A program of The Mussar Institute 

Generosity Week
February 21 – 26, 2016

Generosity Week

Generosity Week – Day 3

Nance Cheifetz: “Giving is Love Moving”

For my 60th birthday, I challenged myself to do 60 deliberate acts of kindness for 60 consecutive days and write about my experiences each day. I learned that there is no separate “act” that can be called Kindness. I believe our true nature IS kindness and that when we are not acting out of fear (which is what manifests as self interest, greed, material competition, and not-enoughness) we act out of love. In that act of love, we are moved towards compassion and giving, and that is an endless and seamless stream, not an isolated act. We want people to be happy, to be fed, to be delighted, and so we offer up something that we might have to give and to share. It is just Love moving, and it acts on its own behalf.

Nance CheifetzI don’t feel like I have been the “giver” here. All of us will have things at different times in our lives to offer. Today, I might have something in my possession that I can offer you, and tomorrow things might be in your hands. We don’t own anything. Everything in our lives is a gift to pass on. It is a privilege to be able to share, and I am so, so grateful that I have had this opportunity. I have received far more than I could ever hope to give in this lifetime.

There is nothing that you can do that will make you happier than being generous in life. It is one of the greatest elixirs for what ails humans. We recently talked with school kids who shared their experiences of kindness— of asking for birthday presents to go to less fortunate kids, bringing gifts to hospitals and other things along those lines. When asked how it made them feel, they responded, “It feels so good you just want it to keep on going. You wish you just had more and more things to offer.” That is my experience as well. People are supporting my deepest happiness in allowing me into their lives.

This does not mean that you have to have money or anything tangible other than your human form. Each of us is endowed with our own unique qualities and each one of us has something valuable to contribute. I have seen the greatest acts of generosity performed by folks who seemingly have little. I was profoundly touched when a homeless man gently offered to share his meal with a friend when we ran out of lunches.

The other thing I learned is how suspicious we have become. When you offer up something for the sheer joy of it—cold drinks on a hot day, flowers on Mother’s Day, valentines, a compliment or a hot drink for a cold bus ride, we become suspicious. We are so used to being marketed to, or there being some angle. Most people back away from an offering, rather than move toward you. Once they get it, they shake their heads in delight.

I won’t be stopping here. Once you start this process, you find yourself looking around for the next person you can delight. It’s as if you don’t want someone to take this joy away from you.  May we see the time when all of us, no exceptions, are taken care of in the deepest ways and express our greatest potential as humans. We will then see a very changed outer world.

See a list of Nance’s 60 acts of kindness on the occasion of her birthday. Or follow her blog at http://kindnessacts.org/.

  • Look around you today. For whom could you do a small act of kindness? Try it. How does it feel?
  • When someone does an act of kindness for you, how do you feel?
  • Think of a kind person you know. How does thinking of that person make you feel? How do you think being kind makes them feel?
  • Is there anything that keeps you from being generous with kindness? What is it? Explore how that feels.

Please share your thoughts on The Mussar Institute’s Facebook page. If you prefer a more private experience, join our Generosity Week Facebook group.