by Steve Rizzo
This morning I was at my favorite table at my local Panera Bread restaurant when an elderly couple walked in. They both had gray hair, and the woman was wearing a soft pink sweater under her coat. I noticed when they got in line, they were holding hands and showing obvious affection to one another. It touched my heart. I watched them for a while, thinking about my own future.
I spoke to the manager and told her that I wanted to secretly pay for the couple’s breakfast. “Just tell them someone anonymous was in a low mood today and watching them being so affectionate with one another lifted my spirits,” I said.
When the manager told them the news, I pretended to be engrossed in my writing. From the corner of my eye, I could see the couple looking around trying to figure out which out of the many patrons was the mysterious person who paid for their meal. In truth, it gave me a warm fuzzy feeling to do it — to honor them for the joy they’d given me.
Giving not only benefits the receiver, but also the giver. It’s an activity that makes us realize that we’re all connected. That connection plays a big part in making the world a wonderful place to be — whichever end you’re on. I know I always feel happy when I’ve done something nice for someone, so I actively look for opportunities to give.
It doesn’t matter what you do for someone else or the economic value of what you give. Just take the initiative and perform an act of kindness for someone (even a stranger) and notice how you feel.
Here’s an example: the next time you’re walking through town and notice a parking ticket on someone’s windshield, go over to the car, yank that sucker off, rip it up and throw it away! Why should that person have to pay for that? See? You feel better already, don’t you? (OK, not really!)
All joking aside, the best way to give to someone is without expectation that you will get something in return. The reward for giving or an act of kindness is a simple, but powerful, sense of joy. When I do something nice for someone, I hear the lyrics of the late, great Louis Armstrong stuck in my head: “And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.”
Once I was at a departure gate at an airport in Dallas, waiting to go back home to New York. I was having a conversation with three Marines who had just returned from Iraq when the gate agent informed them she had tried to get them an upgrade to first class, but unfortunately there were no seats available. Flying coach was such a trivial concession that it was an easy decision to make. You should have seen the looks on all three Marines’ faces when two other passengers and I gave up our first class seats as a gesture of appreciation for their service.
It goes without saying that the looks on those soldiers’ faces were well worth giving up a little leg room, but you should have seen the looks on our faces when we deplaned and saw all three Marines standing at attention saluting us!
What you give from your heart comes back to you in one way or another. To have more joy, make the activity of giving a habit. Watch for opportunities to give — they are all around you. Whether you return the shopping cart to the stall for the busy mother, hand a homeless person $10 and a sandwich or honor someone for just being who or how they are (like the dear old couple this morning), the act of giving benefits you just as much as the person to whom you give. Want more abundance, joy and the sense that it’s a wonderful world in your life? Give more.
Find him on Twitter @RealSteveRizzo, Facebook at Riz’s Biz Steve Rizzo, LinkedIn and Google+.