Stories of Kindness from Around the World

Doubling the Gifting

--by pkiracofe, posted Nov 27, 2010

Having experienced the joys of giving small gifts to others through regular random acts of kindness, I have increasingly questioned whether I was truly being generous or whether I was seeking ego-gratification or some sort of karmic credit to justify living an otherwise ordinary life.  To test this concept, I asked myself if I would be just as generous if the acts were truly anonymous, and I would receive no credit.

In seeking out those opportunities, an even more interesting challenge arose - providing random strangers with the opportunity to gift acts of kindness.

The first experience was as a restaurant in Times Square with a pre-fixe lunch that included dessert.  I did not want any dessert, so I asked the waiter to find another customer and tell the customer that he was offering a free dessert as a random act of kindness.  I specifically made sure he did not mention me or the circumstances, as I wanted him to receive full credit (after all, he could have simply eaten the dessert himself).  We got to see him make the offer to a group that looked like tourists, who were clearly shocked, and the smile on his face afterward was priceless.  We left a generous tip and departed.

The second experience was at an airport in Minneapolis.  I was traveling with my girlfriend, and we had been delayed on two separate flights, which had led to significant scrambling and inconvenience.  The airline gave us two $20 food vouchers, but we had already bought food as we ran through the airport trying to make the connection.  We decided to enjoy a bottle of wine during our four-hour delay, only to discover that the vouchers could not be used for wine.  So switching into generosity mode, we asked the waitress to find some other customers and offer them the vouchers, without mentioning who the vouchers came from.  She came back so inspired by the experience that she wanted to give us complementary glasses of wine.  We promptly invited her to gift those as well, and departed for our flight!

Sadly, I can not report that I have found a way to *not* feel gratified about these acts, so perhaps I am still acting with selfish motivations.  That said, it is interesting to see that the act of giving is a gift in and of itself, and by adding a "surrogate giver" into the chain, the resulting good feelings have effectively doubled with no additional "costs" - not a bad ROI.

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Readers Comments

happy7 wrote: What an inspiring story. Keep up the good work. You are making a difference in the world and we need more people like you. God bless you.
L.A wrote: To be an example and inspiration to one another in this world is what most people have forgotten, so to do it openly or anonomously, whatever feels like the right thing to do, is never a bad thing, but about laying a law for a better society; don't you think? . It is good to feel possitive emotion through giving and if being happy is the consequence, then i am all for it. As feelings of resentment, anger, or jealousy are not sentiments that make the world seem a nicer or better place to live. Niether would it enrich or enpower one's own life too. So by giving in any form, as long as it isn't soley for gratitude or praise, can be so much better than recieving, and more rewarding in many ways, of which then inspires you to pass it on to others. **remember ** in giving, it doesn't need to cost a thing; to give an acknowledement or word of praise, to spare a moment of your time to listen to someone or talk to them, or just a smile to someone in need, can make a world of difference to that person, at that given moment.

bookworm58 wrote: I loved your story very much. It is inspiring me to do the same over the holidays.
serveothers wrote: Yes, doing these kind acts we might feel selfish but this is a good one. As my 3 year daughter once said "you have to like yourself before you like someone else". So i think doing good and feeling good about it a wonderful experience. Don't feel guity. Today i am determined to perform some kindness act.
Puppatina wrote: I would rather feel good for helping someone or making them happy than for buying a flat screen tv or a new pair of shoes!
coffeebug wrote: I loved your story. Keep up the good work :)
smileon wrote: I love your story and all the comments that followed. I used to only give anonymously, and sometimes i still do. But i recently heard someone say " you should give openly because it teaches others to give". Not everyone has the gift of compassion and they need to see it done from others and hopefully learn from it. Thank you for sharing:)
pluto178 wrote: I have to say i have become more aware of the sense of myself when helping or giving and i too have started to try in most cases to do random acts of kindness to people who cant thank me personally. I too report it still feels good but i dont have to worry people might think i am doing it for ego sake. Some things like helping family or neighbours when they are sick are one to one and this is impossible to change but when they thank me i say no thank you for letting me help i love the buzz it gives me. I am thinking of other ways to give without receiving thanks and thats just as exciting and really is random. Keep up the good work i loved your story. x
jd wrote: My favorite (and most challenging) way to give is to give - or commit a random act of kindness - without knowing of, or seeing the outcome
ironlady48 wrote: What's wrong with enjoying and taking pleasure in doing good? We tend to repeat what feels good and not do what doesn't so perhaps we were designed to be rewarded with positive feelings when sharing. Whether you give directly or via another, keep setting the example.

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