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Spontaneous Overflow Reflecting in Tranquility

The Official Blog of Michael Schoenhofer, Executive Director

Thoughts by Myself #15 - Generosity

Everyone Deserves the Benefit-of-the-Doubt - Including Yourself.

It is tough not to be judgmental these days. When Mary and I go walking in the park, we appreciate our fellow walkers who move off to the side, giving us proper social distancing. We provide a lot of space to those who seem oblivious to giving up space and distance. It's hard not to feel judgment and blame.

I get testy with the people I live with, my wife and daughter. Ruminating about everything we can’t do, it’s so easy to react to petty annoyances, making things more significant than they are. Then I feel remorse and regret. "Why did I say that?" It's hard not to feel judgment and blame.

Perhaps I need to give everyone, including myself, the benefit-of-the-doubt.

Giving the benefit-of-the-doubt means to suspend the belief that others are out to get me or to suspend my self-loathing when I fail to be at my best. It means to think of myself and another in their best light.

It’s difficult to give myself a break when I lash out in anger at those I love or after I binge on chips and dip. And it is hard to extend this thought to those who post things on social media, letters to the editor, or the opinion page I disagree with.

Extending the benefit-of-the-doubt is another way of saying—Be Generous and Kind. There are a lot of benefits to practicing generosity (The Science of Generosity). And with all the stress, worry, and anxiety we experience, it is so important to focus on our health and well-being.

  • Improved physical health

  • Improved psychological health and well-being

  • Improved quality of life

  • Improved vitality and self-esteem

  • Improved relationships

There is even The Coronavirus Generosity Challenge you can check out. For example, ZOOM and LOOM are offering their videoconferencing services to all K-12 schools for free—FOREVER.

But how can I extend generosity and kindness to everyone?

  1. Practice Gratitude - gratefulness motivates generosity, whether you are giving thanks or receiving thanks.

  2. Experience Awe - being in the presence of something vast opens us to gratitude.

To practice this we need only change our focus for a minute.

  1. Notice the good, the helpers.

  2. Look for lightness and humor in every situation. Can I laugh at this?

  3. Step outside to experience nature or the night sky.

  4. Stop a moment to ask: “Do I need to share this nasty post? Make that rough comment? React in that harsh way?”

  5. Post a picture of a beautiful flower, like a dandelion, or a picture of your cat or your dog to brighten everyone’s day.

You find what you look for.

Nastiness breeds judgment, blame and worry.

Gratefulness and Awe breed generosity, kindness, and love.

Just for a minute today, change your mind and look for beauty. I am sure you will find it.

Stay well!

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