Stealing is subtractive

The punishment of the perpetrator doesn’t make the victim whole. There is always a net loss. This doesn’t just apply to theft of physical items or money. It can also be taking someone’s time and attention.

Now consider generosity. The act of being generous itself produces something. A story. Advice. Goodwill. Even products.

A common generous act is a large tip for good service. With extra cash, the server can treat themselves, or turn around and also be generous with someone else. A nice gift. A donation. Helping a friend through a rough time. The generosity can be passed down multiple times over at times.

Or consider a story, posted for free on the web, that entertains and enlightens. In a better mood, we take better care of our loved ones, who also end up in a better mood. That initial story was generous, creating a cycle of happiness.

Or consider advice, it can increase the value of the knowledge the recipient already has. It’s possible an engineer knows how to run a certain design software, and some quick tips may help run it even quicker, allowing more work to be done in less time. This may mean showing up more often for dinner with the family at 5, leading to more relaxation in the evening, and more productivity in subsequent days. A generous cycle of productivity.

By being generous, value is created, even if it can’t be quantified. More than that, generosity tends to start cycles, though if they continue is usually based on the recipient.