Most of us know that the negative 24-hour news cycle is not giving us the whole picture of our world, but it’s sure easy to get bogged down and forget that there is generosity and hope all over the world. Today we’ll put a spring in your step with a few windows on possibility.

First, keep in mind that you don’t have to donate thousands, feed hundreds, or make the cover of the local paper to change the world a little bit.

One simple act of generosity or thoughtfulness is like tossing a pebble into a pond. You will never know what ripples (Ever Widening Circles) go out from there, but you will change a heart or a mind a little, and that will change the future in some way, large or small.

It’s Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., and that’s a feasting day when we commemorate a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrims in 1621. Many of us are moved to include some acts of generosity on this day, including being more patient with family members, and many of us will reflect about being thankful for what we have.

Today, we introduce you to an extraordinary fellow who brought his thankfulness and generosity to the streets. We are calling this man an “EWC Hope Leader.” Narayanan Krishnan has a story that illustrates the fact that any of us can improve the world for others. We can start out small or expand in ways we never dreamed possible. Take a look at just a small snippet of the story:

Via: CNN 1

We also applaud the CNN Heroes project, which is where we learned about Narayanan. Here’s what CNN has to say about this one man’s defining moment of generosity:

“With a degree in hand and future in sight, Narayanan was on his way to be an award-winning chef at a 5-star restaurant in Switzerland.”

“All it took to change his plans forever was a walk on the streets of his home town of Madurai, India. It was then that he was taken aback by an elderly man lying on the side of the road. This man was starving and filthy. Narayanan reached out to this old man who placed his frail, wrinkled dirty hand upon his. This was a defining moment.” 2

Starting in 2002 and utilizing his own personal savings, Narayanan Krishnan quit his fantastic job to feed the poor, aged and mentally ill. His family thought he had lost his mind, but the idea kept scaling up, and by 2011 he had served 1.7 million meals. The story goes even further. Absolutely remarkable.

Take a look at Narayanan’s TED Talk, which tells the whole story…

Have you had your defining moment of inspired generosity yet? A moment when you knew your whole worldview had shifted and you would include some sort of service to others in your life?

My defining moment came when I was 22 years old, traveling in Morocco with Dr. Chuck and a good friend who was a journalist for NPR. We happened to spend time in the home of a very nice, middle-class family from the famous Fez Suk. All the while we were in their home, they treated a little girl – no more than 9 years old – like a slave. She scurried around, working in the shadows, wearing rags, exactly like the house elves in the Harry Potter series.

In fact, I remember taking the following photo surreptitiously, so that I would never forget that moment and this one little girl.

Image: No generosity in this home: Sad little girl in Morocco 1983

One of our greatest mentors, Larry Bensky in the lower right of the photo, started us on a life of “noticing:” The little girl in the left of the photo changed my life. I never forgot the moment she sheepishly smiled at me.
Source: Dr. Lynda

She seemed bound by cultural norms of some sort, and destined to spend her youth enslaved to this family. To this day, I’m not sure if they thought of their female children as worthless, and she was a daughter, or if she was child labor, an indentured servant with nowhere else to go, or simply a human being, bought and sold.

In any case, I have this photo to remember that day. I have never forgotten the sickening feeling and inspiration that her situation gave me.

I have since felt compelled to try to change the world – in some small way – for the boys and girls in it.

Image: Dr. Lynda and a group of Nepali Children

Dr. Lynda, EWC founder, with a group of children in Nepal who gave her a tour of their village.
Source: Dr. Lynda

Though many of the people helped by Narayanan need much more than a meal, his charitable organization, at AkshayaTrust.org is an interesting place to have a look around. You can also visit the Akshaya Trust Facebook page.

One more thought about exercising your own muscles for generosity of spirit.

Generosity doesn’t have to include money. Be kind when your first impulse is to be aggravated. Buy the guy working in the bitter cold a cup of hot coffee. Pay a compliment to a stranger or new acquaintance.

And what if you are stuck in a meaningless job? Maybe that kind of a place is just waiting for one person to start a little movement of small kindnesses, mentoring, positive feedback!

Image: Winding road in Vermont fall landscape

Source: Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Bottom line: Give someone the feeling they are valuable and their life has meaning…and your life will have more meaning too. It’s a good place to start no matter how you spend your day. 

Thanks for stopping by today. We’ll be here tomorrow with another article to put a spring in your step. It is still an amazing world!

Meanwhile, stay open, curious and hopeful.

~ Dr. Lynda

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Notes:

  1. “CNN: Feeding the Hungry, Nourishing the Soul.” YouTube. CNN, 24 Nov. 2010. Web. 12 Nov. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZiC_9RHTvsA>.
  2. CNN Heroes, “Top 10 Hero: Narayanan Krishnan.” cnn.com, 2010.
  3. Krishnan, Narayanan. “The Joy Of Giving : Narayanan Krishnan at TEDxGateway.” YouTube. TEDx Talks, 15 Feb. 2012. Web. 7 Dec. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WPOEXZNEgg>.

Dr. Lynda is a dentist, artist, global traveler, and philanthropist who looks for potential and shares it with the world.