Quoting the bible is not something I do very often, and quite frankly until just a few moments ago I did not even know that this well-known line was from that book. The message is however as simple as it is true: Whatever you give will be returned to you.
-Wait a minute, mister! How can you say that? I give and I give and I give and I never get anything in return!! (Yes, we all know that one).
If you buy someone a coffee it is not a given that this person will buy you a coffee tomorrow, next week or even next year. But that is not really the point and keeping scores of people’s generosity is probably not a very good idea. Not because you are likely to end up with a negative balance but because giving for the sake of receiving exactly the same thing (or something better) back is not called giving at all. It is called borrowing, exchange or even investment.
Some of the happiest people I know are also among the most generous people I know. And I don’t think this is a coincidence. Generosity attracts generosity and people who give freely send a powerful signal to the world: That they are safe and secure enough to share whatever they have because they live in abundance. I am not necessarily talking about money and other material stuff. Belgian Cardinal Désiré-Joseph Mercier once said: We must not only give what we have; we must also give what we are. It is often more meaningful and valuable to give of our time, our love, our understanding, a smile, our experience, our knowledge or maybe just give someone a break.
It is a fact that many people find it very hard to give freely. A fact that is a bit more confusing is that very many people find it equally hard to accept other people’s generosity. I know people who graciously give tons to others (seemingly) without expecting anything in return. However, once you try to give these angels what they deserve they turn into these rather ungracious creatures, and what could have been a pleasant situation for both plunges into plain awkwardness. Denying people around you the joy of giving may feel noble and righteous to you, but chances are that the giver is not seeing it in the same way. So give and receive with equal grace; the two are inseparably linked to each other. If you feel you cannot thank the person properly then pay it forward. Be extra generous to the next person you meet. This is how everyday magic is created.
By all means, I am not a saint. I do however think that the world has an infinite potential for improvement in this particular area and for me personally this improvement can only start with me.
What goes around comes around. And the exciting thing is that it doesn’t always come from the direction you would expect. So give freely – you never know who you will be thanking later!