Big Heart Bragging Or Inspiration?

“The more public we are with our generosity, the more generosity it will inspire.”

                     -Danielle LaPorte

John Halcyon Styn headshot_121612I tweeted something that, when I saw it in my feed, sounded pretty boastful. Or at least sounded like I was bragging about my charitable acts.

Traditionally, charity is something that should be done quietly and anonymously. But I think that should change.

Public acts of good in the social media era is a beautiful thing. Instead of corporate charities filling our mailboxes with expensive marketing materials, we now get bombarded by friends and family sharing their personal fundraising efforts. In my opinion, this is WAY better.

I don’t want to be told what to do. I don’t want to be made to feel bad. I don’t want to be motivated to act as a way to ease my guilt.

I want to be INSPIRED.

That is why there is real value to sharing good deeds publicly.

I loudly broadcast my Kickstarter donations (the projects I back, not the amount), my own fundraising attempts, and my monthly visits to help the homeless for 1st Saturdays.

Why? Because we need as many examples as possible of people doing the right thing. Russell Brand bought breakfast for a bunch of homeless recently and it was all over the celeb blogs. Great! We need role models who demonstrate basic compassion. And really, that is what we are talking about: Basic Compassion. Nobody is giving up their fortunes or donating livers here. We are talking about sharing tiny pieces of our massive time & money resources.

I’m no movie star, but I am a happy person. And I receive joy from small acts of service and charity. To keep that portion of myself secret feels like a disservice.

When my friends and I started giving to the homeless every 1st Saturday of the month, we had several long conversations about how public we wanted to be and how anonymous. Eventually we decided to boldly invite everyone to join us on our monthly outings.

What started as three guys in San Diego is now regularly over 60 volunteers with huge amounts of donated clothing & food. Plus, satellite groups have started in SF, Atlanta, CO, & British Columbia. How many 1000’s of people were helped because we made our acts public?

I know there is fine line between sharing acts of service and bragging. And the line has mostly to do with intent. But, truthfully, I’m not too concerned with that. I would much rather live in a world where examples of kindness and compassion were everywhere. A world where it is just understood that service should be as much a part of our day as chilling with our cat or eating lunch – and we would share those things online with the same regularity.

I’ve been surprised over the last few years with how little actual charity is required before people start to view you as a philanthropist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m flattered that people see me as kind-hearted. But it is a bit disappointing that the bar is so low. The good news is that the barrier to entry for being “a good person” is also low. Just a few hours a month can put you in the category of “Being the Change.” To me, that is exciting and encouraging! That is something that should not be kept secret.

And that is why I share what I share. Not to brag, but to role-model. To invite others to experience the same joy that I do – and then share it!

The world starts to change when you start to change who you are in the world.

What are you doing to spread Love in the world? Please share!




John Halcyon Styn is the author of Love More. Fear Less. & hosts a “Heart Recalibration” podcast called HugNation every Tuesday.

  • Hm…this is definitely food for thought for me.  I also have bought into the idea that charity should be done quietly.  Not to brag about it.  You’re doing it for someone else, after all, why should you get credit and praise? 

    But I see your point.  The more we see other people doing generous, kind acts, the more inspired it makes us.  If we feel like “I’m the only one doing anything so why bother,” then it doesn’t do much good. 

    I guess my thing is I’m usually SO concerned with other people’s feelings, that I’m afraid if I talk about all the good I’m doing for others, it’ll make them feel bad b/c they’re not doing as much for others. 
    But you know what – if they feel bad, then maybe there’s a reason.  Maybe it’s b/c they KNOW they should and could be doing more, but they’re choosing not to.  They don’t feel bad b/c I’m doing something good for others.  Of course as long as I’m not actually boastful and arrogant in their face about it… which I’m not. 

    Why are we (why am I) so concerned with doing good for others QUIETLY? 
    I may just have to change that! 


  • That’s really interesting and something I hadn’t thought that much of in the past. I think it all comes down to what your motivation is behind sharing, or even doing the good work in the first place.  If you do good things just to brag about it, then your good works aren’t going to carry the full positive effect.  And if you love your charitable work but brag just to boost your ego, then that just creates more ego.  So do whatever you want, as long as your intentions are pure and come from a loving place, and it won’t matter what anyone thinks because you have no control of that and have to live your truth no matter what!

  • kathleen

    That is why I love the Buddhist way, it is so simple. If your not doing it out of Loving Kindness you need to rethink doing it. Thank you John for your insightful words & for being the Loving & Kind change we so desparately need in our world!

  • Medredith Henry

    This hits on a blog I recently read regarding our ego and acts of service, and the feel good chemicals we get after helping people. I had suggested that acts of service/showing love to others actually brings us back to our natural state that we were born with. It’s OK to feel important and good after helping others. It’s actually what we were meant to do. We are meant to know we are important, because everyone was born important-just for being. The ego comes into play when we start to view ourselves as more important than others. Everyone is equal, everyone deserves love. 

    I think it’s great you have made a commitment to help change the world by getting involved and showing love to others. May your example spur on many! 

  • Yes, Inspiring–extremely. 

    No, it’s not bragging when you share what you do for others and on behalf of others.  It inspires the rest of us who have an open, loving heart. It encourages us to do likewise– to extend ourselves out of our comfort zone and to act responsibly, and take action in our communities.  We need more responsible and loving actions in our communities, NOW, more than ever, if we want to take our world to a higher level with LOVE and compassion. 
    Compassion is Contagious.

    Oooh, I like that phrase!  I said it outloud just now, and my cat, Bubba turned around and gave me a “head butt.”

  • Wow great article!  Thanks John, I’ve been volunteering for Women’s refuge on Tuesday mornings for about six months now, I love it and yep I’ve kept it quite. 

    I’m looking at things differently now.  I remember watching one of Marie Forleo’s videos and she said ‘if you have a skill and you can help people, it’s your right to provide that service for the people who need it’ (something like that)  I guess I could look at my volunteering the same way.  Tell people what I’m doing and hope that it inspires others to lend a hand too 🙂

    Thanks again

  • I have to share…

    In the short time between writing this article and it being published, something amazing happened:  I was hired by a big company  to help them develop a charity and good deeds arm of their business.  I almost can’t believe how perfect the opportunity is – and it all happened because I have been loudly sharing the joy of giving in my life.  Now I will be given more resources to create more goodness in the world…and hopefully keep those joy ripples going in massive ways.  #Gratitude

  • I’ve been meaning to get to a ‘sock mob’ event for a while now, its London’s equivalent of 1st Saturdays. Your broadcast has inspired me to commit to a date, sign up and start getting together some clothes to take with me. Thanks for sharing and helping others to take action in sharing the love too. 🙂

  • I’ve been meaning to get to a ‘sock mob’ event for a while now, its London’s equivalent of 1st Saturdays. Your broadcast has inspired me to commit to a date, sign up and start getting together some clothes to take with me. Thanks for sharing and helping others to take action in sharing the love too. 🙂