Decidedly Generous

Are you ready for next Thursday? No, we’re not talking about Valentine’s Day, but about a new holiday that has also claimed the 14th of February since 2011: Generosity Day. This is how generosity leader and Generosity Day founder Sasha Dichter explained the holiday in his blog that first year: “Valentine’s Day is going to be rebooted as Generosity Day … The goal is to spend Valentine’s Day being more generous, giving more money, sharing of yourself, being of service. All acts of generosity, small and big alike, count. But you have to say YES to everything that’s asked of you, all day long! It’s about creating more generosity in the world, and becoming a more open person along the way.”

Generosity is something Dichter is very familiar with, and in fact his “say yes” rule is a one-day version of the month-long generosity experiment he conducted in December 2009. Recognizing a knee-jerk proclivity for saying no to people in need, Dichter made a decision. As he tells it in the video of his TED talk, “For the next 30 days, I would say yes to everyone who asked. Every beggar on the street, every musician, and every non-profit.” It was a transformative experience, and perhaps one of the most profound lessons came a few months later when he didn’t hesitate to hand $20 to a man on the New York subway asking for money to fill prescriptions. “I’m positive if it hadn’t been for this generosity experiment, I never would have done that. I never would have done it if I hadn’t decided in advance how I was going to behave in that situation, and letting that decision in advance inform my actions.”

Did you catch that? He decided in advance that he would respond this way in his life, and it changed everything. So with a week to decide, what will you do on February 14 to make a difference to those around you? In what way will you spread generosity and inspire it in others? Take the week to mull it over, and next week we’ll offer some suggestions of our own, as well as cheer any noteworthy ideas you share with us between now and then.