"Cultivate caring and generosity. Happiness is the natural state of a loving heart."How often do we, as a society... scratch that, how often do we, personally, cultivate caring and generosity? What exactly does that mean, to cultivate? Well, it means to foster the growth of something, to encourage. How often do you encourage love, caring, and generosity in others? Sometimes, lets be honest, we get so wrapped up in life that we forget to cultivate anything in others much less ourselves. This doesn't mean you cultivate caring and generosity by doing for others, although it can help to cultivate it. When you do something are you doing it with a joyful and giving heart or are you doing it out of a sense of duty?
The spirit in which you give (cultivate) caring and generosity is important. I will admit there have been times where I have given but have not cultivated caring or generosity because my spirit has not been in it; I have done it because it has been expected of me, or I perceived it as being expected of me. Maybe I said yes with every intention of happily doing it but over stretched myself, but in the end the spirit was lacking.
I have a natural tendency toward being a caregiver or of "servant spirit." I know this of me and my personality. It's not a bad thing to have, in fact I would view it as one of the great gifts given by God. That being said, even a caregiver sometimes needs a bit of tender care. Caregivers rarely ask for things they need. I think this is because we feel guilty with not being able to give 110% of ourselves 110% of the time to whomever asks, and when we need some special care and don't get relief from being the caregiver, our spirit becomes tainted with other feelings, many of those feelings having little to do with care and love.
Sometimes the caregiver is in need things too; but don't wait for us to ask outright for help. If you have a person in your life that is a caregiver and they are always doing something for others, don't just ask them if they need help in a general way but tell them you are doing something for them. Sit back and look at all they do in a day to see what area they may need help in. Surprise them with a kindness. A friend one time surprised me with a plant, and it meant the world to me and helped me to feel like someone cared about me as well. It doesn't have to be something big. A letter in the mail (please don't use electronic means, go out of your way and cultivate something), a phone call, a forzen meal that they can go home and pop in the oven when maybe they have helped someone all day, something to help rejuvenate that caregiver's soul. Sometimes even the caregiver needs some love.
Being kind and showing generosity really does cultivate happiness.
It's hard to be generous when we feel like someone has hurt us or used us, but we are told to forgive. It doesn't mean we forget, but we can forgive and when we forgive, it becomes easier to overlook those memories of trying times. When we learn to forgive those who we think have wronged us we are manifesting the true spirit of Christ's generosity. In Matthew 5 we can learn about the spirit of Christ's generosity. It's hard, really hard, to look at someone that has done us a wrong but still show them love. It doesn't mean you have to bend over backwards doing for them, but treat them with understanding. How long should we do this for a brother or sister? Christ addresses this as well, we are told 70 X 7, or in other words, forever. They may or may not ever acknowledge a wrong they did toward you, but you have to concern yourself with how you feel, not with their lack of apology. I struggle with this over some wrong I felt was done to me years ago, and it is difficult. I know it is, so I can understand how difficult it can be, but we can do it and when we do it's freeing.
Sometimes we are kind and loving, showing generosity toward others, even forgiveness; we might be well thought about by everyone, and they can count on us to always be someone they can rely upon BUT what about those in our own homes? Have we given so much to everyone else that we neglect those within our own family? Have we stretched ourselves so thin in a world full of gadgets that are suppose to give us more time that we have nothing left to give to the people that would benefit the most from us cultivating a garden full of love and generosity? I know I am guilty, and I suspect I'm not alone. The ones that need to see a generous spirit in us the most are those we love. We need to remember to cultivate our garden first and the spill over of that love and generosity will carry on into other areas of our life, witnessed by others and reaching them in ways we can't even fathom.
Cultivating our own garden is where the happiness ingrains itself into our heart.
As I move forward, I am focusing more on those I love and cultivating my own garden with greater detail. By doing this I hope that I cultivate happiness not only in myself, but in my husband and daughter. The spill over of three happy people can move mountains in the rest of the world. So I leave you, gentle friends, with this challenge. Simplify, get rid of time wasters and gadgets that are suppose to give you more time, and begin to cultivate your garden first, and the happiness you create within your own heart and family will spill over in to all the lives you touch.
Linking up with "WHAT WORKS WEDNESDAY" at Upside Down Homeschooling. (7/11/12)