“Not only do I think being nice and kind is easy but being kind, in my opinion, is important.” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
If you haven’t seen the movie Rudy (1993) by now you cannot complain if anything below contains spoilers.
I don’t know any men who have watched the movie “Rudy” and not cried towards the end of it, although there is likely a large population of men who will deny such an event ever took place. If you are not familiar with the story of Rudy I suggest you check it out on Crackle or NetFlix.
My wife and I recently started watching Newsroom (on HBO) and are almost done with the first season. The last episode we watched involved continual references to the movie Rudy, culminating in a Rudyesque ending for the main character played by Jeff Daniels (who is a surprisingly good actor in this show.) . Yes I actually teared up a bit watching that episode of Newsroom simply because I was imagining I was watching the similar scene from Rudy.
My wife never saw the movie so the last scene in the show was kind of lost on her. When the episode was over I tried to explain the scene in Rudy and finally gave up. Instead, I made my wife watch the last 30 minutes of Rudy with me. By the end of that 30 minutes my wife was in tears.
There are a number of moving scenes: his family showing up for his last game, Rudy running out of the tunnel and also when his teammates carry him off the field. My favorite scene is when Coach Devine is sitting in his office and one by one players come into his office prior to the last game of the season (Rudy’s final game as a senior). Each player comes in and lays his jersey on the coach’s desk and says “I want Rudy to take my place, Coach.”
For those of you who haven’t seen the movie you can read about the real life Rudy here. In short, Rudy was a walk on at Notre Dame but never dressed, let alone played in a game, until his last game. In real life the jersey scene in the coaches office never happened. Coach Devine was not nearly as big of a jack ass as the movie portrays him and it was actually his own decision to allow Rudy to dress and play in the final game.
You need to know NONE of that matters here.
There is something very powerful and moving when a person or group of people go out of their way to do something nice for another person or group of people. This is even more true when they have no extra motivation for doing so. It happens so rarely (and is reported on even less) that when you see it happen, even in a fictional story, it is hard not to be moved by the generosity and selfless actions.
Despite how moving and life changing these types of events can be, it is unfortunate people aren’t more generous towards others nor do we go out of our way to do something meaningful for someone else. It becomes even more of a mystery because so many of us have been blessed with many great opportunities in life, you would think it is second nature to want to “pay it forward.” It not only makes us and others feel good but also comes with a whole host of health benefits. There are multiple studies indicating as much and the Bible also talks of the benefits to living generously. Here is another blog about its benefits. Keep in mind generosity doesn’t always mean you have to give money. Many people would prefer having your time over your money so keep that in mind. Please note I am talking about something more significant than holding the door for another person or saying “God bless you” when someone sneezes. Everyone does that (for the most part.)
So how can we be more generous with our resources? Well here are a few tips and helpful suggestions.
1. Quit Being Selfish
As men this is one of our biggest issues. I am always surprised when I talk to men, how selfish they are about being kind to others (including their wives) and how stubborn they can be about sacrificing their own needs for the sake of their relationships. If you have the power, ability and resources to be kind to another person why would you withhold that kindness? The only reasonable response is: because I am selfish.
It is not always easy of course but unless you make a conscious effort to work on it you won’t ever be able to set aside your selfish ways. Here is a perfect example.
This past Friday, my wife had a very stressful and emotional day. She spent the better part of Friday morning and afternoon being very upset about a situation that was beyond her control and it interfered with her accomplishing a goal she set for herself that week. Her and I spoke around 11am and it was clear she had been crying. I am fortunate that I work close to my apartment (8 minute subway ride) so I came home on my lunch break so she wouldn’t have to be home alone and miserable at least not all day. I didn’t buy her flowers or chocolate or anything else. I just came home and hung out with her for 20 minutes and then returned to work.
Later that night she was craving several unique food combinations and I had no problem running to the store to pick up a few things. Would I have preferred to stay home? Yes. Could I have stayed home and she would be okay? Yes. Did she make me go? No. I was even feeling selfish about it to be honest “no one does nice things for me blah blah blah.” What else was I doing that was so important? Nothing, just watching baseball. So I left the apartment, bought her stuff and came home. Maybe 20 minutes round trip and $12 spent.
All those things took a terrible day for her, one she thought was not redeemable and turned it into a great day for her. She was happy. I was happy and it ended up kicking off a great weekend together. I would have done that three times that night if it meant it would make her life, even if just for one hour, a little bit better.
2. Pay Attention & Listen
Here are two other issues men seem unable to grasp. If you are unsure in what ways you can be generous with your time, resources and/or money than either you never leave the house or you don’t pay any attention to what people are doing or saying around you. Just the other day I was asking God for more opportunities to do nice things for strangers here in New York. The next day on my way to work I blew right by a young mother who was struggling to get her stroller down the subway stairs. I didn’t even give her a second notice as I was hurrying to get to work (I am such a dedicated EY employee after all!)
It wasn’t until I got to work that I realized I had missed a chance to help her and her kids get down into the subway. I felt terrible for not noticing and kicked myself all day about the missed opportunity.
Most people have no problem telling others about what would make their life better, they just rarely do so directly. The example above with my wife she didn’t say she wanted me to run out and get her something. She simply mentioned how badly she was craving it. I could just ignore her and what she was really saying (like a typical jackass husband would do) or I could go get it for her because I was actually listening.
Authors Note: For those of you who claim that I am whipped or a trained puppy, please see the above referenced jack ass comment because it applies to you. You don’t have the balls to be a blessing to your wife I am sure another man will. Better get your shit together.
The truth is people all around you are giving off clues about the needs they have in their lives. You can’t meet all of their needs nor can you meet even some of the needs of everyone in your life. However, there are some very basic needs that you can help with if you just pay attention and listen. Many of them won’t even cost you a dime, only your time (insert phat beat here.)
3. Getting Credit is for School, Not Life
I am a huge Seinfeld fan and this clip (please forgive the subtitles it was the only version I could find) is a good example of my point.
If you haven’t gotten over #1 above you will probably always struggle with this one too. Who cares who, if anyone, gets credit for your generosity? If the real goal is to do something nice for someone than who cares if they ever know it is you?
The best way to avoid this scenario is to try to do whatever it is without anyone knowing it was you. Sometimes it will work and sometimes it won’t. The point is trying to do it not because you want people to think you are so amazing but because you truly want to try to do something nice for someone who has a need.
4. Don’t Expect Anything In Return
Do I really need to explain this?
As guys we can be the worst when we do “nice” things for our wives or significant other only because we are trying to get laid or receive permission (seriously, permission?) to hang out with the boys. First, if you have to manipulate her into having sex with you then you have some much more serious problems in your relationship. Second, if applying for parole is required to hang out with your boys this means one of three things: a) you are knucklehead who can’t be trusted to act like an adult when your wife isn’t around; b) you need to dump her (unless you are married, in which case you are just screwed…but not the kind you want.); or c) find whatever she has done with your testicles and reattach them.
Ladies- don’t get cocky, you are just as bad about this as men are.
I am not wasting any more time on this.
5. What’s The Worst That Will Happen?
The worse thing is someone is not going to be grateful and/or you might become a target for people to take advantage of your generosity. I can think of a dozen things much worse than those and I am pretty sure you can manage those easily enough.
You might even find that what goes around comes around (in the good meaning of that phrase) and you also will be the recipient of someone else’s generosity and favor. Again this isn’t a reason for being generous but if it happens as a result all the better for you!
There is really no downside in being generous and going out of your way to make someone else’s day better or helping someone accomplish a dream or goal for their life. Put your personal hangups and selfishness to the side and whoknows, maybe one day they will make a movie about you!
Until tomorrow, make it a better day!