A CBS piece shared the story of Dale Schroeder, a humble man from Iowa. He worked as a carpenter at the same company for 67 years. He never married and had no children.
Since he had no living relatives, he approached his lawyer about a plan for his money after he passed away. His lawyer asked him how much he was talking about, and Schroeder said, “A little shy of $3 million.” The lawyer said he almost fell out of his chair when Schroeder told him the amount.
Schroeder never had the opportunity to attend college himself. However, he wanted to help kids from Iowa who otherwise would not have the opportunity to receive a college education. Schroeder passed away in 2005, but his legacy lives on.
In all, Schroeder provided college tuition for 33 people. They call themselves “Dale’s Kids.” They’re now teachers, therapists, and doctors, among other professions. None of them have any college debt—thanks to Schroeder. While they can’t thank Schroeder personally, they can show generosity by passing his generosity on to others.
Certainly, giving financially to a worthy cause is one way to be generous, but that’s not the only way. You can also show generosity by giving your time or lending a listening ear.
For example, a 90-year-old woman sent a note to her next-door neighbor. She said she was lonely, scared, and had no friends. Then, she asked the neighbor if she’d consider spending some time with her. Sometimes just your presence is an incredibly generous gift.
However you choose to be generous, here’s the really cool thing: not only does it benefit the person you are helping; it also benefits you.
“Helping is love made visible in acts of generosity small and large,” says best-selling author of Why Good Things Happen to Good People, speaker and Stony Brook professor, Stephen G. Post.
Post says that showing generosity is good for our self-esteem and well-being.
In a study of people over the age of 65, those who volunteered in the past scored higher in life satisfaction and had fewer symptoms of sickness. Those who did not volunteer proved to be sicker and unable to give to others. Post believes that feeling happy and connected to others are fundamental components to overall health, and that being generous with others forms bonds that are meaningful which then increases our happiness. Being a generous giver actually makes us want to be more giving in the future.
Post also finds that showing generosity is empowering. It inspires others to be compassionate and pay it forward.
“When the happiness and security of others is as meaningful to you as your own, you are a person of love and you will flourish,” Post says.
Being generous is contagious.
When someone else is generous to you, it encourages you to show generosity to others, too. Giving of your time and resources can really feel good, and it has the potential to create a ripple effect of kindness in your home and community. Giving to others is powerful and makes for happier, healthier people.
Think about the many ways you have experienced blessings from others and the chance you have to bless people you know, as well as perfect strangers. The good news is, you don’t have to have saved $3 million dollars in order to be generous.
This article originally appeared in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on November 23, 2019.