Children growing up in New Orleans learn the meaning of Lagniappe (lan-yap) very quickly. When they go for Sunday beignets and they find an extra donut in the bag, they know they have hit the jackpot. When Cajun Grannies go to the French Market and the vendors give them an extra tomato, or a bunch of parsley that they didn’t request, Lagniappe is to blame. It’s what the locals call “a little something extra… somethin’ for nothin…” It’s an unexpected benefit, an act for Goodness’ sake.
Lagniappe doesn’t have to be a big deal. As a matter of fact, most people handing out Lagniappe don’t draw attention to themselves. They sneak the extra donut in the bag, knowing you won’t notice until you are home and enjoying your extra treasure.
Maybe it’s a message on your Starbucks cup that you see once you get in your car, simply wishing you a good day. It’s a little something extra to bring a smile to your face. Maybe it’s when you ask your teenager for a hug, and they give you a kiss, too. The secret of Lagniappe is that it is a little bit of unexpected Good.
Cultivating Goodness doesn’t have to be a herculean task. A little something extra, plus a little something extra, plus a little something extra equals a Good bit of Good. Who do you know who always gives without expecting anything in return? You’ll probably notice they tend to be very happy. The Keepers of the Good understand what Francis of Assisi taught, “it is in giving that we receive.” We grow love, we grow kindness, and we grow joy in the act of giving a little something extra, with absolutely no intention of collecting in return.
Have you found Lagniappe in your life lately? What “little something extra” are you doing for Goodness’ sake?