A couple of weeks back, I wrote about an experiment I was conducting to see whether people were able to intuit a generous intent and promised to post my results here. Although it has only been two weeks, I’ve discovered that there are many payoffs in favor of practicing intentional generosity. Here are a few:
- It changes the way you see yourself. As I began to think about ways I could be generous with people, I noticed how much fun it was and I started seeing myself in a different light. It felt good. I got to be creative in finding ways to be of value and make a difference.
- It changes the way you see others. When you look at the people you work with or are friends with and begin understanding what is important to them, what they are working toward and how you might help, you realize how very much alike we all are. And the more you give freely to those you care about, the better the world feels. It becomes a friendlier place.
- It changes the way others respond to you. Even when they don’t know yet what you are doing on their behalf, people respond with astounding generosity. Even people in positions you don’t normally think of as having the capacity to be generous, share ideas and resources far beyond what is customary. They do seem to be tuned in to your positive intent, even when unspoken.
- It makes the day so much more fun. Remember a few years back when there was a lot of hoopla about performing random acts of kindness? This experiment reminded me of that, and how great it felt to feed someone else’s meter or buy coffee for the person behind me in the Starbucks line. But what I noticed was that it feels even better to help someone you know get something they really want, simply for the joy it brings you both…and the reciprocal nature of this is merely a bonus.
The experiment was successful (though not scientifically rigorous) in that it demonstrated to me that being truly generous with ourselves and others is a behavior that pays dividends on many levels: emotionally, spiritually, financially, to name a few. I intend to keep it as one of my best practices and certainly one that makes each day rewarding in unique ways.