10 ways to tell if you’re a generous person (or a little selfish)

Have you ever wondered why Mother Teresa is so popular?

In a fast-paced age such as this – where we place a premium on working hard to earn our keep, where we aspire to be admired for what we have and what we do – generosity seems like a virtue that is falling out of step with much of the world’s attitude.

And yet, generosity is a highly extolled trait, gaining nothing but approval when displayed. 

We all know Mother Teresa as the epitome of charity and compassion. The impact she has made on the lives of people, especially those in need – the homeless, sick, and dying – is lasting. 

She formed soup kitchens, orphanages, a home for the dying destitute, as well as a leper colony.

The truth is,  we could all afford to be more like her.

If you’re on a mission to improve yourself, or if you’ve been called selfish once or twice and just want to know why, read on.

In this article, we’re going to look into 10 ways to tell if you’re a generous person, why it pays to be generous, and some types of selfishness that are disguised as generosity.

Without further ado, let’s jump in.

10 ways to tell if you’re a generous person

1) You find joy and pleasure in helping others succeed

It’s easy to follow the train of thought that if you give somebody else part of your resources, theirs grows and yours diminishes — this is simply untrue.

If you are generous, you understand that society’s resources as a whole, grows, from the success of its members.

Giving also has enormous benefits for your health: when you do something charitable, the brain releases feel-good chemicals, namely serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin.

Serotonin controls your mood, dopamine makes you feel pleasure, while oxytocin promotes a sense of connection with others.

Acts of generosity also promote lower stress levels, longer life expectancy, and lower blood pressure.

It also gives you what is called a ‘helper’s high’: when you give, the reward center of the brain releases endorphins, which increases self-esteem, feelings of happiness and fights feelings of depression.

2) You believe that changing one life makes all the difference

One of the ways to tell if you’re a generous person is understanding that no single person can change the world on their own, but that changing one life at a time is difference enough.

Oftentimes, we think, “Why bother?” even when faced with the chance to be generous. But generous people believe that making an impact on even just one person’s life is well worth your effort.

3) You see better ways to use your money

When you are financially blessed, you’re in a good position to be charitable.

One of the ways to tell if you’re a generous person is when you use your overflow to help make dreams come true.

One important thing I learned from my husband’s grandmother is that when we receive blessings, we are given the responsibility to share them with others.

As a generous person, you might use your extra money to give back to the community – make it a cleaner and safer place; provide people with basic needs; or even provide jobs for those who need them.

4) You’re content

As a true giver, you’re satisfied with what you have.

In fact, you’re motivated to give more than you already have, and you want to keep doing it.

You’re free from material attachments, leaving you unburdened by the addictive need to have more.

You’re also able to live without the extraneous things in life (like fancy cars, multiple homes, and designer items).

Sometimes, they are even happier than those who have all these creature comforts.

5) You ask what you can do for others

Another way to tell you’re a generous person is when you ask others how you can help them, without being asked.

Driven by the spirit of generosity, you actively look for ways to positively impact others is among the ways.

This is because you understand that not everybody who needs help will ask for it readily, so instead, you give it unbidden.

6) You’re very patient with others

Patience is a virtue – and I suppose it really is, when you connect it to generosity.

As a giving person, you believe in the best in people around you, even if sometimes it takes time for them to believe it themselves.

Showing patience and expressing your belief in others is a facet of generosity simply because it tells others you care.

7) You recognize other people’s strengths

When you observe other people, you tend to notice their qualities, good or bad.

But as a generous person, you spot the things that other people are good at — and here’s what sets you apart – you praise them for it.

It doesn’t take much to throw a compliment someone’s way, and it’s a move that would never fail. Think about it — have you ever received a compliment that made you feel bad?

Recognizing someone’s hard work and giving them praise are among the ways to tell if you’re a generous person.

From something as simple as making someone’s day, it can even inspire others to do better or pay it forward – and therein lies the power of generosity.

8) You give opportunities to others

The truly charitable know that generosity isn’t limited to material wealth.

You can be generous by providing others with opportunities that they would otherwise not have access to.

The opportunities can be work-related: for instance taking point on a high-profile project; or personal: such as inviting someone to a class or a trip, thereby increasing their chances of finding a new passion or gaining a new worldview.

This ties back to our first point about how many of us instinctively believe that when others gain, we lose, whereas generous people don’t see it that way.

9) You give tough love

When necessary, you tell others the truth even if it could sting them.

Though it doesn’t seem like it, this is one of the ways to tell if you’re a generous person.

Underneath the criticism or the feedback lies concern for that certain person’s potential – a path to tread from the person they are to the person they could still be.

After all, we could all use someone to watch our backs as we go through this world.

10) You give respect

People are different.

Some people are gregarious, some are outgoing, some people are brilliant at work, while others? Not so much.

And yet, you give respect to everyone, regardless of status or ability.

Being able to respect each and every person, and not only your peers or superiors is one of the ways to tell you’re a generous person.

How do I know if I’m actually being selfish?

Some things appear as acts of generosity but are actually selfish.

The Martyr

There is such a thing as giving too much. People who do this tend to constantly remind those they help of their sacrifices.

They offer their help, but when accepted, they complain. martyrs don’t set boundaries, leaving them giving too much, without leaving enough for themselves.

They give as a way to feel good about themselves, bemoaning the fact that they are underappreciated, which is a selfish thing to do.

The flood-giver

Then there are those who give and give without allowing you time to breathe.

They give even without you asking.

This creates an imbalance in your relationship, as it makes you feel guilty for receiving so much from them, making you feel like you owe them.

The people-pleaser

These are people who find their worth in giving.

They are motivated to do it not because they really care about the needs of others, but because they believe it is the way they can be loved or valued.

The give-and-taker

This type of generosity is selfish because the giver keeps score of what s/he has given.

Much like Don Vito Corleone, they expect repayment or balancing out of giving.  

The bottom line

A generous person gives financially and of themselves.

What sets them apart from others who just want to be praised for being generous is that they are motivated by the needs of others, not their own interests.

Being generous encourages you to earn your living according to your values, and use your resources in moderation, with any excess going to others who need it more.

it also helps you develop a healthy attitude towards money and wealth. People say money is the root of all evil, but it’s actually how you use it that makes the difference. When you have the right attitude towards money, you understand that it’s a means to get what you need – food, shelter, for instance – and not the goal itself.

As I mentioned earlier, generosity isn’t also simply a matter of money. You can have no material wealth to give, but you can be generous with your time, knowledge, or effort. You can volunteer at shelters, elderly homes, schools, or even in your own home or at work.

There are many places for you to pour your generosity, all you have to do is look.

Louise Logarta

Louise Nichole Logarta is a content writer by profession, with experience crafting feature articles, editorials, and news articles. She has been published in noted Philippine broadsheets Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Manila Times. Topics of interest she likes writing about include relationships, current affairs, health, and pop culture. Travel, journal notebooks, fiction books, and iced coffee are some of the things she enjoys.

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