August 19, 2015

I Secretly Left $20 Bills for Perfect Strangers: The Relationship of Giving & Happiness.

love heart quote

Imagine coming out of the grocery store only to find a white envelope with a hand written note on the front that says, “This is a sign you are loved!” and a $20 bill inside.

Or imagine walking along a forest trail, seeing something blowing in the wind on that rock outcropping ahead and picking up an envelope that says, “More good things are coming your way!” and finding a $20 bill inside.

Imagine amongst that stack of bills in your mailbox is one lone envelope that says, “You are being taken care of!” and a $20 bill inside.

How would you feel?

For the last month or so, I have been imagining the faces of people who discover the tiny gifts of love and support that I left all over my community. Since early July I have anonymously dropped over $300 (a small amount, really) into white envelopes with a special note and left them around Durham region, the area where I live just outside Toronto, Canada.

I have told no one. Until now.

And I am sharing now because perhaps, just maybe, this post will inspire you to pay it forward in any small way, or at the minimum it will be a good news story in your day. I don’t want kudos or recognition—in fact I deliberated sharing this ever; not even my husband knew about this (until now). I did not do it to get anything in return. At all.

That was actually my point.

I have studied Law of Attraction, Manifestation and creation for over 15 years and I sometimes felt a tone of “if you do something good, you will get what you want” in some of the teachings. I don’t want to bargain with the universe over my karma. I don’t want to say, “Hey universe, I am a good person. I do good things. Where is my payout?” So I challenged myself to just give with no expectation at all. Well that and, because it made me freaking happy—like gleefully, I just ate all the cake, happy.

The idea struck me during the week of my birthday in July. I was in a bookstore and I snuck $5 into three different books and put them back on the shelf. I was giggling as I walked out of the store, imagining someone picking up a book and five bucks falling out. Then I thought, “Let’s take this further.” I went home and wrote out my envelopes with tiny messages and started dropping $20 bills all over the place. It was so fun!

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali speaks of the term “aparigraha” which is often translated as non-grasping or an awareness of the abundance of the universe. We often consider that we would like to receive that abundance but what if we could actually be it too. I wanted to give, just for the fun of giving. I don’t want to come off as self-righteous or as a do-gooder, but it was actually a challenge to myself. I wanted to see if I could walk the talk so to speak. And I did have a moment when I thought, “I should really put this on my Visa!” but I decided to give it away and trust the Visa would be taken care of.

I did not win the lottery. No uncle left me a fortune. I did not receive a visit from Ed McMahon but I was happy. And that’s the point, don’t you think, of all we do in this life—to experience a semblance of joy, and for a moment to make another smile? We are here to experience our truth: that we are happy, radiant, worthy beings now.

To paraphrase Abraham Hicks: all that we want in this life is because we believe we will feel better in the having of it. That is, we believe we will be happy when the money comes, when the lover shows up or when the mortgage is paid. We want those thing to make us happy. But nothing can make us happy—we are happiness, we are joy, we are abundance, we are Divine, and all those things we want in this life are really just a mirror of what is already there. 

When we access that truth within us, well that’s when the tiny white envelopes start showing up (or the big envelopes) but happy comes first.

I don’t know who picked up my white envelopes. I don’t know whose mailboxes I dropped envelopes into, whose windshield I bombed or whose favourite park bench held a surprise, but now my secret is revealed. I hope it does not take away from the magic but only adds to it. I plan to keep doing this and much more to keep the circle of giving full and to feed the field with surprise, delight, magic and wonder.

Wishing you many happy, white, anonymous envelope moments!





The 6 Perfections: Generosity.


Author: Shasta Townsend

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Jen Lemen/Flickr

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