Yesterday was #GivingTuesday, an initiative started at 92Y to complement Thanksgiving’s day of gratitude. Following Black Friday and Cyber Tuesday, #GivingTuesday is a wonderful reminder of one of the values that sustains and defines this country—generosity.


One of the most obvious ways to participate in #GivingTuesday is to donate to your charity or cause of choice—and, indeed, yesterday, my e-mail inbox was full of messages from non-profit organizations who depend on the support of donors to operate.


Of course, it’s important to contribute to such organizations, but it would be a shame to think that the only way you can participate in this day of generosity is by pulling out your credit card when, in fact, there are many ways to give that don’t involve money.


You could, for example, perform random acts of kindness at work, or pay for the person’s order behind you at the drive-thru. You could go out of your way to give some love to a friend who’s down or call your parents and tell them how much they mean to you. Whatever you do, the ripples of your generosity have the potential to spread, inspiring the people who you touch with your generosity to be generous in turn. Though #GivingTuesday is now behind us, we should incorporate the spirit of giving into our everyday lives with acts of generosity, small and large.


Emily Esfahani Smith, who conducted the Q&A with Kirkpatrick, is the author of The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters (Crown). She writes about psychology, culture, and relationships. Her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Time, The Atlantic, and other publications. Emily is also a columnist for The New Criterion, as well as an editor at the Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, where she manages the Ben Franklin Circles project, a collaboration with the 92nd Street Y and Citizen University to build purpose and community throughout the nation.