A Mean Man's Generosity is a Generous Man's Meanness

A Mean Man’s Generosity is a Generous Man’s Meanness

116. A mean man’s generosity is a generous man’s meanness.

Love this saying from Publius Syrus. This is the type of clever turn of phrase that makes you stop and think. Reminds me of something Mark Twain or Benjamin Franklin could have said.

So let’s see here — a mean man being generous would mean he is dishing out a lot of meanness. And on the reverse, a generous man being mean would also entail a lot of meanness, because he is generous and therefore generously gives it out.

Now on a serious note, building a reputation for being generous is a great thing to which to aspire. Others come to rely on us because we are solid and reliable. We will be there for them if they need us to lend a helping hand. They enjoy our company because we are generous with our possessions, with our time, with our assistance, and with our friendship.

This brings us to a good point — generosity does not just entail material goods. One can also being generous with their time. For instance, spending some extra time helping out a classmate or coworker with a difficult problem. This is great karma you’re putting out into the universe, and it feels really good to help someone out and watch them improve. You’re doing a good deed and using your knowledge and skills for the benefit of others.

One can also be generous with material things of course. Donating food or clothing to a charitable organization. Bringing lots of beer to a party. Sharing something of value with another, even if it might pain you a bit, but you know it will bring them great joy.

These are good vibes you’re putting out into the universe.


But back to the mean man being generous with his meanness. Dishing out pain and suffering with a magnanimous touch. What a jerk. Same goes for the generous man being mean — it is in his nature to be generous, therefore were he to be mean he would certainly dish out a lot of meanness.

A little bit silly and irreverent, sure, but not all moral sayings have to be sober. We can still take from this a reminder to be generous when we can, and to share our good fortune with others who are less fortunate. The universe will smile on us in return.

Until next time,


I’m gonna be pretty generous here in recommending this treasure trove of wisdom from the turn of the millennium (the one back in Roman times). Your future self will thank your present self for investing in your future.


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