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Targeting our generosity towards receptive people May 20, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Concept of personal development.
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Cultivating a spirit of generosity and empathy within ourselves can be a rewarding component of our personal growth and development program; but it does little concrete good if the recipients of our generosity and empathy do not value what we are offering.

It may make us feel good inside to be generous regardless of whether or not those who receive our generosity value it, but it is surely more productive and more of a win-win outcome if those who we are trying to help make an effort to utilize our assistance.

It’s like the biblical story of sowing or planting grain. If the seeds are placed in fertile soil, they thrive and grow. If they land in barren soil, they wither and die.

The ancient Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu tells the story of someone in the Chinese sector of Sung making interesting hats that they thought they would sell in Yueh. But because of the local customs of dress in that area, the people had no use for the hats. (1)

Chuang Tzu also relates a situation where someone planted a tree beside a lonely road, whereas the tree would have been better planted in a village, where it could have served a variety of productive purposes for the local population. (2)

Similarly, if we try to improve the condition of people who do not want our help; if we “try to plant seeds in barren ground”, there is not much likelihood of success.

You are working seriously in trying to pursue a path of self-actualization, self-development and personal growth, in part so you can reach your potential, be a better person and become more helpful to those in your circle of influence.

Don’t make it harder on yourself by trying to break through someone’s resistance to what you are offering.  Focus instead on those who welcome your generosity.

You could be offering your time, your advice, your insights, your talents. Place these where they will be appreciated and productive.

Try to please everybody – no one is pleased.

(1) and (2) Both story synopses are paraphrased from a translation of Chuang Tzu, by David Hinton in his book, The Four Chinese Classics

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