by Darren Pries-Klassen, CEO, Abundance Canada
Even though it’s been a few years since my kids were in school, our household still settles into new routines in the fall. My wife and I sit down in September and fill out the calendar with our various commitments. While this activity has the potential to feel overwhelming, I’ve found that it readies us for the year ahead. When new opportunities arise at work or in the community, we can be ready to say “yes” if it fits into our schedule.
In the same way, generosity is a mindset that helps our giving fall into place, but we need to take some time to prepare if we’re going to give when the opportunity arises.
Early in my career, a gentleman named John contacted me for advice on what to do with a large sum of money he was set to inherit. I suggested he consider all his options and talked him through a series of questions.
“Do you need the money for debts, retirement, other things?” I asked. “No,” he answered. “I have a good retirement plan and so does my wife. And we don’t have any debts.” John also rejected the option of spending the money on a once-in-a-lifetime expense, like a vacation, new home, or a fancy car.
“What about giving it to your kids to help with school or their mortgage?” I pressed on. “No,” he replied again. “We have RESPs for their education, and I want them to work for their money. Besides, I am not sure they could handle a big amount of funds.”
“Well, what about giving it to a charitable cause of some kind?” I suggested. Suddenly, our amiable conversation stopped dead and John looked at me as if I had suddenly sprouted three heads. “Why on earth would I give it away?” he asked. Taken aback by his response, I explained, “You just told me you don’t need it, you can’t spend it, you won’t spend it, and it is too much for your kids to handle. What else can you possibly do with it other than give it away?” He continued to look at me as if I was a crazy person.
Although John did not choose to give any of his inheritance to charity that day, he taught me a lot about generosity. I realized that without a generous mindset, giving feels counterintuitive.
On the other hand, a person who has cultivated a generosity mindset is focused on the things they have, not what they lack. They are much more likely to seize the opportunity to give generously.
Developing a generosity mindset takes practice. It starts in small ways. Smile at a stranger. Help someone run errands. Donate your spare change. By making generosity part of your daily plans you get into the habit of giving (and tune your mind to focus on what you have) so that you can say “yes” to giving big when you get the chance.
Are you ready to make developing a generosity mindset part of your routine?
Abundance Canada is a CRA registered foundation that helps people realize their philanthropy and giving potential in their lifetime and beyond. Learn more at abundance.ca.