It was over six months ago when my sister called my bubbling with excitement. She wondered if I’d want to go to Chicago for the premiere of Pretty Woman – The Musical. Live. On stage. Oriental Theater. Downtown Chicago. My sister. I was in!
I have a long history with Pretty Woman. To date, it’s the only movie I’ve ever seen twice in a movie theater. I bet I’ve watched it 20 times on VHS and more recently DVD. I even penned the beginnings of a book about the movie!
I’d totally forgotten about even writing the book, and then my sister emailed me the week before I was to come and asked me to re-send it to her. I told her I didn’t think I still had it as that was almost 20 years ago. But lo and behold, I found the file…and it was actually pretty good. In fact, if you’re interested, you can read it here. (If you do read it, you’ll see it was never really finished and there are a few missing details, but you’ll get the idea!)
The trip was magical. Just my sister and I – no husbands, no kids, no grandkids. Our mom died this past summer and it has brought us closer. We both miss her so much and just having this sister time was so special. We felt Mom’s presence with us and more than once turned to each other with tears in our eyes and said, “Mom’s here.”
We stayed at a swanky hotel next to theater (even paid $67 for valet parking! $67!!!). Ate the best Italian pasta to ever cross my lips. Drank French wine with names we couldn’t pronounce. Dressed up fancy just like the city girls! Glorious.
The musical was fantastic. They stuck to the original story line. The songs were uplifting and poignant and appropriate. They kept some of the best iconic lines – “Big mistake. Big. Huge.” “If I forget to tell you later, I had a really good time tonight.” “I can charge anything I want baby, I ain’t lost.” “Take care of you. Take care of you.”
Early on the trip I pulled out my credit card and my sister said, “I’ve got this.” I said, “Ok. You can just put everything on your card and I’ll write you a check for half when we get home.”
When I was preparing to head back home the next morning, I asked Tracy what I owed her for the amazing weekend. She said, “Nothing. This was my treat. I just wanted us to do this and I know it’s making Mom so happy to know we’re doing these fun things together.”
Again, more tears ensued.
But on the drive home, it got me thinking about generosity. And how generosity plays into happiness. That was such a generous gesture on my sister’s part, and it made me feel incredible – loved, warm, appreciated, treated, happy all over! Everything good.
And the best part – it made my sister feel that way too!
HERE’S THE THING – BEING GENEROUS MAKES US HAPPY!
There was this really cool experiment where they gave 100 people money of various amounts. Half were told to spend it on themselves. Half were told to spend it on others. When they surveyed them after, it was the people who spent the money on others that felt the happiest.
LET ME SAY IT AGAIN – BEING GENEROUS MAKES US HAPPY!
So I want to encourage you this month – find ways to be generous. Generous with your money – treat a co-worker to a coffee, go ahead and spend that $5 on a trinket you know your best friend would enjoy, pay for lunch instead of splitting the bill, pay the 50 cent toll for the car behind you. It doesn’t have to be a big amount. In fact, they found the amount didn’t even matter. It was simply the act of giving, that spirit of generosity, that produced the feelings of happiness.
AND…don’t forget about generosity of spirit. Give of yourself as well. Maybe just making time to go have a cup of coffee with a co-worker or taking time for lunch with a friend will be the stretch for you. Maybe it’s calling a sibling you haven’t spoken to in a while or taking time to send an email to someone and let them know you appreciate them.
But one thing is clear, when you are generous, you make others happy and you make yourself happy!
So happy May to each of you!