Thom here, and today I wanted to share a story with you. With tomorrow being Christmas, I thought that I would share a story about something that happened to my wife (Nancy) and I last Friday.
Nancy and I were invited to see a big band show with another couple. They were going to play Christmas songs at a great little Madrid theater in The Valley. We figured that we would all have dinner first so we went at about six (a couple hours before the other couple). Since we were so early, we decided to check out a little bookstore down the street from the restaurant. It was a quaint, little used bookstore.
I got the Public Speakers Treasure Chest and another book and Nancy got a Shakespearean book. As we stood in the check-out line, we noticed a thin teenager paying for two books. She was counting the money on the counter (all in one dollar bills) but she must have come up short because she looked up from her change and said, “Would you hold these for me and I’ll bring you all of the money on Monday?”
The owner seemed friendly enough so I signed to him, “Just put it on my bill.” So he tells her, you’ve got a Secret Santa. Don’t worry about the rest, he’ll just pay for the rest of the bill.” She turned around, looking for her Secret Santa and finally met me eye-to-eye and said, “Thank you very much.”
I told her to have a Merry Christmas to keep learning. This small gesture flooded me with emotions. Doing something for someone and expecting nothing in return, AKA generosity floods our brain with oxytocin which is a chemical that makes us feel good. You get oxytocin from hugging, shaking hands, smiling, and doing nice things. Whenever you witness a good deed, you get that feeling of happiness – oxytocin gets released.
Athletes access endorphins which mask pain. For example, marathon runners hit the wall and then endorphins kick in to mask that pain. While endorphins may be helpful, I prefer the naturally occurring happiness in oxytocin and generosity.
Anyway, back to the story. My two books didn’t cost much but Nancy’s book was about $35. When we got up to the register the owner said, “What you did was really nice and now I feel bad because I should have done that. So I’m going to give you this book for $20 instead of $35.”
Generosity is doing something for someone and expecting nothing in return. It’s designed to make you feel good. You are paying for that feeling by giving something or sharing something and expecting nothing in return. Keep this in mind this holiday season.
Have a very Merry Christmas and B BOP!