A Year of Living Generously

I’ve long despised the idea of making New Year’s resolutions, because they are usually overly ambitious and rarely last the month. But, I made one this year (which broke a previous one – “Never to make another New Year’s resolution”). I made this exception because I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of others in the past year. My last blog post about Mental Health provoked a huge amount of feedback and all of it was kind, generous, understanding and helpful. So, I decided to spend a year living generously. With my time, with my money, with my ideas, with my skills and so on. To share. To help. To make people happier. It’s not that I’m not a generous person anyway, I certainly can be, but I mean, this year, to do it actively and consciously.

At the end of last year, I read an article, while flying, about an idea called “Because I said I would.” The idea really struck home, and I made hundreds of the cards and gave them away to colleagues and friends. I like the concreteness of stating the idea, not just somehow having it as a part of a personal philosophy, but as an active statement of how I choose to live. So, combining these two ideas here is my new year’s resolution:

I promise to live generously in 2014

As a strong believer in the idea of ‘giving back’, I want to promote the idea of a “Year of Living Generously” more widely – I’ve created the hashtag on Twitter https://twitter.com/#YearOfLivingGenerously and I’d love to have others join in. All I ask is that you just use that hastag after doing something generous: it can be anything. You don’t (and this is important) have to say what you’ve done – though you can, just put the tag out there. It’s not a #humblebrag, it’s not about who can be the most generous, it’s not a competition. It’s just to remind ourselves to be generous in our daily lives.

Here are a few things that I’ve done in the past 9 days – I’m not saying it to garner praise, just to demonstrate what I’m meaning

  • Gave a shoeshine guy an extra tip because someone had been rude to him and he laughed it off and started singing
  • Left the change from $20 as a tip on a $3 coffee without the server seeing me do it
  • Sent a book to someone who expressed interest in it
  • Bought drinks for all the staff at my favorite sushi bar
  • Gave a $100 tip (wrapped inside the $10 fare) to a taxi driver who was upset because his meter had broken and he’d missed an hour of revenue getting it fixed – he was generous enough to talk to me about his life and why he drives a cab
  • Lifted bags into the overhead bins for other people on a flight
  • Fed parking meters with quarters when I’ve seen them expired with a car parked there
  • Left a $20 dollar tip at Starbucks because some moronic website has been set up to protest their stance on marriage equality

You can think of others, and really, they don’t have to be money, and they don’t have to be extravagant.

Giving your time, your skills, your ideas, your support, your kindness – all of these are perhaps even better than just giving money. It’s more about an attitude, to be grateful for the opportunity to be generous, not to do things grudgingly or with bitter resentment.

Do what you can to make a difference to the happiness of others, and do it generously.