Generosity fundamental to a healthier life

  • Giving back: Toms founder Blake Mycoskie created the shoe company’s ‘buy one and give one’ model — for every pair of Toms sold, the firm donates a pair to an impoverished child (Photograph courtesy of Toms)

    Giving back: Toms founder Blake Mycoskie created the shoe company’s ‘buy one and give one’ model — for every pair of Toms sold, the firm donates a pair to an impoverished child (Photograph courtesy of Toms)

Last week I wrote about generosity and the importance of giving of ourselves from a place of wholeness and not depletion.

This week I want to highlight the importance of giving itself.

Authors Stephen Post and Jill Neimark detailed numerous studies in their book, ‘Why Good Things Happen to Good People’, that show that generosity is fundamental to a longer, healthier and happier life.

Meanwhile, some health practitioners and therapists have prescribed “giving activities” in recognition of their healing effects.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a talk on the power of giving by Cynthia Kersey, president of Unstoppable Enterprises and the Unstoppable Foundation.

A former corporate high flyer, she changed her life, first to author the ‘Unstoppable’ books and then to take up what she recognised as “her true purpose” — the challenge of providing every child with the right to an education.

“I realised we all have something to offer, something to live for,” she said. “It starts with the questions, ‘What can I do? Where can I give?’.”

The common consensus is that it is not so much the amount or size of the gift, but the way it is given: from a place of gratitude with no attachment to a return or response.

Yet there seems to be a natural reciprocity that occurs with giving, whether it is the health benefits, the feel-good factor or an actual return on investment, in many cases.

Kersey’s project reaped rewards through personal fulfillment, but she also saw a massive increase in her bottom line.

As her profile was raised, book sales increased and she began coaching businesses and individuals on giving as a corporate strategy.

She cited as an example the huge success of Toms, the shoe company that has donated ten million shoes and saved the eyesight of 150,000 people in more than 60 countries thanks to its “buy one, give one” model.

The company says that increasing numbers of customers are embracing the feel-good factor of doing something good while spending their dollars.

Suggestions for ways to give, personally or as a company, begin with aligning with a cause that inspires and represents your or your company’s values.

Ways to donate include partnering with charities, donating a percentage of profits/income, tithing, selling one and giving one (the Toms model), offering free services or mentoring to others.

Simple ways to give range from volunteering to listening, loyalty to forgiveness, supporting others, and standing up for what you believe in.

However we choose to do it, the evidence points to generosity being in our best interest. But while we want to be giving from a “full cup”, can we afford to wait until we have enough money or time?

How much is enough? One suggestion is to give away some of the very thing you feel is most scarce, with a full heart. We recognise our own abundance when we share it. Chances are it will come back around.

• Julia Pitt is a trained success coach and certified NLP practitioner on the team at Benedict Associates. For further information contact Julia on 705-7488,

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Published Jul 22, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 21, 2015 at 9:57 pm)

Generosity fundamental to a healthier life

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