As a psychiatrist, my job is to help people heal emotional blocks and create abundance in every area of their lives. That's why in my book Positive Energy I describe how generosity is a key element of emotional health and abundance. Generosity accelerates the free flow everything positive in your life. Of course, when it comes to finances a good job, smart investments and saving wisely are important. But beyond these essentials, the secret is to be generous, whatever your net worth.
Generosity is an expansive energy. As Norman Lear told me in an interview for the book, "You receive as you give. But you have to expend energy to get energy. Electricity happens from rubbing two wires together. That's what giving does for me." Stinginess is constrictive. If you're on the cheap side, don't worry. But wake up! Realize it's a huge drawback; take contrary action. How? If someone gives you a nickel, give them a dime. Gradually, try to let go of the tit for tat mentality, a small-mind approach that sabotages abundance. Be the bigger person -- that's generosity. Also, help people out. Charities, tithing, donations. Give what you can; it doesn't have to be a lot. Feel the growing sense of abundance it produces, an energy which circulates far and wide. It'll find its way back to you. Maybe you'll win a jackpot, or perhaps you'll just feel better about yourself. However generosity plays out, you can't lose.
Dare to be unconventional in your giving. Rise to the opportunities presented. For instance, this holiday season I was delighted to read about anonymous donors who are paying off strangers' layaway accounts at Kmart! Recently, while I was waiting for Chinese takeout, I had a chance to give, too. A woman had ordered dinner but had forgotten her wallet. I felt the impulse to pay for her. Should I? Shouldn't I?
Thank God my mouth opened before getting mired in that mental debate: "Please let me get the bill," I offered. She lit up, "Oh my God, you're Judith!" Surprised, I said, "Yes." She went on, "Years ago, I saw you for one session. You helped me leave an abusive husband!" Though I truly hadn't recognized her, I'm a lover of synchronicities. "Amazing," I thought. She was smiling. I was smiling. The cashier was smiling. All around, good karma. And it took so little to get it going. Later that week, I received a check for the 20 dollars she'd accepted, along with a lovely thank-you note.
My point isn't to be self-congratulatory, though I'm glad I didn't talk myself out of giving. My aspiration is to encourage you to push past social norms. Jump on all chances to be generous, large and small. If you're shy, try to do it anyway. Personally, I get a charge out of anonymously leaving cash in public places. I first got the idea when eating breakfast at a diner in Manhattan. In a flash, it occurred to me, "Why don't you leave five dollars in the bathroom? Someone will find it and feel lucky. Then they'll believe anything's possible." I replied to myself, "Okay, why not?" Now, whenever I get the hankering, I leave a dollar here, five dollars there. Not much, but just enough to get people thinking. Being a self-anointed money gnome brings me great satisfaction.
In this spirit, here's an exercise to stretch your limits of generosity:
Make Changes Now. Create Abundance By Anonymously Leaving Money For People to Find
(From Positive Energy)
At the location of your choosing, leave some money there -- any amount that feels comfortable -- but don't get found out. It can be anywhere. A hallway in your dermatologist's building, on the sidewalk, in a potted plant. I want you to experience the high of this. I consider it delightfully subversive and mischief making. I bet you'll feel happy leaving money too. Repeat this exercise as much as you like.
Let's make it our business to keep reinventing the meaning of generosity. In the area of money, we must be mavericks in what can seem like a spiritless wasteland. Money is what you make of it. Whether you have barrels or not, you don't need to be extravagant to have fun. I promise: those control-freak misers with 20 million bucks stashed away aren't having a good time or prospering. No reason to envy a scrooge. Much better is to adopt this Buddhist saying as a motto: "Your happiness is my happiness. There is no greater happiness in the world." Abundance begets abundance, an energetic prescription that'll attract prosperity of many kinds to you.
HuffPost Lifestyle is a daily newsletter that will make you happier and healthier — one email at a time. Learn more