I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be financially secure lately, and what kind of responsibilities that brings. Probably because of the Get Rich Slowly audition, I guess. Although, being a financial analyst means money is never really far from my mind.
I find that I often take the things I have for granted. I know that I’ve often found myself concerned with buying a home, or paying for my education, or “needing” new clothes for my job, and I don’t take into account the fact that something like 40% of the people on the planet live on less than $2 US a day.
That’s mind-blowing to me. And, we’re not talking about places where $2 could even buy a decent meal; this is abject poverty.
I know I need to be thankful more often than just the fourth Thursday in November. One of the ways that I try to keep this in mind is by giving.
Philanthropy is at the heart of any successful life.
It’s just that I’ve gotten to the point where I find it easy to give money to causes and institutions I support. It’s become a mindless thing for me. Every time I get paid, I write a check. It’s a habit. I don’t say this to toot my own horn. I’m sure that many of you are in the same situation.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the proverb, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for today. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.” I’m a big proponent of teaching people how to fish. The thing is, that kind of philanthropy involves giving much more than money. It requires our most precious of resources.
It requires our time.
We have to get involved in other people’s lives to teach them how to fish. It’s a lot more personal that simply writing a check. You need to develop relationships and share insights with the folks you’re helping.
You put yourself out there, and more often than not, you don’t get anything tangible back.
But there’s a change that goes on inside of you. A change that makes you a more attentive individual. You become more attuned to seeing needs in other people, and you begin to focus less on your own.
I feel like maybe I need to do something more. I’m getting to a place where I want to “give till it hurts”, or at least until it’s inconvenient.
Being satisfied in any situation is a sign that it’s time to push yourself further. When it stops being challenging, you stop growing. I’ve found I’m not doing enough to focus on other people besides myself.
I firmly believe that focusing on others makes you a better person. It brings growth that no amount of personal development can possibly bring. Not that the stuff I’ve written about before on this blog isn’t important; it is. It’s just that reaching out to someone in need doesn’t just help you. It helps another person.
It can provide dignity and honor to someone for whom those traits have been in short supply.
So, tomorrow I’ve scheduled a meeting with some folks in my local area who are doing some great things in trying to combat corruption in political leadership around the world. It’s an area that interests me, and I’m going to make an effort to start doing more than just giving money to causes I care about.
Maybe this issue isn’t something that you’re concerned about. That’s okay. There are plenty of organizations out there that need your help, with all kinds of different agendas and areas of concern. The common denominator is they’re all trying to make the world a better place.
Join me, won’t you? Take this opportunity to really think about some causes that are important to you. If you don’t currently financially support some of those causes, start. It doesn’t have to be much; most causes need all the financial help they can get.
And, if you can’t afford to give money (and even if you can), consider giving time. It’s the most important thing you can do to really start being your best.
Let us know of some practical ways you can begin volunteering your time and money in the comments.