosity

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