Family Magazine

The Kindness of Boomers and Millennials

By Sandwichedboomers @SandwichBoomers

Kindness word cloudA friendly encounter or gentle conversation has the power to set the tone for your day. And your attitude can be the catalyst to an act of Generativity, a term coined in the 1950s by Dr. Erik Erickson. He describes a stage of psychosocial development when older adults have a strong desire to give back. It often takes the form of nurturing actions or creating changes that help others.

Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said: It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.

According to Encore CEO Marc Freedman, in a Huffington Post article entitled “Generativity Revolution,”…. eight million Americans are already in ‘encore careers’ that combine their passions with purpose, in fields such as education, health and the environment.” Often, one of the first decisions Baby Boomers make in retirement is to do volunteer work “in causes greater than themselves…. that benefit future generations.”

With all the turmoil in the world today, thinking about unselfishness is not often in the foreground. But, as New York Times columnist David Brooks notes, “older adults display generativity every day, to their children, their grandchildren and their communities.”

Interestingly, recent surveys show that Millennials see volunteering as a way to further their career goals while making a difference. They want to work for those who are socially responsible, and companies are responding to their expectations. So Millennials wanting employee volunteer opportunities and managers hoping to create deeper engagement among employees are slowly shifting the corporate kindness landscape.

Some think that part of a meaningful life is lending a helping hand. Others are grateful for their good fortune or want to leave a legacy. Whether you’re a Millennial looking for work, a Baby Boomer easing into retirement, or an intergenerational alliance, here are first steps to jumpstart your kindness project:

  • Explore a project you believe in
  • Find a network of like-minded people
  • Connect with mentors and resources
  • Turn obstacles into opportunities
  • Stay dedicated to your passion

When we understand our relationship to a broader world, we seek to make it better, not just for ourselves but for others. Follow the urge to make an impact and experience the fringe benefits. There’s proof from many studies that acts of kindness can increase your feeling of connectedness and impact your brain in powerful ways.


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