Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Living Happy #6: Be Generous

A friend of mine used to tell a story about how he got fired from a job one time when he was very young and just out on his own for the first time.  He was operating a forklift in a grocery warehouse, turned a little too sharply and caught the edge of a stack of product--a whole pallet loaded with boxes of glass jars of pickles went over.  His boss had told him twice that day to slow down, so almost before the boxes hit the floor, my friend found himself out of a job.  And his employer kept his check to help cover the damages he'd caused.

His rent was due.  There was little gas in his car.  He had $2 in his wallet.  He didn't know what he was going to do.  It seemed like the end of the world to him.  He drove to a little park nearby so he could walk and think about his problem.   As he's walking through the park, a man walks up to him and asks him for help.  He's homeless.  My friend laughed when he realized he may be homeless himself in another week, then reached into his wallet and gave the man his last $2.  As that homeless man is walking away, my friend realized just how fortunate he was.  He said that moment changed the way he looked at life for the rest of his life.  Instead of focusing on what he didn't have he began to look at what he did have.  He had a car.  He had an apartment.  He had nice clothes.  He had food in the fridge.  That homeless man didn't have any of those things.  All my friend was lacking was a job--and the next day, he found a better one.  

For the rest of his life, through lean times and prosperous times, my friend donated time and money to causes he felt were important--and he rarely talked about it.  During the lean times he donated what he had, which was his time and sweat.  During his prosperous years, he wrote checks on top of donating his time.  He helped build houses with Habitat for Humanity.  He raised money for Christian missions.  He collected canned goods for the food pantry, and aluminum cans for the Boy Scouts.  He'd often buy an extra sandwich at lunch and hand it to a homeless person on his way back to work.  

He'd be pretty upset with me for telling this story, because he believed that giving should be done privately.  He believed that motive mattered.  He didn't donate so much time and money to charities over decades for his own glory--he did it because he wanted to make the world a better place, he wanted to live a life that would please God, and most importantly he would admit--because it made him feel so good to do it.  

You'll never feel more properous and happy as you will when you take the time to give something back.  You may not be rich, but there is still a way you can make the world a better place.  It could be writing a check, donating time to a food pantry, giving blood, or cleaning out your closet and donating clothes to a local charity.  If you want to feel prosperous and happy, don't sit around waiting to receive--go out and give something!

~Todd E. Creason

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