I was fortunate to meet and marry the world’s most generous man. Sure, at first, he lavished me with fine dinners, expensive wines and, eventually, the precious stones in my engagement and wedding rings. But what truly sealed the deal was his generous spirit, undefined by money but motivated purely by the desire to share and please others. Fast forward ten years and our focus these day is on nurturing the same selflessness and generosity in our kids. Kids, who by definition, are self-interested. In the process of this journey, I am also trying to be more generous every day. And so can you. And you know what, it feels really, really good.
Here are nine suggestions for sprinkling some extra generosity into your actions each day to make someone feel special, acknowledged, happier:
- Say please, thank you, excuse me and you’re welcome: basic manners but quite often neglected.
- Listen. Actively.
- Open doors for people; this does not just apply to men (though some wonder if chivalry is dead?); you should hold the door open for anyone.
- Compliment someone on how they look, how they behaved, what they said.
- Make a phone call, write a letter or card, send a tweet, post on someone’s Facebook page, drop by – a simple ‘hi, how’s it going?” shows that you were thinking of them.
- Donate; clothes, toys, furniture. Face it, most of us own way more than we really need.
- Send/give flowers. Yes, OK, this involves money but who doesn’t love receiving flowers? Don’t wait for a birthday, anniversary, do it “just because.”
- Draw a picture for someone: this is my son’s favorite form of generosity. Here’s one he did for me recently that plastered a smile on my face for hours!
Please don’t take this post as “preachy” – I am just as bad as the next person. Our lives are all so incredibly busy and the urge to navel-gaze is natural. But being a parent forces you to examine your behavior and try to be the best role model you can possibly be – even in the midst of the mayhem of daily life. So choose generosity. If you are looking for further simple ideas about how to spread some kindness, check out this lovely list of 57 ways you can brighten someone’s day.