What does a generous person look like?

Episode 39 in Part 3 of our Introduction series: Getting to know others.

Habits:  Giving | Positive Attitude

Skills:  Value | Self-confidence

Description:  In this episode, we take a look at generosity, in particular, the benefits that come from being generous We explain that generosity isn't just about giving away gifts or money, instead, there are literally hundreds of small things you can do to be generous to others. We also outline the 4 steps to practice generosity fully for greater self-confidence.

How this lesson might be discussed with your child

This episode discusses the various ways of being generous, in particular, focusing on how generosity doesn't require giving away money or gifts. We also look at the many benefits of being generous and, outline how generosity helps us to build stronger relationships with others, while also feeling better about ourselves.

Finally we present the 4 steps to practice generosity fully, as outlined by Lisa Firestone:

  1. Give something that is sensitive to the other person

  2. Accept appreciation

  3. Accept the generosity of others

  4. Show appreciation

In discussing this episode, some questions might include:

  • Why do you think generosity helps you build stronger relationships with others?

  • What are some examples of being generous that you think would improve your relationships?

  • Do you think that being generous can make you feel better about yourself? Why/Why not?

  • How has being generous in the past made you feel good about yourself?

  • Do you think it is difficult to be generous? Why/Why not?

  • What do you think might stop you from being generous?

  • What can you do to be more generous?

Some specific discussion points

Can you think of examples where one or more of your students has been generous with another student? How did this generosity improve their relationships? How did this improve the self-confidence or self-esteem of the student being generous? Can you use this example to demonstrate the benefits of being generous? 
As always, discussion of any literary works, historical figures, celebrities or current events featuring prominent individuals offers an opportunity to discuss how being generous can impact different people/characters? For example, the story of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol provides a simple explanation of the pros and cons that come with being generous. While there is a focus in the story of monetary generosity, Scrooge's attitude to the people around him also changes, making him more generous with free things like compliments and politeness.

Questions may include:

  • Can you think of someone (a celebrity, TV, movie or book character) who is consistently generous? Why them?

  • Can you think of someone who is generous with their time or other skills instead of just with money?

  • Does being generous improve the relationships of these people or characters? Why/Why not?

  • Does being generous improve their self-confidence or self-esteem?

  • Are there any other benefits that come from their being generous?

  • Can you think of someone (a celebrity, TV, movie or book character) who isn't generous? Why them?

  • What impact does their lack of generosity have in their life?

  • What do you think prevents them from being generous?

  • Is there ever a good time to not be generous? Why/Why not?

Discussing the quote from this episode:

"True generosity is an offering; given freely and out of pure love. No strings attached. No expectations. Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share." — Suze Orman

Possible areas of discussion may include:

  • Do you believe an act of true generosity has to be given freely with no strings attached? Why/Why not?

  • Why do you think Orman says that Time and love are the most valuable possession you can share?

  • What about sharing money or expensive items – are they not more valuable? Why/Why not?

  • Are there times when sharing other things might be more valuable than time or love? When?

  • Do you think it's difficult to give freely with no strings or expectations attached? Why/Why not?

Further information on this topic

If you'd like to dive a bit deeper on this topic, you might be interested in reading:

The Benefits of Generosity
by Lisa Firestone, The Huffington Post, 2014.

How to Foster Generosity in Students
by Vicki Zakrzewski, The Greater Good Science Centre, 2013.