Paying It Forward

by Dr. Alexander Wright, co Founder of Full Fathom ~ Psychologist

Do you worship money or compassion? Do you worship power or generosity? Your answer plays a role in determining the future existence of the human race. Compassion is a sympathetic concern for the misfortunes of others. Generosity is the quality of kindness in giving more of something than is strictly required or expected. I didn’t expect to encounter such significant gestures of compassion and generosity as I entered Kinchley’s Tavern in Ramsey, NJ, which has been around since 1937 and is a Bergen County classic and favorite for thin crust pizza.

More important than fantastic pizza on this particular Friday evening were the gestures of compassion and generosity extended by one of their managers named Jerry. You see Kinchley’s is a cash only establishment and yours truly was without his debit card and 10 dollars short in cash for 3 pizzas. Trying to resolve the options in my head, I humbly asked if I may pay for 2 and leave 1 given the close proximity to closing and the distant proximity to my debit card. Jerry met the request with sympathy for my minor misfortune and countered with a generous offering of a loan for the difference. At first, I was bewildered, then suddenly saddened by my surprise as it reminded me of how untrusting we have become. But my sadness was quickly washed away by a wave of gratitude and hope. My misfortune was absolutely miniscule in the big picture of life. But I was a stranger to Jerry and the fact that he trusted me to return without knowing anything about me was the true fortune: the gifts of compassion and generosity. Giving with risk. Giving without anything more expected in return. My point is, do not EVER underestimate the tremendous power of small gestures of compassion and generosity. And when it comes to your physical and emotional health, compassion and generosity are potent elixirs:

  • Helping is contagious: someone 4-5 cars ahead of me once paid a bridge toll for the car behind him and it resulted in a chain reaction of goodness. The car behind that one paid for the next 2 cars. People often keep the generous behavior going for hours.
  • Studies show that generosity reduces stress.
  • Studies show that generosity improves physical health.
  • Studies show that generosity naturally reduces depression.
  • Studies show that generosity increases lifespan.
  • Generosity improves relationships and creates new social connections.
  • Generosity enhances our feelings of purpose in this life. Our acts of compassion uplift others and make them happy.
  • By uplifting others we are also helping ourselves.

Thank you Jerry for a small monetary but significant humanistic gesture. Thank you for believing in my goodness as a human being and reminding me about the goodness of others; a spark of compassion, generosity, and hope that is invaluable. Thank you for paying it forward with pizza.

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

                  ~ Dalai Lama

“If we don’t change from a world society that worships money and power to one that worships compassion and generosity, I think we’ll be extinct by mid-century. I don’t say that as an alarmist or as a pessimist.”

                  ~ Patch Adams