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Golden Rule Flourishing
Ten Ways of Giving

Photo: Stephen G. Post speaking

Everyone wants a simple and workable philosophy of everyday life that will lead to flourishing. I presented one in my best-selling book called Why Good Things Happen to Good People: How to Live a Longer, Happier, Healthier Life by the Simple Act of Giving (with journalist Jill Neimark).

First, take good care of yourself, and second, love your neighbor in the same way. The Golden Rule tells us to treat others as we would have them treat us, or in other words, love your neighbor as yourself. 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. This is a reliable law of life found in every successful organization or tradition. It leaves arrogance and selfishness behind so that there is room in life for others and for humanity. This kind of giving is expressed in different ways depending on the needs of those around us. Here are ten ways of giving that mean a lot to me:

  1. Loyalty is love made visible in sticking with others through the peaks and valleys of their lives, and letting them know that they can count on you in tough times. If you can’t be loyal to people when they are down and a little banged up, you don’t deserve them when they are at their best. Commitments must sometimes be reconsidered, but never frivolously or in betrayal.
  2. Celebration is love made visible in gratefully acknowledging the worth of people’s lives, including your own, and by joyfully highlighting their benchmark achievements.
  3. Helping is love made visible in acts of generosity small and large, elevating the happiness and hope in the giver who is unconstrained by a “pay back” mentality.
  4. Forgiveness is love made visible in freeing others from the turmoil of their guilt and in opening up the possibility of reconciliation based on apology; it frees us from vengeful emotions that eat away at our happiness and creative pursuits. Bitterness is like acid on metal. Be resilient by contributing to the lives of others even in hard times, and be confident that you will eventually gain a deeper perspective on what has occurred.
  5. Carefrontation is love made visible in honestly addressing the destructive behavior of others, especially when they have inflicted wanton harm, while staying grounded in an underlying concern for them despite the unfortunate realities of our shared human nature.
  6. Mirth is love made visible in tastefully reframing a situation with humor and laughter that do not diminish but rather uplift. Mirth is the lightness of love, and it is hard to imagine love with laughter.
  7. Respect is love made visible in looking more deeply at the opinions of others (re- spectare meaning to re-look). It is to take the life journeys and opinions of others, more seriously. It includes civility in discourse and etiquette in speech and behavior.
  8. Attentive listening is love made visible in the focused presence that sets aside your own narrative in favor of those of others, undistracted and unhurried.
  9. Compassion is love made visible in responding actively to alleviate suffering when we see it, and formed in some degree of affective empathy.
  10. Creativity is love made visible in using your unique talents for the benefit of others in innovative ways.

Each of these ways of love benefits others, but as a side-effect, it also benefits the giver. Post offers spellbinding stories of individuals who engage in these ways of love, and an easy-to-take validated survey that tells us about our strengths in these areas, and also suggests areas where we might work to improve ourselves. The scale also indicates the extent to which we keep in mind not just the nearest and dearest, but humanity as a whole.

Post offers proven techniques for being intentional about these ways of giving on a daily basis using relaxation techniques, visualization, journaling, and weekly small group one-hour reflection circles.