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Go and Give It

Scientific studies have shown that helpfulness toward others boosts happiness and creates happier, more trusting communities. A study published in the NCIB tracked the behavior of a diverse sample of 473 participants during a 6-week experiment. Each participant was instructed to perform an act of kindness for themselves or for someone else. Those that chose to help others did better emotionally, than those that focused only on themselves.

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Judge yourself not others

A few years ago I encountered a homeless woman who needed help at a busy intersection. She appeared sad and confused. Starting a conversation was not in the plans—it was a beautiful sunny day, the right condition for a quiet walk without interruptions. However I was drawn to the other side of the street to meet her—what ensued was a life changing experience.

She smiled and mentioned that she had not eaten, was hungry and if I could spare some change. She extended her hand expectantly. Seeing the cracks in the palm of her skin, wonders filled my mind. How long has she been on the streets? Has anyone spoken with her today? How many have passed her by not thinking about how she feels? I pointed to a grocery store across the intersection and offered to buy her anything she wanted to have for food.

Think of others more

Once inside we secured a carriage and she began to fill it with fruits, vegetables, breads, cookies, cold cuts, chips and drinks. What caught my attention is that throughout the shopping experience, she occasionally stopped to confirm that it was okay to continue. She purchased two of every item for she wanted to share with her homeless friends who were also hungry—though destitute herself she cared about others who were not even present.

We completed our purchases and parted with hugs—I crossed the street and continued on my walk thinking about this amazing person, who taught me about unselfishness by her own enthusiasm to share with her friends; even though she was in need herself.

Giving without expectation

Your daily walks are filled with opportunities to touch another’s life. Such occasions are always there and can ignite a deep sense of joy and accomplishment.

In business as example, when leaders and organizations instill an altruistic culture and understanding, the result is a higher drive in team’s effectiveness. Several reports have shown that the highest-performing teams invest substantial time and energy in coaching, and consulting with their colleagues, sharing knowledge, offering mentoring, and making connections without expecting anything in return.

Stimulate reciprocation with purposeful actions

When employees freely contribute their knowledge and skills to others, team cohesion and coordination is enhanced. They are able to solve problems and get work done faster. Indiana University’s Philip Podsakoff has demonstrated through his studies for various industries that the frequency with which employees help one another predicts higher profits, customer satisfaction, creativity and operating efficiency. Being helpful to someone may not come easy but the outcome is worthwhile.

I recently learned about the “Reciprocity Ring” developed by University of Michigan professor Wayne Baker and his wife, Cheryl Baker, at Humax Networks in which members of groups make requests for help, and the group participants use their knowledge and various resources to grant it. Such an innovative collaborative approach empowers the individual for the benefit of the organization—if it is within your power, then just do it.

When you do something to solve someone’s problem or volunteer to help another, lives are changed and often time your kindness toward one person is carried forward to others without your knowledge – simply because you took the first step. Go ahead throw the first pebble and watch the ripple effect… who knows you may well even gain a friend and a lasting rewarding experience. Our world of wonders is seeded by people doing simple acts such as these in business or privately. What’s your story?

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