The recent story of total strangers coming together in Panama City forming a human chain to rescue swimmers caught in a rip current has captivated millions of people. The story began with two young boys aged 11 and 8 who got caught in the rip current. Family members and strangers went to help the boys also got caught. It was at that moment that around 80 total strangers came together and formed a human chain to reach and rescue the swimmers all of whom survived.
To watch the powerful video click here.
This story has been covered around the globe. All you need to do is google, “human chain rescue” and you will see what I mean.
Why the fascination with this story? It touches our hearts in a way that other feel good stories don’t. There is something about being generous to a stranger especially when the stakes are high that is powerful, unexpected, and heart-warming.
The great news is we don’t have to wait for a catastrophe like this to also feel good about being generous.
Being generous is linked to happiness
New research shows that being generous is linked to happiness Maybe that won’t come as a surprise to you. It didn’t for me.
The research out of the University of Zurich found that being even a little generous can make people happier. The study itself involves participants who were given a sum of money. The participants were divided into two groups – one that would spend the money on themselves and the other that would spend the money on someone they knew. For the group giving gifts, the researchers monitored brain activity. Those in the generosity group were happier after the study than those who acted more selfishly.
Significantly, the study found that one did not have to be significantly generous to feel better. There was no correlation between the quantity of generosity and the amount of happiness.
The role of generosity
The human chain story and this study made me wonder how we all think about generosity and the role it plays in our lives.
For many of us, generosity most often occurs in the context of gift giving for the holidays, birthdays, and the like. In those cases, being generous happens because we feel we should be generous. We might associate generosity with having some sort of obligation.
But the generosity that really touches me and I suspect many of you is when it happens at the most unexpected moment. And it becomes exceptional when it happens between strangers.
The epitome of that is the human chain story. This is generosity on steroids.
Putting generosity into practice
But if you believe the research, going out of your way to be generous will not just help someone else but it will make you feel better too. So next time you are out and about, think about whether you could…
- Hold the door open for someone instead of rushing ahead.
- Do something unexpected and appreciated for someone in your family
- Give someone in need a little cash or food
- Reach out to an old friend just to say hello
You will feel a little better for being generous and they will too.