“Generosity accelerates the free flow of everything positive in your life” says psychiatrist Judith Orloff MD, in her book Positive Energy. She continues: “Wedded to generosity is the concept of service—a giving of yourself to better the lives of others, your community, the world. It’s an attitude and an energy which perpetuates abundance.”
“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.”Eleanor Roosevelt
While in that context it all sounds pretty academic, when you think about it on an individual level, doing something kind for someone else almost inevitably makes us feel good. If we get a positive response, it perpetuates a positive cycle. If we don’t, well we can be safe in the knowledge that we did our best.
As children we love Christmas and birthdays because we love receiving gifts. As adults, we quickly learn that much of the joy of these occasions is in the giving. We think about someone and what they would like. Then the moment of joy comes in their reaction when they open their presents. It’s a token to signify care or love.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”Winston S. Churchill
Of course, what we also know as we get older is that we don’t always have to give ‘stuff’. In fact some of the most generous acts of kindness and care come in the form of actions. We see it everyday if we look around.
The parent who spends every day teaching their child the same lesson until it sticks. The adult children looking after ageing parents. Even simple good manners; getting your colleague a cup of tea when you get one for yourself. It’s a sign of care, of love, of thinking of someone other than oneself.
“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”Albert Einstein
What is easy to forget as we race to catch the train, get to the supermarket before it closes and finish the never ending list of tasks on our to do list, is just how liberating quiet, random acts of kindness can be. Something as simple as smiling at someone on the train (in a non creepy kind of way). Helping someone struggling with their bags at the station. Or sending flowers to a friend, just because.
In fact, often it’s the random acts of kindness that generate more happiness than the expected ones. They don’t just make the recipient feel good, they’re freeing for us as well. They pull us out of our own little bubbles of self interest and, as Orloff says, create a flow of positivity.
This Sunday it’s Random Acts of Kindness Day. So be kind, be random, to yourself and to others. You don’t need any more of an excuse than that.
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