This content is also available in: Vietnamese
Literal Translation: One piece when hungry is equal to one package when full. English Equivalent: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.
When I was in high school, I had the pleasure of watching Pay It Forward (2000) in my religion class. The film, directed by Mimi Leder, followed 12-year-old Trevor McKinney (played by Haley Joel Osment) who received a class assignment to come up with an action a plan that would change the world for the better. In response, he devises a charitable good deed networking program called “pay it forward.” How it worked was the recipient of a favor, instead of returning the favor to the original patron, would go on to do favors for three other people. They in turn would do favors for more people. This created a colossal butterfly effect.
Our November proverb expresses a similar aim. A helping hand during times of need – even a small gesture of kindness – is worth much more than any gift in your golden days. In the film, Trevor allows a homeless man to stay in his garage. This man later talks a suicidal woman out of jumping off a bridge. We should appreciate those who help us when we’re at our lows and remember this gratitude even after we’ve managed to pick ourselves up again. Studies suggest that kindness boosts happiness and energy levels. Even witnessing it can cause our bodies to release oxytocin (the “love hormone”). The 2016 World Happiness Report, which evaluates and ranks countries by happiness based on income, social support, and freedom to make life choices, found that a key component to a country’s happiness is equality of happiness. It is no wonder that Denmark, a socialist country with high support for welfare, tops the list.
Mahatma Ghandi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” This Christmas, spread love and holiday cheer by taking action. Altruism is contagious.