Why Do We Give?

Does doing random (as in to a stranger) or personal (to someone you know) acts of kindness really accomplish anything? Could doing something as seemingly immaterial as paying $2.50 for a stranger’s cup of coffee possibly have a meaningful impact on their day?

After paying it forward for now 50 consecutive days, I can tell you I honestly don’t know. That’s not the intent behind the ongoing efforts though. After embarking on a 365 day journey of surprising someone with something pleasantly unexpected (coffees, bagels, flowers, laundry quarters, etc.), I now know this effort is not at all about impacting the lives of others. Sure, that’s a welcomed outcome. The domino effect of having of that person in turn do something nice and unexpected for someone else would be amazing. The ripple effect could impact an untold number. It could be, would be magical.

But what I now understand is that I’m doing this for me. It would almost be selfish, if it weren’t being kind.

So why is it that we give?

Why do we help others?

Why do we donate our time, talent, and treasures to people we may never meet or even see?

The most basic, most raw, most honest answer is that we give because it makes us feel good.

At the end of the day, we give because we get in return. We get smiles. We get hugs. We get warm fuzzies in our hearts. We get awards. We get plaques. We get accolades on stage. It doesn’t matter the size of the prize, because the “knowing” in our hearts, minds, and souls is what truly makes us feel good.

I heard on the not-real-news-radio-channel called Hits-One (kids pick) that John Legend and his beautiful bride Chrissy Teigen are big tippers. She recently went to Outback Steakhouse and left a $1,000 tip on a $200 tab. He on the other hand recently left $300 for a $12 check.

Why? Because they are benevolent. Yes. Because they are wealthy. Yes. Because they liked the people they met. Probably yes that too. But I can guarantee you that they felt great afterwards. Not because of the press they received about it, but because of the way it made them feel.

I’m paying it forward for a year. If I weren’t videoing each encounter every day and posting it to YouTube, I’d be having a lot more fun. No one is following me. Until now, no one even knew I was doing this. But that’s OK, because it still feels really, really, ridiculously good. And that reason alone is my why.

(PS – Should you want to follow along, you can find me on YouTube Here.)