When it comes to the core traits of genuinely good people, generosity has to be somewhere near the top of the list.
True generosity is the virtue of giving liberally without expecting anything in return. Being generous is synonymous with unselfishness and kindness.
When you’re generous, both giver and receiver feel good and often this creates a ripple effect that makes the world just a little bit better.
Do you want to be a bit more giving and generous? Well today’s your lucky day. I’ve listed the 10 common qualities of a truly generous person. Buckle up, your journey to generosity begins now. Let’s get into it!
1) Generous people have empathy
True generosity is rooted in empathy. Generous people are willing to give to those less fortunate since they can feel their struggles and therefore have the urge to help.
Empathy is often triggered by shared experiences.
A person who might have once struggled but later achieved success, for instance, tends to be generous to people of similar backgrounds.
Why? Because they identify with their trials and tribulations to an intimate degree.
They’re aware of the blood, sweat, and tears, the often crippling hardship that’s been endured. They’ve lived through it.
But they made it out–one of the few lucky ones to get that big break.
Being empathetic allows you to see yourself in another person, almost like a reflection in the mirror.
You want to help that person as best you can and often, and this often will come in the form of generosity.
2) Generous people are kind
Here’s the thing: almost every kind person I’ve come across in life was also generous.
Kind people have an innate tendency to care for others.
Whether it’s family or acquaintances or even strangers, the kind person will show compassion towards them, the latter often manifesting in acts of generosity.
This is because kind people actually enjoy and flourish when helping others.
The sight of a smiling face gives them a sense of fulfillment and joy. And in times of crisis, they think of the welfare of others first, not themselves.
Think about your favorite action or superhero movie… now think of the main character.
He or she isn’t merely a badass because of their fighting prowess, superhuman strength or chiseled biceps. Above all, what makes them heroic is their willingness to save everyone else before themselves.
Many times, these figures end up sacrificing their lives for the greater good. That’s about as generous and kind as it gets.
And though these may be fictional representations, I assure you this degree of generosity exists all over the world.
Maybe your superheroes are your parents, your teachers, or even the random acquaintances that have helped you out when you needed it.
While superheroes look great in saving the world, the generous person isn’t too concerned about image. Speaking of which…
3) They’re also not image-conscious
There’s a difference between a truly generous person and a billionaire philanthropist with a top-tier PR team or an attention-hungry TikTok influencer.
The real generous person will give for the sake of making someone’s life a little better. They want to help. That’s it. There’s no catch.
Much like the selfless movie superhero, the generous person moves silently, with no ulterior motive other than enriching the lives of others.
Sometimes, while I’m stuck in rush hour traffic, I find myself mindlessly scrolling through Instagram reels.
There are countless videos of influencers giving away material things to regular blue-collar folk, often heavily edited with a sappy soundtrack.
These viral videos have millions and millions of views and lots of praise in the comments.
So call me a bit of a grinch, but in my opinion, while giving away free things can be a great and extremely admirable exercise–shoving a camera in their face while doing it sort of affects the authenticity of it all.
Would these influencers practice this level of altruism without documenting it? I’m not so sure.
The truly generous person has no issues staying anonymous.
Personal gain is the last thing on their mind when they perform a generous act. They’re naturally humble.
This brings me to my next point…
4) They move quietly
Speaking of wanting to stay anonymous, truly generous people don’t care for publicity or praise when doing a good deed.
They don’t seek to openly publicize the “good” things they’ve done. They’re not narcissists, they’re low-key. And they certainly don’t brag when it comes to their acts of generosity.
Admittedly, I have a bit of pessimism when it comes to politicians.
Sure, there are some good ones out there, but many of these so-called public servants seem to act for PR, photo ops, and votes instead of wanting to create actual societal reform.
So when it comes to generosity, the world of politics isn’t exactly a breeding ground for it.
In contrast, your everyday, good-natured generous person is happy to help because of innate goodness, regardless of how big or small the task is.
Helping out a friend in their time of need? Priceless! Not to mention a sign of a great friend and an even better person.
Generosity always requires a degree of sacrifice. And since we’re on the topic…
5) They’re willing and able to sacrifice
As we’ve established, a key aspect of generosity is the ability to prioritize the needs of others before your own. Being selfless goes hand in hand with generosity.
Sacrifice means giving something up so someone in need can benefit from it–this can be in the form of money, time, material things, or anything of value, really…
I assume by now you’ve heard of Ke Huy Quan…
You know, the amusingly spirited kid from Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom and the Goonies who, after a prolonged hiatus from movies, just won an Oscar for his moving performance in Everything, Everywhere, All At Once.
Well, one of the first people he thanked in his tearful and poignant acceptance speech was his mother.
You see, Ke came to the US from Vietnam as a refugee escaping the war-torn turmoil of Indochina in the seventies.
Like many working-class immigrants, Ke’s family made tremendous and painful sacrifices for their son to not only make it out of turbulent Vietnam but to provide him the opportunities to succeed… a journey that led to educational and work opportunities… and eventually an Academy Award.
More often than not, the immigrant story is a powerful one: leaving abject poverty to live in isolation in a strange land, then overcoming tremendous obstacles to provide better lives for them and their families, both near and far.
This is generosity and sacrifice at one of its highest levels.
6) They keep an open-mind
The generous person does not discriminate when it comes to giving.
Sure, they might have their preferences in terms of advocacies, but generally speaking, the generous person will be willing to help anyone that they feel genuinely needs it.
Being able to give to a variety of people and causes is a clear indication of an open mind.
Whether you have different or similar backgrounds doesn’t really matter. Generous people embrace all people and are happy to help just for the sake of helping.
They’re not closed off from other people and their problems.
They understand that although everyone is different, we all have similar struggles. This is the human condition.
Last year, a super typhoon devastated the southern parts of my country. Towns and livelihoods were destroyed in a flash.
Our leaders declared it a national state of mourning.
But guess what?
International donations came pouring in almost immediately after, both from NGOs and foreign and private citizens.
Hundreds of volunteers from across the world flew in to help too. They weren’t paid; in fact, they covered all their flights, accommodations, and expenses through their own means.
These people have an open mind and are aware that suffering is universal. Their much-needed help in times of emergency reflects this mindset.
7) They trust others
Though many generous people are aware of this, they still have the habit of seeing the good in others.
They can read people and situations well and give what they can accordingly. Generous people aren’t too cynical when it comes to others and their intentions.
Some healthy caution is good but generous people aren’t constantly suspicious of being ripped off.
They think with both their head and their heart. And generally speaking, they have faith in humanity!
When they decide to give, they don’t audit that person like a tyrannical IRS agent; they trust deep in their gut that their generosity will go to the appropriate causes.
They ultimately see the good in the world and are hopeful for the future. The glass is almost always half full for the generous person.
This extends to their set of skills…
8) They’re generous with skills
Sometimes, when people have a good thing going, they prefer to keep it to themselves–this can be a delicious recipe or a skill not many people have.
Maybe to give you some access, they’ll charge you an unreasonably high fee or expect something in return for the so-called intellectual property.
Many times, they’ll keep it hidden altogether. But the generous person has no qualms about sharing their “secrets” with others…
Let’s say you’re starting a restaurant but have little experience. You have a friend who has experience as a restaurant manager or a chef with many solid recipes.
Instead of avoiding you, your friend actively helps you succeed by sharing their wealth of knowledge and expertise about the world of food operations and restaurants.
Now, this is proper generosity. You want everyone to triumph, particularly those close to you.
And when you decide to share things, that makes you an effective communicator…
9) They’re effective communicators
When we speak of generosity, this extends to how we interact and converse with others.
You’re an active listener and make the other person feel valued through your thoughtful comments, questions, and undivided interest.
You take the time to really immerse yourself in conversation and give the other person your full attention.
Remember, generosity isn’t limited to material things… being generous with your time is just as valuable, if not more. And it’s a virtue that won’t go unnoticed!
You aren’t easily flustered, turned off, or overwhelmed. You have an innate understanding of people and their shortcomings.
Where others may have given up on someone, you seek to understand and listen and hear what they have to say.
10) Generous people are grateful people
The thing about being generous is there is no class or income requirement; anyone and everyone can be generous if they want to be.
Rich or poor, generous people tend to also be thankful for what they do have, recognizing that not everyone is as lucky.
Their gratitude is all about perspective–one defined by selflessness, altruism, and charitabilty. They’re thankful for the blessings they do have in life, like a healthy family and food on the table.
I know people who barely earn a minimum wage but periodically go to the poorest parts of the city and give away food and supplies.
They may not have much themselves financially but recognize that there are those that have even less and so they decide to give. That’s generosity!
11) Generous people are tolerant of others
The generous are all about inclusion–one of the trademarks of a truly generous individual. They’re not shut off from the world, especially those that are different. Generous means tolerant.
Generous people have very few prejudices.
It doesn’t matter if they’re dealing with the busboy or the owner; the generous person treats them with equal amounts of dignity and respect.
It doesn’t matter if someone’s black, brown, yellow or purple, the generous person is happy to have a lighthearted chat at the bar and maybe even buy them a beer or three (or a mocktail.)
The generous person understands that everyone has their own unique experiences, and prefers to focus on our inherent similarities, rather than the petty things that divide us.
To recap, when you decide to adopt a generous mindset, you gain much more than you lose.
Generous people prioritize giving over accumulating material things. And remember: history is kind to generous individuals because they ultimately make the world a better place.