The Cascade of Giving & Receiving Kindness

 In Better Life, Focusing on the positive, Goals

I turned the key in the ignition of my car.  Nothing!  I tried again.  With a sinking feeling, I realized that the battery was dead.  I’d been sitting in my car because I had some time to kill between meetings.  What I hadn’t realized is that my lights had been on the whole time, and now my car wouldn’t start.  AND my next meeting was in 15 minutes!  I got out and put the hood up.  As I was searching for my jumper cables, an elderly man walked across the parking lot and asked me if I needed help.  I told him my situation.  

He quickly retrieved a battery charger from his vehicle and attached it to my car.  In a few minutes, my car was running. Yes!  I offered to pay him but he wouldn’t hear of it.  He was glad he could help.

How did that make me feel?  I was incredibly grateful for his help and happy that I’d make it to my next meeting in time.  Interestingly, as I went about my day I noticed I was more eagerly looking for opportunities to do something nice for someone else.

Studies show that receiving generosity and kindness increases the likelihood of extending generosity to others. AND kindness is likely to play an important role in setting a cascade of generosity in motion.

So when we help others, we may not only be helping this one particular individual but potentially many others downstream.

What are some examples of people recently being kind to you?    Of you being kind to others?  What are some common situations where you could extend generosity to start a cascade?


Kurt Gray, Adrian F. Ward and Michael I. Norton, Journal of Experimental Psychology: 2014, Vol. 143, No. 1, 247–254, Paying It Forward: Generalized Reciprocity and the Limits of Generosity

Tsvetkova M, Macy MW, PLoS ONE: 2014, 9(2): e87275. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087275, The Social Contagion of Generosity 


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Tina Hallis, Ph.D. is Chief Positivity Officer of The Positive Edge, a company dedicated to helping people and organizations increase their positivity to improve the quality of people’s work lives and the quality of company cultures. She is certified in Positive Psychology, an authorized partner for Everything DiSC®, and a Professional Member of the National Speaker’s Association

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