The Gift of Magnanimity

Quotes About Magnanimity

“We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

“If you happened to be born on third base, you didn’t rub it in the face of the guy who wasn’t even born in the stadium. Self-interest was generally checked at the door with your coat and hat.” ~ Ron Suskind

It would be judicious to act with magnanimity towards a prostrate foe. ~ Zachary Taylor

Where the Mind is biggest, the Heart, the Senses, Magnanimity, Charity, Tolerance, Kindliness, and the rest of them scarcely have room to breathe. ~ Virginia Woolf

A magnanimous person sees him/herself and the other person as they really are. Then he/she urges the best out of that person. As a result he/she brings out the best in him/herself. ~ C.P. Snow

What is magnanimity?

To be magnanimous means to have “greatness of the soul”  “high souled”-  rising above pettiness or meanness; generosity in overlooking injury or insult.   Other characteristics of magnanimity include:  A tolerance of another viewpoint without having smugness about one’s own.   The giving of one’s self or resources with no thought of recognition or reward.  Forgiving wrongs done to us with no thought of retaliation or recrimination.  In other words, to forget indignities and bear no grudges.  Other qualities are brotherly love and compassion.

To be clear magnanimity does not approve of wrongdoing, but it calls for understanding of the possible issues that caused the offense.   Nor does magnanimity suggest that the magnanimous one is more superior than others.   There is humbleness in being magnanimous.

Perhaps this poem describes it best:


He drew a circle that shut me out—

Heretic, rebel a thing to flout.

But Love and I had the wit to win:

We drew a circle that took him in.

by Edwin Markham

How to we apply magnanimity to our lives?

Of course our human nature natural response to a wrong doing imposed on us is to strike back.  As humans we have a tendency to go into “reaction” rather than stepping back –if not physically we don’t even step back in our minds and choose to apply magnanimity.    I am not saying that applying magnanimity is easy – but it can be done.

Possible ways of Applying Magnanimity.

Perhaps it’s a matter of “walking in the other person’s shoes”.  Recognizing that they are truly doing the best they can with what they have and with where they are in life.  Perhaps it’s “giving the benefit of doubt” or acknowledging to the person in a loving way – “it seem you might be having a rough day”.  It may even be choosing to see them as their Divine nature and not as their human behavior.   Perhaps it’s looking at them through a loving Higher Power’s eyes instead of our human eyes.

When we look at another person through our human eyes we add to it our judgments, disdain and our ideas of how they “should” be.  Instead if we choose to see others as a loving “Higher Power” would see that person we will have the tendency to bring in compassion, forgiveness and love.  Perhaps it’s even simply “blessing and releasing” them and sending them on their way – as in the next time someone cuts you off in traffic or jumps in front of you in the grocery line or when someone has a different political view than you.

 Share your Thoughts:

What is magnanimity to you?  How have you been magnanimous or plan to be? What have you experienced from others in regards to magnanimity?  Share your thoughts on my Facebook page or through an email on my website!   Or in comments on this blog!

To me I believe that magnanimity is best expressed by St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord make me an instrument of your peace
Where there is hatred let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon
Where there is doubt, faith
Where there is despair, hope
Where there is darkness, light
And where there is sadness, joy

O divine master grant that I may
not so much seek to be consoled as to console
to be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
For it is in giving that we receive
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned
And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life

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