How to be Magnanimous

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso is the head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet and a magnanimous being in the truest sense of the word.

TO BE Magnanimous!!

This word, magnanimous, came across my computer recently from Word.A.Day. Usually I give the word of the day a quick glance and delete. But this particular word I saved in my inbox, pondering the meaning of magnanimous again each following day when I checked new emails.

I’d had a vague idea of the meaning of magnanimous; although it is not a word I could’ve ever imagined working fluidly into a conversation.

The meaning of the word, magnanimous– from the noun, magnanimity:

MAGNANIMITY, n. [L. magnanimitas; magnus, great, and animus, soul.] Greatness of mind; that elevation of dignity of soul, which encounters danger and trouble with tranquility and firmness, which raises the possessor above revenge, and makes him delight in acts of benevolence, which makes him disdain injustice and meanness, and prompts him to sacrifice personal ease, interest and safety for the accomplishments of useful and noble objects.

Or, in other words: huge-spirited, generous, forgiving, kind to those less fortunate, meets adversity with nobleness, courageous, unpetty and an inspiration to others.

Examples of magnanimous beings: Nelson Mandela, Jesus, Mother Teresa, St. Francis of Assisi, Martin Luther King and Ram Dass. The ages have provided us with countless others great souls who are worth emulating.

Why would any one of strive to be magnanimous in every day life? My prayer is that you already know the answer!

I cannot teach anyone HOW to be magnanimous. That would be like me telling you I am going to teach you Chinese (which I do not speak) or how to bake the perfect apple pie (which is beyond my capability), but following are five humble suggestions to help grow our spirits toward the grand benevolence and inspired generosity that so many revered individuals have epitomized throughout time.

Five Suggestions to Move Us Toward Living in a Magnanimous Manner

1.    Find, frame and keep displayed photos of individuals you truly admire and who exemplify authentic magnanimity and are/or have been a transformative force for good in the world. These images serve as mirrors in which reflected back to us is our potential to live in a magnanimous way.

2.    Memorize quotes from your favorite teachers or gurus.

3.    Read their biographies and their books, poems or journals.

4.    Make a pilgrimage to their place of origin, or a monument or shrine created in their honor.

5.    With a prayerful attitude ask these people to be your mentor and teach you about cultivating magnanimity and living large. (It doesn’t matter if the models are living or dead.)

It takes tenacity to bloom into our full potential and we need all the help we can get. There are hidden teachers walking beside us anyway, and we have the ability to add our own chosen few to the tribe if we so desire!

C.C. Jung, Milton Erickson, Jiddu Krishnamurti and Neem Karoli Baba are a few of my models for magnanimity, and over the past 30 years I’ve had one or all of their photos framed (not just taped to the refrigerator) and set out where I see their faces daily.

To whom do you look to teach you about elevating your soul, deepening your generosity and growing your courage?



  1. I sure like the guy at my church you greets me with a genuine hug (or 2) and always, always prays for his mom and his cat, Muddy.
    I love me some Jesus: love one another. Simple and pure.
    I love me some MamaT: You can do no great things. Only small things with great love.
    And I love me some of my very own mama for that single moment when I dropped, broke and spilled a brand new jar of apple juice in a glass container on the floor and she hugged me and said it will be okay.

    • Heather says:

      Thank you, Jenny for your thoughtful comment, and for reminding me that I had at least one moment of grace as a young mother. Love.

  2. And my prize goes to Uncle Bob; suffering from a slow destructive disease, strapped to a wheel chair and existing in a Veterans Home for 10 years now. Visiting with him is like breathing pure oxygen. We sip from a small flask, smoke a cigar and I can’t help but to always feel his essence as it vibrates thru atrophied muscles and sagging flesh, from the legs that no longer work and from that left arm that just gave up years ago. With a ready smile he wants to know how I am:weather I am working too hard and with an authenticity reserved for so few, he offers deep gratitude to me for taking the time from my life to remember his. When I return to the world I am OK, because Uncle Bob has filled my reservoir with purity and goodness and everything I need to give to others. God I love that man.

    • Heather says:

      We could all use the blessing of an Uncle Bob in our lives. Someday when you are visiting him in the Veterans Home, hold his hand, sip on the good stuff, puff away, and silently thank him from me for his love for YOU.

  3. Elise R. says:

    Each precious soul has limitless opportunities
    To further our own enhancement in life.
    Trust the process.
    And embrace all of your gifts as the child
    Within us all will guide us when we clear our
    Own paths<3
    And so it is.
    Sending you all positive blessings<3

Speak Your Mind