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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Humanity and the Healing Power of Generosity and Gratitude

Dec 01, 2023 12:01PM ● By Dan Kimball
As we approach the end of the year, the air turns crisper, the days shorter and the spirit of the holiday season starts to light up the atmosphere. December, with its festive spirit, reminds us of the joy in togetherness, the warmth of connection and the virtues that make us deeply human. In the realm of positive psychology, humanity is more than just a characteristic of mankind; it is a virtue comprising character strengths such as love, social intelligence, kindness and generosity. Alongside these, gratitude stands as a pivotal element of our well-being.

Generosity: The Kindness That Keeps on Giving
Generosity, the quality of being kind and giving, is a character strength that lies at the heart of positive social interactions and personal fulfillment. It is not just a transaction of giving, but an exchange that enriches the giver as much as the receiver. Studies in positive psychology have shown that acts of generosity are strongly linked to increased well-being.
This doesn’t only apply to grand gestures or financial giving; generosity can manifest in simple acts like sharing a genuine compliment, offering your time to listen to a friend or volunteering in your community. During December, the opportunities to practice generosity multiply. It is the time when people are more open to acts of kindness, and the collective mood inspires us to reach out and share what we have. In this giving, we are not just contributing to others’ happiness, we are also reinforcing our own.

Gratitude: The Heart’s Memory
Gratitude, on the other hand, is a reflective practice that allows us to appreciate the value of something and to express this appreciation. It is the heart’s memory, acknowledging the goodness in our lives, often as a result of the actions of others. When we practice gratitude, we shift our focus from what is lacking to what is abundant.
Positive psychology research has found that regular practice of gratitude can lead to greater life satisfaction, higher levels of optimism and an overall sense of well-being. In December, when we reflect on the year gone by and look forward to the new one, practicing gratitude can be particularly impactful. It allows us to close the chapters of the past year with a sense of peace and start the new one with hope.

The Interplay of Generosity and Gratitude
The interplay between generosity and gratitude creates a virtuous cycle that enhances our sense of humanity. When we give generously, we often become the recipients of gratitude, which in turn makes us feel more connected and happier, fueling further acts of kindness. Likewise, when we feel grateful, we are more likely to be generous, perpetuating a cycle of positivity. In this festive season, let us embrace our humanity by engaging more deeply with our ability to give and our capacity to appreciate.

Here are a few ways to nurture generosity and gratitude:
• Volunteer your time: Whether it’s helping out at a local food bank or simply offering to run errands for an elderly neighbor, give the gift of your time.
• Express appreciation: Make it a habit to tell people what you appreciate about them, not just in December but all year round.
• Keep a gratitude journal: Take a few minutes each day to write down what         you are thankful for. It can be as simple as a sunny day or as significant as the  support of a loved one.
• Gift experiences: Instead of traditional presents, consider gifting experiences  that create memories and deepen relationships.
• Practice mindfulness: By being present in the moment, you become more        aware of the opportunities to be grateful  and to give generously.

As the year ends, let’s remember that the real gifts of the season are the good qualities we have in our hearts. Generosity and gratitude aren’t just for the holidays—they are strengths that make us better people. Let’s keep these qualities alive throughout the whole year. By embracing these virtues, as highlighted by positive psychology scholars, we can illuminate the present, as well as every day of the new year, with warmth and fulfillment.

Dan Kimball, founder of Path4Change, has developed a new strengths card deck, the Optitron Card Deck, which features other character strengths and virtues identified by positive psychology. The deck is a creative and interactive tool that helps individuals identify and harness their unique strengths and virtues. These cards shift the focus from problems to strengths, encouraging a positive and empowering approach to personal development. They can be used in various settings, including therapy, education, personal growth workshops or for personal self-improvement. Learn more at

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