At my firm, we encourage team members to keep an eye out for opportunities to perform simple, meaningful, random acts of generosity for clients and colleagues. Those acts have ranged from forwarding articles that a client might find interesting to chipping in as a team to rent a Corvette for a coworker celebrating a milestone birthday.
For this exercise, we’re taking a page out of the five-dollar generosity-experiment playbook. For the next thirty days, set the goal to perform at least one deliberate but unexpected act of generosity each day with the conscious intention of surprising and delighting the recipient.
Once you start paying careful attention, countless opportunities will present themselves: an ice cream cone for the office receptionist on a hot afternoon, a chocolate placed on your spouse’s pillow before bed, a five-dollar tip for the barista who makes your cappuccino each morning, a pair of warm socks for the homeless person you pass every day near your office. Choose the same recipient every day or mix it up. Select someone in your inner circle or a complete stranger.
There’s no limit to the creativity you can invest in these acts of generosity, but limit your spending to five dollars or less per day (in keeping with the study “Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness”). Since spending five dollars on someone can be just as rewarding as spending twenty, focus on your intention rather than on whatever dollar amount equates with generosity in your mind. Even giving a dollar can be a generous act, depending on the circumstances — such as if you pay the bus fare for a woman wrestling with a stroller and two small kids as she flounders for her wallet. Generosity isn’t about how much we spend, in other words, it’s about the doing. It’s mindfully taking the time and effort to extend kindness to a fellow human.
List each act of generosity in your notebook. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to start a running tab of potential random acts of generosity you can commit if and when the time is right.