Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Power of Nice: What You Get When You Give

Giving is selfish. Sure, I give because I want to be others-focused, to make someone’s day and to help those in need. But, let’s face it, giving feels good. I, myself, seek happiness daily, and I simply love the warm feeling I get as I extend a smile, a compliment, a hand to friends and strangers alike. I personally find great joy in the concept that when we are the most genuine in our generosity (not in a grin-and-bear-it sort of way), we are the most rewarded.

Some friends and I have decided to live out this holiday season with intention. We will strive our hardest to pay attention to the people we encounter in every interaction and to meet their emotional and physical needs in any way we can. We actively seek out opportunities to forgive and extend grace when mistakes are made. We look for positive qualities to affirm in others. We look the person behind the counter in the eyes (at the supermarket, at the café, etc.) and engage them in real conversation. I have to admit - thus far it’s been incredible.  Here are some favorite highlights of what I've received - on top of the joy of brining happiness to others:

  • After smiling at and conversing with a bank representative – and authentically baring a bit of my soul in our conversation – he waived a significant fee for some banking services.
  • After some friendly chit-chat about the snowfall with a passerby while waiting for the bus this morning, I found out that he was about to shovel the sidewalk. When he came back with his equipment, the first thing he did was scrape the snow off the bus stop bench so I could have a seat.
  • After complimenting a Starbucks barista on his cheerful, friendly and positive demeanor, we engaged in a deep, rewarding discussion on faith and spirituality.
So, this holiday season, I’m not suggesting that you pursue generosity with a “what’s in it for me?” mentality. That simply won’t produce rewards. But I am suggesting that you find simple ways to pursue genuine generosity, and that by doing so, you might find the holiday magic and joy you’ve been seeking.

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