What do we think of when we think of generosity? We all aim to be good people, right? I mean there are those of you out there that just have it nailed… you genuinely know how to spread love and kindness. For some of us though, we have that intention but we don’t necessarily always follow through. Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons… or should I say excuses. There’s not enough time, it slipped our minds, we were too busy. For myself personally, I tend to be quite selfish. I love loving on people, but I am also a person who is selfish with their time. I only have so much of it – with my kids, with my stepchildren, with my husband, in the day… yada yada yada. It is sacred to me. Knowing your priorities is a good quality, and I feel confident in what is important. But I admit, I get too caught up in what’s happening in my life, in front of my eyes, that I drop the ball on one of our greatest missions, which is to simply love people. People outside my tunnel vision.
Recently, I was treated to a random act of kindness that really filled my heart. And that got me thinking.
I was out to dinner with my friend, Theresa. It was a spontaneous, impromptu ask… I was driving home from Seattle – had a meeting at my son’s school and had some time to kill before it started. She works in the same building, and it seamlessly came together for us to connect at our favorite Thai restaurant. I got to the restaurant and while I was waiting for her, a couple walked past me and sat down close by. Then in walked Theresa, I gave her a hug and ran off to use the restroom. When I returned, we resumed our conversation and enjoyed a great meal together. The couple got up to leave and Theresa waved goodbye to them. She proceeded to tell me that they attend our church and she had said hello to them while I was in the restroom.
We continued with our other conversation, which included some intense financial conversations as she has always been a mentor figure in my life and in pursuit of strong financial goals, I find great support and wisdom in her counsel. As we were wrapping up – a waitress walked by and said “someone has taken care of your bill, your all set!” Excuse me? WHAT??? Theresa looked at us and said, “It had to have been my friends!”
I know that this is not a story you have never heard before. But here’s the deal… it’s not that often that I am on the receiving end of this type of thing. Yes, I can remember dinners when I am with family or friends, and we take turns treating each other. Which is super kind, and a treat in itself. But I cannot remember, if ever, a complete stranger has bought my meal before. This couple has never met me. They didn’t meet me that night, and I ate a lavish meal and walked out without spending a dime. I was floooooored that someone would do that for me. I was hit with this incredible sense of gratitude and thankfulness.
A small act of generosity by this couple, has made a lasting impact on me. It posed two questions specifically…
- I already know it’s better to give than to receive. So… why don’t I give more?
- People don’t have to be struggling in order to benefit from generosity. Kindness and generosity is appreciated regardless of what walk you are in.
In this scenario, I was greeted with generosity through a stranger. I don’t want to discount how important and the amount of love I feel when my family or friends do something incredibly thoughtful as well. I could literally go on and on with how loving and generous the people are in my life… But I am here to discuss how I can be more generous and kind within myself.
I’ve listed 5 ideas below for loved ones and 5 ideas for strangers. I have these written down next to my calendar so when I am looking at my day ahead or week ahead, I can refer to this list and pick something to be purposeful and intentional about.
Generosity Towards Our Loved Ones…
- Write a card. A handwritten one. And actually mail it.
- When someone pops into your head and you find yourself thinking about them – quickly send a short text or call (if you have the time) and let them know your thinking about them.
- When someones needs something of you… lend the couple of hours, or half day, or even full day to helping them… move, remodel, reorganize…. whatever is strenuous to them, is that much less of a burden by having you by their side.
- Turn your phone off and give someone… your husband, children or friend… your undivided attention.
- Make dinner for someone… or a drop a dessert on someone’s porch with a short note. It could even be anonymous.
Generosity Towards Strangers…
- Buy someone a meal or a coffee.
- Ask someone how their day is going… strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know…Be interested in learning who they are.
- Compliment 3 people just because.
- Help a mother… by opening a door, or grabbing her groceries. As moms, we all want to be capable. But you know what? When someone offers to help me when I have a baby in my arms and kids in tow, and a ton of groceries, it makes my heart shine to have someone lend a hand. I’m not asking for it at all, but it sure is simply a cool thing to do. And believe me, it does NOT go unappreciated. In turn, help ANYBODY. An elderly person, a child, another person your age. It doesn’t matter. Be kind to those around you and you will be surprised at how well it is received.
- Smile, make eye contact, and acknowledge the person you are standing next to. Sometimes just the simple act of being treated well is enough to treat someone else well.
There are a ton of different ideas out there on how your generosity can make a difference… this is just a start! Start here, and see where you go! What else can you think of?