“When the supermarket clerk tallied up my groceries, I was $12 over what I had on me. I began to remove items from the bags, when another shopper handed me a $20 bill.
“Please don’t put yourself out,” I told him.
“Let me tell you a story,” he said.
“My mother is in the hospital with cancer. I visit her every day and bring her flowers. I went this morning, and she got mad at me for spending my money on more flowers. She demanded that I do something else with that money. So, here, please accept this. It is my mother’s flowers.”Leslie Wagner, Peel, Arkansas.
Acts and stories like these are what become legends and anecdotal stories we recite to our kids before bedtime, showing what it means to give and help those who are in need. These become more elaborate with each recital. Characters acquire names and the gift becomes larger and larger, but the message remains the same.
We know giving is what makes the world go round. We have all chopped countless onions while watching compilation videos on YouTube showcasing acts of kindness and selfless giving. And somehow the emotions in the moving pixels are relayed through the glass and fill us up with all the warm feelings and not just overwhelming happiness, but also inject an industrial dose of concentrated joy.
We all know the feeling of happiness and joy. It is the reason why we gather friends, family, and the kids to make an event out of the newest Pixar movie release; It is why we continue watching those same tear-jerking movies with the feel-good endings even though we know it will ruin our mascara.
It is also the reason why we do anything, why we choose a life partner, choose a home, a lifestyle, career, etc. We do what makes us happy and gives us joy.
Tony Robbins has said multiple times if you’re having a bad day and want to change your state, do something for someone else and watch how it elevates your mood.
It’s also been said “If you want to become a millionaire, help a million people.”
While the correlation of giving and socioeconomic status may not be intrinsically intertwined, the ROI on giving, whether fiscally or emotionally is always a net positive, and let’s not forget how contagious it is.
Let’s say you’re in the drive-thru to pick up your coffee. You place your order, and sing along to the radio as you wait in line to grab your drink. You’re digging through your wallet to find your card or cash getting ready to pay for your order, and as you stretch out your hand to pay the person at the window, you’re told the car in front of you just took care of your order for you.
Surprised, your jaw drops and suddenly you are hit with feelings of gratitude and joy. The day just got brighter and your morning fog was quickly cleared with the selfless act. This random stranger who owes you absolutely nothing went ahead and treated you to your morning coffee. This is not a normal day for you and this act of kindness just set the tone for your day.
Well, you don’t want to stop the feel-good train…so you insist on purchasing the drinks for the person behind you. Now in an elevated state, you exit the driveway and make your way to the office. There is an extra strut in your step and everyone seems to notice.
“Oooo. Someone is in a good mood!”, a coworker comments.
“Oh my gosh! You will never guess what happened”, you respond and continue to tell the story.
Those good feelings and intentions don’t stop as you leave the driveway or finish telling the story to your coworkers.
That one act made your day and you paid it forward by paying for the person behind you. Who knows how many people in the line decided to pay for the person behind them? There is satisfaction in knowing that you made someone’s day and didn’t have to watch their reaction (witnessing it is merely an added bonus).
In a “worst case scenario”, you give or perform an act of kindness for someone and they respond in a less than ideal way or don’t respond at all. Still, you haven’t lost anything and have won everything.
The act of going out of your way to create and spread positivity bears fruit. There is no losing in giving and no one has ever gone broke from giving.
In the story above, the man was obeying his mother’s request to do something else with his money other than buy her flowers. While battling cancer his mother remained selfless and thought of others and it inspired him to help someone else and saw the act as “I’m buying my mom’s flowers.” It was the act of giving that gave them both their fruit.
In the next 48 hours, go out and make someone’s day. If you’re stopping by a coffee shop in the morning, pick up an extra latte for a coworker, pay for the person behind you, or if you’re more of a digital person…send them a gift card via a mobile app to their email address.