“There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life – happiness, freedom, and peace of mind – are always attained by giving them to someone else.” – Peyton Conway March
How generous are you with your emotions?
Do you praise other people often? Do you praise other people at all? Are you more inclined to see people for their positive traits or are you constantly harping on their ‘flaws’? Do you give to others, without expecting anything in return? Do you seek to bring happiness and joy to others around you or are you just focused on making yourself happy?
Emotional Generosity and Emotional Stinginess
Emotional generosity – The act of giving positive emotions to others without expecting anything in return.
Emotionally generous people continuously brings happiness, love and positivity to others, without expecting anything in return. They are constantly thinking about how they can make others around them feel better. They love praising others, rewarding people, recognizing the talents in others, showing signs of appreciation, among other positive emotion inducing actions.
The opposite of emotional generosity is emotional stinginess.
Emotionally stingy people have a very meager and miserly mindset toward sharing and giving. They are reluctant to praise other people, often sizing others up to certain expectations before they are willing to express their approval of them. They are judgmental and critical of what others say, feel, think, act. They are selfish in sharing what they have; they would rather keep things for their own.
What leads to Emotional Stinginess?
Emotionally stingy people can be motivated to behave in that manner because of any or a combination of the following 8 reasons:
- Avoidance. Seeing other people happy makes them feel insecure and reminds them that they’re not happy.
- Misery. They are miserable on the inside and want people to be like them. After all, misery loves company.
- Self-righteousness. They feel a person do not deserve to receive any act of kindness from them until he/she really proves his/her worth or earns it.
- Selfishness. They don’t want others to experience what they have earned for themselves.
- Ego. Praising someone else means acknowledging he/she is superior and admitting they’re worse than him/her.
- Competitiveness. They see other people as a source of competition and don’t want to share what they have with their ‘competitors’.
- Fear. Offering an act of kindness to someone opens them up and makes them vulnerable. They are afraid of being humiliated if the kindness is not returned.
- Zero-sum mentality (a.k.a sum of all the gains in a situation are equal to losses). If they share what they have with others, it means they will have lesser for themselves.
If you look around you, emotional stinginess is a phenomenon that is common in our society today. Many people have been cultivated and conditioned to be emotionally stingy by their family, friends, schoolmates, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. This is because our average society vibrates at consciousness levels of Pride and below. At this level, the duality mindset is dominant. People are viewed as separate entities; scarcity mindset is the norm; zero-sum is the name of the game; ego drives our actions; it is all about winning and beating the competition.
Have you been around emotionally stingy people? People who are just so uptight about sharing what they have, dispensing compliments, giving encouragements, offering help, and so on? How does it feel? I have come across emotionally stingy people in my life and the truth is, these people just aren’t very enjoyable to be around. Being around them feels like being in an emotional vortex that just sucks up all your energy and leaves you with a dry and unpleasant feeling inside. It’s very draining. No matter how the person may look on the outside, you just feel that the person is ugly on both the inside and outside because its always such as negative experience.
Emotional Stinginess In My Life
Growing Up As An Emotionally Stingy Person
Truth is, when I was younger, I was really stingy with my emotions. It was basically driven by the very competitive side of me. Regardless of what the situation was, I always felt like I was in competition mode with people around me, a mentality that was fostered by schools, peers and parents and taken to the extreme level by my perfectionist persona. I wanted to ensure that I would be richer than everyone else in all aspects, emotionally, mentally, financially, and so on.
I also had a zero-sum view of life – I felt that if I were to share what I have with others, I would somehow have lesser of it for myself, making me lose out. When it came to praising others, that practically never happened because it felt like I was acknowledging others were better, which meant defeat in a certain sense. In retrospect, these were fear-driven mentalities.
The zero sum mentality extended into selfish behaviors. If I had something good, I would generally keep it for myself rather than share it with others. To me, the good things in my life were all outputs of my own abilities and labor – I had rightfully earned them and people around me should work hard to get them themselves if they want it. I was like the karma police, constantly assessing all the time whether people were deserving of my kindness, gifts, my happiness, my joy before I would share it with them.
However, instead of being kept in a better place from all my efforts, it basically just felt emotionally barren inside. I was overly critical, judgmental, and just plainly quite negative. In retrospect, it was such a tiring state to be in. It was probably very pressurizing to be around me as well.
The ironic thing was, I always envisioned my ideal self to be one rooted in kindness and I thought I was acting in line with that vision all along! In the context of what I was taught and what the society and everyone around me were expounding and doing, the emotionally stingy mindsets and behaviors I was adopting were perfectly normal and okay. At that point, it just never struck me that these actions were actually in complete opposition of those ideals.
My First Real Encounter With Emotional Generosity
During my internship at my ex-company 3.5 years ago in 2005 (the same one I recently quit from), I had a manager who was the most emotionally generous person I’d met in my life then. His priority was always the welfare of the people, rather than work. He would dispense extremely encouraging comments all the time and openly praise people whether the situation called for it or not. When I first knew him, I thought it was a little ludicrous and a tad over the top, because his praises just seemed unwarranted half the time.
However, I started to really look forward to our meetings, because I knew it would always be a positive and upbeat session. His gestures and generosity never came across as fake or insincere as well. I also noticed how everyone in the team would just really enjoy him as their manager. All-in-all, his positivity and continuous, outward flow of emotions made him a very magnetic and inspirational leader. I also came to know my Vice President, an extremely charismatic and strong leader herself, who was equally generous toward everybody in the company.
Have you ever crossed paths with such people before? The vibes they generate is just totally different from any other. It reeks of positivity, enthusiasm and energy that it just infects everyone around them.
For me, it was the first time I came into direct contact with such people and experienced for myself its life changing effects. It opened me up to an entirely different realm of kindness which I was never aware of and inspired me to be such a person as well. This experience planted in me a seed of doubt on the validity of the type of thinking and behaviors that I was inculcated, and whether they limited me from being the best person I could be.
Moving To A Life Of Emotional Generosity
2 years later in the same workplace, I got to know another colleague who really impressed me with his kindness and generosity. He was extremely nice and would go all the way out to help me, as well as other people, on any matters. What made it more remarkable was we were in unrelated roles and he had entirely no obligation to help me – much less to that level of magnitude. It was an extremely pleasant experience.
Coming into contact with such emotionally generosity again made me question my modes of thinking and behaviors. As I introspected, I tried to step outside of my subjective lens to view my mindsets and behaviors from a third party angle.
It was from this that I found out to my shock I wasn’t being the person I thought I was – in fact I was at the opposite end of where I wanted to be! By being emotionally stingy, I was acting in the same manner as the type of people who would repel me in real life. I was being the kind of person I would totally dislike. I was pretty much living in my own world all the while and never drew the linkage between my actions and their impact toward other people.
That revelation made me start to proactively act on how I could improve myself from within in terms of my empathy and compassion toward others. It marked one of my largest tipping points toward growth (another being when I discovered my purpose) and the largest turning point where I became someone who is genuinely driven by compassion for others; someone I respect and love.
Starting To Give And Share
From that moment onwards, I started focusing myself on treating people with unconditional love and kindness. I began to let go of my duality mindset – I stop seeing people as separate entities; instead I see them as a part of me, regardless of whether I know them or not. I dispensed positive acts of kindness toward everybody, whether the situation called for it or not. These people include everyone, from friends, colleagues, acquaintances, to even strangers.
The basis of these acts is never about whether they deserve it or earn it. None of it is ever done with an expectation of something in return. It is just giving with the sincere desire to see the someone else in a better place. I strive to treat others with positivity and generosity, consciously look out for the good in others and commend them on it, lend a helping hand, share what I have, go out of the way to lift up someone in need, and so on.
The Cycle Of Giving And Receiving
The incredible thing is, it feels really amazing. From all the giving and sharing I do, you would think I would have nothing left for myself at the end of the day. That isn’t the case at all. I am totally getting an overflowing abundance of positivity. No more of the emotional drain. No more being on edge, judgmental or critical. No more constantly having to assess whether people are deserving of my sharing or not. It is simply and purely just unconditional loving, sharing and giving.
The zero-sum theory does not seem to apply. Whenever I instill happiness and joy in others, I am given the gift of more happiness and joy. I am genuinely happy whenever I saw a fellow being in a better place. People also would more often than not respond in kind. I love it when people, especially strangers and emotionally stingy people, react to my acts with initial shock and surprise, but will quickly open up after that with their own acts of kindness. It is like the seeds of generosity had been planted in them. I also find that many people nowadays, even new friends, open up extremely easily to me.
Today, dedicating myself to helping people grow and live better lives boosts me up in ways nothing else can. If you are a regular reader, you would know this since I extol it all the time
Are You Emotionally Generous?
Look at yourself right now and think about how you think, act and behave on a daily basis toward others. Are you an emotionally generous person? Or are you emotionally stingy?
If you aren’t emotionally generous, try being so and see where it takes you. You don’t have to do anything that is huge or daunting. Just start off with a small act of kindness that puts people in a better emotional state -from a smile, a praise, an expression or gratitude, a show of concern, a random act of kindness, and so on. Do it with the genuine intention from your heart, without any expectations of return. As you do that, notice how you start becoming more positive and happier; you become driven by love, rather than ego or fear. Also notice how happiness seems to be of infinite quantity – it just seems like there is plenty to go around for everyone, and then there’s still more.
At the same time, with your acts of generosity toward others, realize that you are effectively planting little seeds of generosity in them too. Over time, notice how even the most emotionally stingy people will start giving back to you as well – they start moving toward emotional generosity, to the least of anyone’s expectations. It’s really a very incredible experience.
Start giving today and experience for yourself the abundance that it brings. It is by being emotionally generous, not emotionally stingy, that abundance in all areas of life is truly achieved, both for yourself and for everyone around you.