Generosity Day: A Valentine’s Day alternative

“Valentine’s Day.”

Cue the groans and the eye-rolls. Just the mention of it seems to more frequently induce a gag reflex than it does a warm and bubbly feeling. Those in favor of February 14th seem to be few and far between.

How has it come to this? A day created to express love—one of the most integral qualities of life and possibly the most defining quality of humanity—has been completely transformed into an over commercialized day of high expectations and shallow gifts.

Disdain for the day has seen increasing support of other takes on February 14th such as Singles Awareness Day (S.A.D.) on which singles celebrate (or dwell in) their single status, and Anti-Valentine’s Day.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Why, you ask? Well, let me introduce you to a new kid on the block (and he’s here to stay): Generosity Day.

Generosity Day is a day that asks people to participate in a generosity experiment for one day. For one day, people are to be far more generous to others than they would normally ever be. These acts include:

  • Give money to….a street musician, a homeless person, your favorite charity
  • Take old clothes from your closet and give them to goodwill
  • Leave a $5 tip for a $2 coffee
  • Introduce yourself to someone you see every day but have never said hello to
  • Bring in lunch for your co-workers
  • Give someone a compliment

The idea (as wellas the suggestions above) are to be credited to Sasha Dichter who is the chief officer of innovation at the Acumen Fund. She was struck with the realization of the disconnect between her nonprofit job and her inclination to stare down at her iPhone while frequently passing a man collecting items for homeless people in the subway station.

“So I’ve been thinking that I need to try a generosity experiment,” she writes in her 2009 blog post. “For a period of time, when I’m asked to give, to say yes.  To everything.  To emails and people on the street and friends raising money.  Everyone.  I think it will be good practice.”

She committed herself to a generosity experiment lasting for a month. And the rest is history.

It’s about time we redefined this time of year as a time to show others love and kindness—whether or not we’ve been dating them, are married to them or even know them. This day comes right in the middle of another great idea that is gaining momentum: Random Acts of Kindness week (February 11-17). With all of these great excuses to be kind to someone, why resist? Kindness is contagious and it’s time to spread the love.


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