We've come to expect bargains. And we love a 'two for one' or a 'buy one get one free'. But how often do we use them as an opportunity to share with others? Better still, don't wait for the bonus; buy extra anyway and make someone's day.
"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion,
and ... your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."2 Corinthians 9:11 (NIV)
'Buy two give one away' lacks the appeal of the more popular slogans commonly used to entice our business. But what it lacks in consumer appeal it more than makes up for as a principle or challenge.
I have a friend, Susie, who made an all too familiar New Year's resolution… to get a little fitter. She shares my disdain for the gym but has remarkably managed to keep going. Eventually my guilt prompted me to discover her secret. She told me that she only ever promises to go for five minutes; after that she's free to leave. Five minutes! I thought, "What's the point?" But she explained that five minutes always becomes 30, 60 or even 90; it's the initial commitment that's the toughest. I realised that it's not just a great way of tricking yourself into the gym; I'm discovering that it's an easier way to become the generous person I'd like to be.
Parting with large chunks of my hard-earned cash is a not-too-enthralling prospect that invokes a similar degree of guilt as the gym. But choosing to buy an extra ticket to the cinema or even just an extra coffee is definitely manageable and is slowly developing into a much richer, more generous habit. It may not seem like much but I believe that it's the little random acts of generosity that build stronger relationships and healthier communities.
So as long as Susie continues to promise five minutes in the gym, I'll commit to buying 'just one more coffee' and we'll see how far I get.
Choose how to complete this act...
Head to the supermarket, stock up on BOGOFs, and start handing them out to everyone you see: 'Hey, I just got this for free and I don't need it – want it?' A bar of chocolate, a bottle of water, a newspaper, a concert ticket, gift vouchers for the cinema – take your pick.
Don't wait for the offer; buy it yourself. Get the next person in line a pint/coffee/sandwich along with your order. Or, pay for a bus ticket for the person behind you.
Planning on grabbing tickets for something, or going out for a meal? Who could you invite along that would least expect it and you could foot the bill for? Invite someone out from the fringe of your social group, or prioritise spending time with someone close to you and treat them to the occasion. Or how about going all out and paying for someone else's dinner secretly?