It's natural for decent people to feel a sense of obligation when someone helps them out, to invited someone back to dinner who first invited you, to pay back money (or sugar or eggs) lent, to send a Christmas card to those from whom you have received. Reciprocating is a courtesy most understand, but serial reciprocity is a nice twist on an old idea.
Serial reciprocity is providing benefits to someone other than the original benefactor.
While I don't remember much about the movies Pay It Forward, the concept behind it had a profound impact on my life. I was always taught the Golden Rule and to love and serve others, but the idea that the help and kindnesses we receive obligate us to serial reciprocity — or at least should nudge us to consider it's benefits — was powerful.
Some of the benefits unique to serial reciprocity include:
- Widens the circle of giving
- The deeds of the new givers perpetuate benevolent action and ensure its place in society
- It is essential to the transmission of benevolent values from one generation to the next
- Leaves the world a better place and inspires others to do the same
Imagine living in a world where everyone looked out only for themselves. Imagine a world where everyone cared for and helped others. Which would you prefer? As John Wesley said:
Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, for as long as you can!
Spend one day this week looking for all the opportunities — big or small — to help someone else. You will probably be shocked to find out how much it lifts you.
Join me in the 100 Day Challenge!