Give away your 11.2 million dollars. No big deal.

I was clicking around the internet today, trying to find a story I saw on my local news about an artist living visibly to passers-by for one month (sounded interesting!), when I found a few really wonderful stories about generosity on MSNBC.

The first, a video clip about women helping other women a half world away through the organization Kiva.   Kiva has facilitated the micro-lending of millions of dollars to help others in more economically disadvantaged nations since its creation in 2004. Click here to see the video story. Click here to visit the foundation’s website.

The second awesome thing I found: an article about a couple that gave away nearly all of their lottery winnings–all 11.2 million dollars of it! Click here to read the story. Pretty amazing.

Have a great day!

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Amicable Allegory #8: The right place at the right time

Have you ever had the feeling that your day worked out  exactly how it did  for a very particular reason? Like, when you forgot your coffee one morning, and found your stove burner still turned on when you went in to retrieve your drink? I like to think these are little ways God (or angels or spirits or the flying spaghetti monster) looks out for us, keeps us safe.

Well, I think I just had another one of those moments. My husband and I drove into NYC for the first time yesterday. Usually we take the train, but we have to go to Brooklyn in a few weeks by car, and wanted to do a “dry run” of the journey. Normally I would have tuckered out halfway into the drive (cars make me sleepy), but for some reason, I drove the first few hours without a problem.  We pulled into a rest-area to trade-off driving and fuel up. Even though we had to stop at the food plaza, I drove right past it to the fuel pumps without thinking. There was no lanes to return to the plaza, so while Jake pumped the gas, I ran in and used the ladies room, and when I returned, Jake ran in to use the men’s room. As I sat there waiting for him to come back, an older woman (I’m guessing late 60’s or so) asked me “Is there an attendant around? Do you think they check tire pressure here?” I told her I doubted it, but up ahead there was an air pump, so she could fill up her tires there. Dismayed, she said, “I have no idea how to do it. I just have a light in my car that says the tire pressure is low.” Without hesitation, I replied, “Well, when my husband gets back to the car, we can help you with the tires. We have a tire pressure gauge.” She was elated and very grateful, and I was equally happy we were there to help. When Jake returned, he quickly filled her tires (they all needed 10 pounds of pressure–good thing she stopped) and I chatted with her while we waited. She was impressed us “young people” were so helpful, and I said, “Oh, that’s just how I was raised,” and told her about the Be Nice. project. She asked for my contact information, so I gave her a pamphlet and postcard along with my information. She took me into her arms with a warm, joy-filled hug, and then took Jake’s hand and pressed something into it, thanking us heartedly. We told her no thanks was necessary–we were just happy to be of service, but she insisted we take what she gave us, no arguments allowed. It was a twenty dollar bill.

Jake and I were blown away by her enormous generosity and gratitude. She had said to us, “Not many people would have helped me, or even paid attention.”  And I thought, “Some people might have even taken advantage of the situation by swindling her or demanding money.” Jake and I were simply happy to help, without a single thought of a reward. The twenty dollars was an unexpected ( and unnecessary) bonus, and it got me thinking. [I’m not meaning this impending thought-stream in any negative way toward our wonderful new friend on the thruway. It just made me wonder….] Wasn’t there a time when people used to help others in need without expecting anything in return? I swear it was like that when I was a kid. Often a proper show of gratitude was a warm smile, a hug or a hand shake, an invitation to dinner, or a thank you note. But today, it seems like repayment or rewards are expected, and the standard currency for gratitude is money. I wonder how that came to be? Is an “I’ll do something, but not for nothing” mentality prevailing in our culture? (This mentality sounds a lot like the attitude, “I’ll give them a wedding gift, but only because they invited me to their party and they’re feeding me.”) Or, is the good feeling of doing what’s right not enough for some people any more?  There was certainly a time when a monetary show of thanks was unnecessary, possibly even offensive. But nowadays, there are people who feel resentment when they are not given “proper”, equivalent, or reciprocal thanks (i.e., a similarly priced gift, an invitation to an equally lavish event, or a monetary reward). What changed?

There are millions of people in the world who do give for the joy of giving, who help strangers because they like to do it. But what saddens me is that there are a large number of folks who give, but with an agenda or an expectation of similar repayment. When did we start keeping track of who-gave-what’s and who-owes-who? And can we find a way to free ourselves from that thinking? Because it costed me nothing but a little bit of time to help that fantastic woman, and it felt so great to know that God put me in just the right place to be able to do it. For me, that was worth more than anything.

Amicable Allegory #6: Kindness and enthusiasm

The other day I brought some Be Nice. pamphlets and postcards to Stuyvesant Photo while I also picked up some bulbs and batteries. My normal gal, Jen, was out that day, but working behind the counter were two other wonderful employees: Pete and Kim. I asked if I could put my stuff on their table in the entry way and they were thrilled! They loved the materials and got a real kick out of them. Pete said, “Hey! I do some of these things already.” That is something I hope a lot of people will say when they read those pamphlets. In addition to being a gentle reminder of things we can all improve, it is also an acknowledgement of things we do already! Kim went into the back and brought out clear plastic display stands and put the Be Nice. postcard into it so it would be more catchy in the entryway!  He then gave me another for use somewhere else. It was so generous and kind of him!

What was even better was the conversation that grew from that exchange. They were very curious about where I was from (Iowa), and what had brought me to Albany. They had very lively stories about their experiences with courtesy. We spoke about my art work, and Pete had awesome suggestions of resources to check out.

Every day I reach out to talk with other people, I benefit in some way. The principles of being nice and courteous really do make a heap of difference in our daily lives when acted on regularly!

🙂

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

Amicable Allegory #5: Delights from unexpected places

See! This is why I make chit-chat with people when I’m buying stuff:

I bought some wine the other night and got to talking with the man behind the counter. He made a comment about planning to watch 24 (the TV show), and I said, “Oh, I don’t have cable so I can’t watch it.” And he promptly informed me that Fox is accessible with bunny ears. I was thrilled! I came home, rescanned with my converter box and lookie-there: FOX tv station 23! Woot-woot!

You never know what you’ll discover from little exchanges. It might be something small, but big things and small things can be equally delightful!

🙂

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

Amicable Allegory #4: meat market

I had a great series of great days this last weekend. Everyone seemed to be in a pleasant mood. I went shopping for much-needed wardrobe items (something I don’t like to do for sure is shop), and even there I had a great time and was surrounded by lovely people, great conversations and manners, manners, manners! Yay!

What was really great was when I went to the grocery store that evening, and my fiance and I decided to buy some italian sausages from the case for dinner. The woman behind the counter was busy trying to get the meats put away, and I imagined it must have been a long day if she was finally at the end of it. So, when we had told her that we needed something from the case, I asked (smiling as always), “How are you?” and she just lit up and said, “I’m good, thank you!” And after a tiny little exchange of pleasantries, she said, “I sure wish all my customers were as pleasant as you are!” 

Isn’t that nice? What a wonderful reward for both of us–a smile for her and me, and we both felt appreciated for something we did!

🙂

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

Amicable Allegory #3: ER Experience

Nice people do make dubious days better.

My fiance and I were at the ER last Monday (the beginning of a long hospital stay and the second ER trip in four days), and after an hour wait, we were escorted to a bed in the hallway where we were to spend another four hours. 

As we waited for my fiance’s turn to be treated, a registration lady came around to take his information. Her name was Cynthia. I imagine many people in her position would have a lot of stressful days: working in an ER, talking with distraught people who may or may not have health insurance….  But Cynthia was just wonderful. As soon as I smiled at her, she was equally as delightful. We chatted and joked and had a great time while she took in my Fubby’s information. Even after she had finished helping us, we would exchange little jokes when she passed by. When I mentioned that I hadn’t eaten that day, she got me packs of graham crackers and a few cans of juice to tide me over until I could go to the cafeteria. This meant so much to me on a day that held a lot of surprises and unfortunate and unplanned events.

It’s people like Cynthia, who do thoughtful little things to help other people, that make a tremendous difference in a person’s day.

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.

Amicable Allegory #2: The return of kindness

I just love it when being nice rewards people!

Today was just such a day. Nothing was particularly bad or good about today–it was just one of those days when I had a lot to do on a list that continually gets bigger. My Fubby (future hubby) and I had just left the wake of an good acquaintance and had decided to pick up supper. I had a $10 gift card I was itching to spend. When I was called to the register, I quickly noted that the young woman waiting on me seemed to be in that usual daze from waiting on too many nameless, faceless people. So I asked, smiling at her warmly, “How are you?”  A huge smile came across her face and she replied, “I’m good. And you?” I said I was great. Then Jamie (I got her name before I left) said  how wonderful it was to have someone cheerful and nice in her line after such a bad day. I said, “I know what you mean. And most people just get weirded out with how friendly I am–it’s nice for someone to appreciate it. In fact, I made an entire blog on the subject of being nice.” She thought that was great, so I offered her my card with the Be Nice. logo on it. She said she needed 300,000 of those to pass out! I was so enthused to have a stranger be so appreciative of being nice!

That is where the reward is: when someone shows appreciation for the little nice things you do! It’s great!!!! And, what was a big surprise: Jamie was so excited by my cheerfulness on a rather tough work day, that she gave us our meal for free. I couldn’t have asked for such a kind gesture, but I was surely grateful.

Jamie is an outstanding example of what kindness can do: when someone greeted her with a smile and a cheerful hello, she noticed it despite her bad day, and returned the kindness with verbal appreciation(and with even greater vigor and generosity).  The free food was just a splendid bonus. The real value came in her genuine response.

I am so grateful and feel very rewarded. It’s people like Jamie who remind me what Be Nice. is all about!

 

© Be Nice. Creator and Be Nice. (somethingsonice.wordpress.com), 2008-2009.