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Something Beginning With G

By Karen Vally on 26 May 2024

The book, Infectious Generosity, by Chris Anderson, really got me thinking. It drew me like a magnet. As soon as I noticed that the author was responsible for the launch of the famous TED talks, I knew that this book would be irresistible. These comments on the back cover made me even more resolute.

"I flew hrough these pages with an increasing sense of joy. I hope that millions read this book." Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love.

"The first page-turner ever written about human generosity." Elizabeth Dunn, social psychologist and expert on the science of happiness.

"A masterpiece...I want everyone I know to read this - and everyone I don't know, too." Andrew Solomon, author and speaker on culture and psychology.

I didn't need any more convincing. I started reading it on the day of purchase and read it at every possible moment thereafter, finishing it in less than a week. It filled me with a sense of renewed hope, to such an extent, that I have chosen it as the topic for this blog. My desire to know more about this fundamental human trait, took me on an interesting journey. We've all heard about the famous philanthropists, but the author draws attention to the phenomenal acts of generosity that ordinary people have carried out and how, through the power of the Internet, they have gone viral, much to the amazement of their initiators.

In the spring of 2017, Amy Wolff was deeply disturbed by the escalation in the suicide rate amongst young people in her area. Despite the fact that this was not her area of expertise, she felt a deep desire to do something, something that was inspired by a dream she had had recently. She bought twenty signs, each of which had a Brene' Brown message of love, hope and courage upon it. She jumped into her car with her husband and children and they began asking the residents of Newberg to display them in their yards.

One young man who drove past on his way to commit suicide, saw a sign, read it and turned around to go back home and tell his family that he had been struggling with depression and needed help. Another, an addict, when he saw a sign, read it and decided to book himself into a rehabilitation centre. Within hours, social media channels were bursting with the news of Amy's signs and this act of kindness soon became a global movement.

In March 2020, in Australia, Catherine Barrett, noticed that a neighbour had put a box of tissues and a note on a communal table in her apartment block. The note contained these words, "Please take if needed." Catherine was so deeply touched by this person's thoughtfulness, that she created a Facebook group called, the Kindness Pandemic, where she posted a picture of the box of tissues and the note. The response was overwhelming.

There is no doubt that there are numerous benefits of being generous. It keeps us healthy, makes us happy, lowers our stress level, improves our relationships and extends our lives. Generosity may be in the form of encouragement, time, gifts or money. Generous people give without expecting anything in return.

Another wonderful story is about the hairdresser in London called, Joshua Coombes, who started giving free haircuts to homeless people and as a result started the #DOSOMETHINGFORNOTHING campaign.

"You can make a difference in small things," he says. He draws our attention, in  his story, to our fundamental human need to connect.

"Giving can inspire great positive change and healing in a world that deeply needs it." It shifts our focus away from our own needs and towards those of others.

"Every time you amplify generosity, you are helping to turn the tide. You're helping to paint a fairer picture of the world, one where we can shake off our fears and realize there is a pathway to a more hopeful future."


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