That’s not benevolence, that’s people pleasing

Altman’s book on living kindness reminds us that true generosity does not leave us feeling cheated, elated or superior, but joyful and alive in the giving moment. 

That passage was especially painful for me to read. Because I’ve been guilty of misguided generosity on a several occasions. 

Years ago, I gave a sizable amount of money to someone to use for a down payment on her house. All the while, convincing myself that I was being generous. And maybe I was. 

But looking back, the whole transaction made me feel queasy. And even resentful. Because there was no joy there. The gift was conditional. The money was given begrudgingly, out of a codependent combination of obligation, guilt, pressure and manipulation. 

That’s not generosity, that’s trying to control another person’s behavior and emotions. That’s not a gift, that’s buying away conflict. And that’s not benevolence, that’s people pleasing. 

Fortunately, I’m finished beating myself about up that incident. No more judgment about being wrong, only acceptance about being unskillful. 

In fact, that experience actually helped me create a litmus test for future behavior. It’s a series of simple questions that anyone can ask themselves to evaluate how they acted in a certain situation. 

When you first decided to give this gift, did it come from a place of abundance or fear? When you delivered it, how did it leave you feeling? And had you chosen not to give that gift, would you have felt like a bad person? 

It’s the kind of reflection that won’t change the mistakes of the past, but it might help us prevent them in the future. 


How will you know if you’re projecting the ideal energy to be giving from?
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Scott Ginsberg

That Guy with the Nametag

Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

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