50 ways to be ridiculously generous — and feel ridiculously good.
I realized — many years ago — that when I behave generously, I feel rich. And I like to feel rich. So I choose to be generous.
But “behaving generously” doesn’t necessarily mean “donating money” or “giving away your last cookie.”
You can share knowledge freely, instead of hoarding it. You can send a hand-written note, instead of a text message. You can make eye contact, instead of checking out. You can make a life-changing introduction for a friend, instead of letting them “connect the dots” on their own.
You can do big things. Small things. Simple things. Stupendous things.
You will never run out of ideas. You will never run out of love. You will only create more. And: it can feel like a game.
In fact, what would happen if …
You said “thank you” 50 different ways, to 50 different people, every day, for the next 50 days?
The possibilities are beyond imagining, but one thing’s for certain:
You’re about to become everybody’s favorite person.
Starting today, join me in 50 days of ridiculous, shocking generosity.
You don’t need to “prepare.”
You don’t have to “buy anything.”
You don’t need to “give it some thought.”
You don’t have to “clear space on your calendar.”
You just need to fold generosity into your day, in little ways, every day.
You IN? I’m IN.
Here are 50 prompts and possibilities, to propel us along.
(It’s going to feel so good.)
Day 1: Compliment three strangers: a child, someone your own age, and an elder. Congratulate them on something highly-specific — “Way to rock that tricycle, kiddo!” — or simply say: “You look lovely, today.”
Day 2: Find a Little Free Library near you and donate a book. Can’t find one? Start one.
Day 3: That public radio station or podcast you’ve been streaming for months — or years? Become a member. Don’t put it off. And while you’re at it? Send a gushing, praise-filled email to the production team.
Day 4: Find a blogger who’s been slammed with mean comments, lately. Send them a love note. Tell them to keep writing.
Day 5: Choose a local show — improv! stand-up comedy! storyslam! indie rock! — and bring a MASS AVALANCHE of friends. Scream. Cheer. Make the hardworking, little-thanked performers feel like superstars.
Day 6: Choose a struggling (or not so struggling) poet and publicly thank them, on Twitter. Like this.
Day 7: Choose a big-name celebrity that you admire and write them a genuine, heartfelt letter of thanks. Just to say, “I love your work and you move me.” No “request” or “ask” or “gimme,” attached.
Day 8: Offer to take a photo of a sweet couple in love. When you email it to them, send along a GiftBit gift certificate, too — for a bottle of wine, or a couple of coffees.
Day 9: See a bicycle with a basket, parked on the street? Put flowers in it.
Day 10: Sponsor a small local yoga class. Buy up 10 or 20 spots, and give them away to strangers. Or neighbors. Yoga for everybody!
Day 11: Tell a teenager: “You are so smart. Scary smart. I can’t wait to see who you become. And I love who you are, right now.”
Day 12: Tell your mom (or someone who feels like your mom): “You raised me right. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from you? This: _______________.”
Day 13: Tell your dad (or someone who feels like your dad): “You’ve given me so many gifts. Like the ability to _______________, and the confidence to _______________. Thank you.”
Day 14: Be like Diane von Furstenberg and start your day by sending out one email specifically designed to help somebody else — without directly benefiting you at all — before you do anything else. Make introductions, send some encouragement, offer a helpful resource or link.
Day 15: Prowl through your closet and donate some treasures to Dress For Success — or its equivalent, in your country. You’ll de-clutter your wardrobe and help a struggling lady look like a star at her next job interview.
Day 16: Put away your smartphone and close down your inbox for a day (or just an hour). Give the world the gift of your undivided, non-digital attention.
Day 17: Experiment with Tonglen meditation: inhale suffering (yours and others), exhale compassion (for the whole world).
Day 18: Tip generously. Not sure how much? This is how much. Except double it.
Day 19: Record a Vocaroo message for someone you’ve been meaning to thank, for awhile. Tell them: “Keep this audio note and replay it whenever you’re doubting your extraordinary awesomeness.”
Day 20: Buy a meal for a stranger and start a magical chain reaction.
Day 21: Do somebody else’s laundry. Ask for nothing in return.
Day 22: Turn a photo from your smartphone into a real postcard. Send it.
Day 23: Give someone a grrrrreat massage. Here’s how.
Day 24: Get outlandishly excited about a small piece of good news, from a friend. (“You did WHAT? Just like THAT? You’re AMAZING!”) Model the kind of unbridled enthusiasm that you want to see in the world.
Day 25: Overwhelmed with things to read? Instead of cancelling your newspaper or magazine subscriptions, donate them to a local school for a few months (like this) till you’re ready to start receiving them again. Or not.
Day 26: Riding the bus? Waiting in line? Strike up a fascinating conversation with somebody who looks bored, sad or checked out. Start by simply asking: “What was the BEST part of your day?”
Day 27: Applying for a job? Trying to woo a client? Or even just make a friend? Send them something useful and astonishingly generous, before asking for anything. (It will change your world.)
Day 28: Create a gracious auto-responder for your email, packed with helpful answers to frequently-asked questions, links, resources — even a complimentary gift. (Want to see an example? Read this.)
Day 29: Buy a massage for a veteran of war. (Just call a local massage therapist, make a payment, and then contact your local veteran’s health administration and pass along the details.) Yes, you can afford it.
Day 30: Call up a friend who’s been having a rough time — or just an agonizingly busy week. Say: “Let me vacuum for you.” (They may weep.)
Day 31: Make a mixtape of uplifting, positive, soul-affirming tunes. Label it: “Listen to this when you need to remember who you are.” Leave the CD (or several copies) in a local coffeeshop.
Day 32: Send a story tip to a local reporter. (Especially if it’s good news.)
Day 33: Leave a wrapped gift on top of your trashcan with a note for your friendly neighborhood waste disposal professional. They deal with unspeakable filth, every week, all for YOU.
Day 34: Brew up a big pot of (good) coffee. Fill up some eco-friendly-ish disposable cups. Offer free java to everyone at work — or the bus stop.
Day 35: Buy an Amazon gift for a total stranger. (Search wishlists, here.)
Day 36: Four words: gourmet ice cream delivery.
Day 37: Choose a friend. Any friend. Grab a notebook. (Or … this book.) Fill the book with love notes and compliments written by you, and other people, too. Give it to your friend, and tell them it’s a High School Yearbook for the Soul.
Day 38: Make an 8Tracks playlist for your favorite human. Instruct them to shimmy the night away.
Day 39: Leave a platter of treats in the common area of your office or apartment building. Extra credit: a handwritten card with an inspirational quote and a list of ingredients (for folks who are plagued with allergies.)
Day 40: Pray for someone. Or if you don’t pray: send love.
Day 42: Help somebody land their dream job. Proof a friend’s resume. Rock out a mock interview. Loan them your lucky blazer. Tell them: “You’ve got this.”
Day 43: Volunteer to mentor an aspiring entrepreneur through your local SCORE chapter. (You don’t have to be an “expert” or know “everything.” You just have to know a few things … more than they do.)
Day 45: Leave a rave review on the iTunes page of your favorite podcast. Gush. Five stars. Bravo!
Day 46: Arrange a luxurious gift for a public school teacher. A concert pass. A nice bottle of wine. God, they need some love.
Day 47: Drag a friend — kicking and screaming — on stage to read a poem, do karaoke or tell a joke. Roar and cheer for them. Show them it’s safe to be visible — to be seen.
Day 48: Ask someone, “How was your day — really?” Let that person talk about themselves, past the point of comfort. Lean in. Stay there. Be present. Let ’em ramble. Give it that extra five minutes.
Day 49: Send a pizza to your best friend’s office. Lunch = sorted. Surprise!
Day 50: Be ridiculous and shocking and start this 50-day cycle of generosity … all over again. Because you can. You’re just that glorious.