“Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question” – e.e. cummings.
A question can be considered beautiful for any number of reasons, however I prefer to focus on beautiful questions that are ambitious, adaptable and actionable.
Here’s my beautiful question…and if you’ll indulge me on this idea, your life will be better…and I mean bigger, better and far more beautiful because of it.
How can we positively impact the world through intentional acts of kindness?
Here’s my beautiful answer…focus on the principle of serial reciprocity.
Reciprocity is defined as a mutual exchange. It simply explains that that when someone gives you something or does something for you, that you feel an obligation to give back and return the favor.
Serial reciprocity is exactly what one might expect – a series of sequential exchanges between parties.
This set of exchanges is unique because they do not occur between two people in a closed quid pro quo arrangement.
Instead, serial reciprocity is “when people repay the benefits they have received – for example, from a parent, friend, mentor, anonymous stranger, or a previous generation – by providing benefits to a third party, someone other than their benefactor”
PAYING IT FORWARD
Serial reciprocity differs from other forms of reciprocity because the original donor or volunteer does not receive anything tangible, measurable or immediate in return for his or her initial good deed.
I define serial reciprocity as, “the principle that says we should repay the good works and contributions done for us by the good works and contributions we, in turn, do for others”
Thus, in serial reciprocity, individuals “pay it forward” INSTEAD of paying it back.
In the film Pay it Forward, a teacher asks his young students to fix what they don’t like about the world. A student, Trevor, completes the assignment by helping three people.
In return, he asks only that each individual help three more people, and request that they do the same. Trevor hopes to change the world one action at a time using the principle of serial reciprocity to begin an unending chain of positive events.
Here’s where the ambitious, adaptable and actionable part comes into the equation.
THE 7-DAY BENEVOLENCE CHALLENGE
I’d like to invite you to enthusiastically participate in the 7-Day Benevolence Challenge…a life-changing challenge whereby you will engage in a series of random acts of benevolence and expect nothing (other than a warm fuzzy feeling inside) in return.
1. Identify Your Target
For each of the next week, identify a person or group of people whom you would like to help.
You can choose to focus on one person for each of the seven days, and you can also recruit others to participate in the challenge with you.
2. Be Intentional.
Benevolence is intentional, not random. Think of an intentional, special act of benevolence that you would like to do for them.
3. Be Creative.
Refrain from using money…instead, use that beautiful melon of yours and think of ways to use your time, talents or special gifts to blow someone’s mind…to positively interrupt their day…or simply to put a beautiful smile on their face and a twinkle in their eye.
4. Remain Anonymous.
Look at this as your time to paly Secret Santa.
5. Leave a Note
Ask the beneficiary of your benevolence to simply pay it forward and do three anonymous good deeds for others…EVERYDAY.
WHY SHOULD YOU PARTICIPATE?
Serial reciprocity is of critical importance on four accounts.
The first, and most obvious, is that it widens the circle of giving, allowing recipients to become givers by doing good deeds for another.
Second, the deeds of these “new” givers perpetuate benevolent action and ensure its place in society.
Third, serial reciprocity is essential to the transmission of benevolent values from one generation to the next.
Finally, the ultimate test of the impact of YOUR LIFE is twofold: whether the world you leave behind is qualitatively different and superior from that which you inherited, and what contribution you made to that change.
Therefore by participating in the 7-Day Benevolence Challenge, you are helping to make the world a better place and inspiring others to do the same.
Now’s that’s a win-win proposition by anyone’s standards.
I hope that by sharing this understanding of serial reciprocity and by offering it as a challenge, that it illuminates benevolent motives in people throughout the world.
I believe that once people recognize the importance of serial reciprocity and consider its true implications…that it becomes difficult to imagine daily life without engaging in intentional and consistent acts of benevolence.
I believe kindness and love is what people need right now.
Will you join me?
I’m going to be unreasonably optimistic, ridiculously cheerful and oblivious to fear. Or at least that’s my plan. And I’m going to hand out sincere and honest compliments everywhere I go. I’m going to positively impact the lives of as many people as I can and invite you to join me for a glorious ride.
So what are you waiting for?
Begin your challenge today, and by all means…pass this message on to everyone in your address book and invite them to participate along with you.
Gary Ryan Blair
P.S. Please be sure to share all of your fun, kooky, creative ideas with me and once you’re done with this 7 day challenge, see what’s in store for you with the next challenge.