by David DeFord
Not long ago I heard about a study performed on death-bed conversations. The study noted that the two most frequently discussed subjects at the end of one’s life were:
1. Relationships; and
2. Contributions made in one’s life
While we remain in pursuit of many worthwhile personal endeavors, we must always remember to acknowledge and nurture those around us. Those who need nurturing may be our family or our co-workers; but they may also be those in the community at-large.
I have found in my own life, and observed in the life of others that we can attract abundance by serving others. The biblical adage, “We reap what we sow” lives on.
We live fulfilled lives, not by seeking treasure or pleasure for ourselves, but by turning our desires and efforts outward.
By so doing, we put ourselves in the position to deserve success.
Many of us live what I call a “TV existence.” Rather than giving back to the community, and making life for others better, those living the “TV existence” live their lives as passive spectators, always seeking rest and comfort.
How can we fight our way out of such lives?
Start keeping a journal. Leave a legacy to your children of an account of your life. If you record your activities, you will tend to lift yourself off of the sofa and accomplish more meaningful works. No one wants to record in their daily journal, “Today I watched the following sit-coms….”
Find a need and seek to fill it Look for opportunities to make a contribution to the good of others.
On a Monday not long ago, as I took my lunchtime walk around a nearby lake, I noticed a great deal of trash left by the weekend recreationalists. I fumed in my mind for ten minutes or so, and then decided I should do something positive. The next day, Tuesday, as I walked, I brought along a trash bag and a stick with a nail on the end for picking up trash. I was able to get my exercise, and at the same time, pick up a few pounds of trash. My walks on Wednesday and Thursday filled me with warmth and gladness at seeing the results of my simple labor.
Continue giving money, but begin giving time. Financial Contributions are praise-worthy, but the joy of writing a check cannot be compared to that that comes from hugging a cancer patient or feeding the homeless. When we give our time, the feeling of generosity lasts much longer.
Involve your whole family and others A good experience shared is a greater one. When united in a good cause, our relationships become richer.
Many years ago I managed several programmers developing software to be used by nursing home personnel. They had developed that “ivory tower” attitude that the users were idiots, and they were the superiors. There was also terrible job dissatisfaction and turnover in the department. I had to find a way to help them feel a greater purpose in their labors. I began taking them to some of the nursing homes, and had them volunteer. Not once in their visits did they watch their software being used. Instead, they helped with activities, gave manicures, and served food.
Almost immediately, the tone of the department changed. They viewed their work more as a purposeful calling than as a difficult labor. They gained an admiration for the workers who used their products. And they began working more as a team. The sense of meaning and unified purpose changed everything.
The same effect can result when we involve our families in serving others.
Who needs your help? Keep your eyes and ears open—opportunities to serve surround us. We just need to become aware. Read your local newspaper and the newsletters from your schools. It’s not hard to find people or agencies that need helpers.
Nursing homes always need visitors and volunteers. The elderly who live at home need yard work, snow removal and home repairs. Youth need athletic coaches, scout leaders, and vocational trainers. Health associations need people to help in the office, stuff envelopes, and many other tasks.
Check your yellow pages for social agencies and service clubs.
Do something right away. I have heard people say that they will first make their fortune, then perform some grand and exotic service to mankind. But I have found that we can do more good by doing many little things throughout our lives—day after day. Samuel Johnson said, “He who waits to do a great deal of good at once, will never do anything.”
Find a worthy cause, and thrust your heart into it. Your community will benefit greatly—and so will you.
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