“It’s better to give than to receive.” Jesus himself spoke these words and since Christmas is this month, we’ve been pondering these words as they relate to the concept of paying it forward.
Many companies have mantras, core values, mission statements etc. At WebPunch, our goal is to make our teammates, our clients and everyone we come in contact with just a little bit happier. We like smiling. Smiling is our favorite. We look to scientifically proven fountains of happiness to guide our actions and one of these pillars is serving others.
The word charitable kept coming to mind as I pondered what it looks like to serve others.
Definition of charitable
1 : full of love for and goodwill toward others : benevolent
2 a : liberal in benefactions to the needy : generous
b : of or relating to charity charitable institutions
3 : merciful or kind in judging others : lenient
The word goes beyond financial charity. Need comes in many forms and poverty doesn’t just mean financially challenged, right? You can be poor in spirit, poor in health, poor in judgment, poor in kindness, poor in lots of things.
Being charitable might mean that when one of my kids is cranky, instead of yelling or doling out consequences, I take the time to discover the reason why he’s so upset. Is he hungry? Is he tired? Has he had way too much screen time? Is he an almost-13-year-old hormonal mess? Maybe all of the above? It takes effort on my part to offer goodwill and kindness rather than coming down hard on him.
Paying it forward and being charitable are not so different. When someone acts charitable toward me, it makes me want to offer that same kindness to others.
My daughter Ella and I decided that we needed to put this whole idea of paying it forward to the test and since we had to pick up paint at Home Depot, we made a stop at Starbucks first. We nervously waited a solid minute before somebody finally pulled in behind us. How could we pay it forward if no car was behind us? We were bouncing in our seats and I realized that it actually WAS more exciting to be the giver and the word unexpected popped into my head. I think that’s what makes paying it forward so awesome and exciting – people aren’t expecting it. So we told the barista that we wanted to pay for the order behind us and we left feeling so joyful.
The longest pay-it-forward chain was at a Florida Starbucks and was 378 people long and lasted eleven hours. Three HUNDRED and seventy-eight people long! The 379th customer ended the chain by ordering a coffee and declining to pay for the next one. We say “Bah humbug to that!”
Ella reminded me that a few years ago someone had done the same thing for us when we were in the drive-through of McDonald’s (don’t judge) and my younger daughter verified the same story later that evening. Here’s the thing: I don’t remember this happening, but in my own defense, I have four kids and the earlier years were kind of a blur, not to mention the loss of many brain cells due to said children. However, my girls remembered that this incident happened and they both said that I was so touched that I cried about it. So apparently, being on the receiving end is equally as touching as giving.
How does this work in business? Can it? We think so!
Mahatma Gandhi said “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
I’m sure we can all remember a person in our lives who poured their wisdom, time, or other resources into us. It’s nice to take a moment and reflect on those who have gone before us who took the time to pay it forward by sharing their knowledge with us.
Somehow I made it to 25 years of age without knowing how to manage a budget. When my car died and I needed to buy a new one, one of my bosses sat down with me and showed me how to do a simple budget. It was so enlightening. Fast forward to several years when my 18-year-old niece moved in with our family for a time and I was able to show her how to set up a budget.
When Doreen, Jill and I got hired on WebPunch, Rachel took us under her wing and showed us the ropes. She was patient and upbeat as she thoroughly explained what our responsibilities would be and went through each of them step by step. She kindly shared her wealth of knowledge with us, allowing question after question after question. Her encouragement and willingness to pay it forward by passing her expertise on to us was a gift and the very definition of charitable.
Helping others seems to be an innate characteristic and science has proven that paying it forward does something to our brains.
Time magazine says, “Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it’s pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful.”
“You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want,” Zig Ziglar famously said.
Goodwill appears to be a win-win situation all around so in this season of giving and hope, look for ways to be generous and magnanimous toward others, keeping in mind the element of surprise and unexpectedness. And stay tuned for more articles relating to paying it forward and helping others. ‘Tis the season!