You really did them a charity! "How charitable of you!" We say such things to applaud kindnesses - but what does it really mean? Generally, charity is known less as the inclination toward kindness that it describes than as the action that it engenders.
Charity is also the act of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, the giving of money or of aid, the being generous and full of sympathy and understanding. Charity can be giving your spare change to a homeless person, or writing a check to an organization that does research on medicines for sick children. Charity can be spending time with lonely elderly people, or it can be offering sympathetic words to someone who is having a hard day.
The translation of your sense of charity into action can be as small as letting someone cut ahead of you in traffic when you are in a rush, or as large as a million-dollar donation to an organization that provides disaster relief or any number of other public services. There are innumerable opportunities every day to put charity into action.
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|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|