Tuesday, February 3, 2015

A Year for Giving

One question I hear a lot of people asking regularly (and one I used to frequently ask myself) is how to make a new year different from previous ones.  Well, after a long career spent studying and teaching the foundations of happiness and success, one of the best ways I’ve found to start making positive changes right away is to start giving, whether it’s time, money, or simply of yourself.  Giving is a sure-fire way to guarantee that things will begin to look very different in your life… I can’t tell you exactly how, but the universe has a way of noticing and responding to generosity!

Here are two amazing examples of young people who were big inspirations to me coming into 2015…

Rahat, a young magician best known for his hidden-camera prank videos, did something a bit different last Spring:  he played a joke with a happy ending.  He went to a local convenience store and asked the cashier to play along with what he was about to do, then handed the cashier a thousand dollars.  Afterwards, he went out into the neighborhood looking for Eric, a homeless individual in the area who was always friendly and respectful despite his difficult circumstances.

Rahat told Eric that he wanted to help him, but that he didn’t have any money to offer.  He did, however, have a winning lottery ticket he wanted to give Eric.  He said he didn’t know how much the prize was, but that he’d go with Eric to cash it in and see.

The two men walked to the convenience store and presented the ticket.  Eric was in utter disbelief when the cashier counted out ten hundred dollar bills for a total of a thousand dollars.  At first, he simply didn’t believe it, then tried to share the money with Rahat.  Rahat politely declined, and Eric, in tears, said he had been on the streets a long time, and that no one had ever done anything like that for him.

News of Rahat’s generous act and Eric’s attempt to share the money soon spread across the Internet, and moved thousands of strangers to help Eric even more.  Within weeks, nearly $60,000 had been raised in a fund Rahat set up to collect donations to help secure Eric a new home.  Quick to give back, Eric began sharing the accumulated donations with others still living on the streets.

A similar story unfolded toward the end of the year, when a young art student named Dominique was stranded one night in the British city of Preston after losing her bank card.  As she tried to figure out what to do, a homeless man known in the neighborhood as Robbie offered her his last three British pounds for a taxi to get her home safely.

Dominique was so touched by the kind gesture that she set out to learn more about him.  The more she asked, the more positive things she heard, about Robbie returning wallets untouched to pedestrians and offering his scarf to keep people warm.  She found out that he had been homeless for seven months through no fault of his own, but couldn’t get work due to having no address.

That’s when she decided to change Robbie’s life.  She set up a crowdfunding campaign asking for donations of only £3 — the same amount Robbie had offered her — with the goal of collecting 30,000 pounds to get him off the streets and into his own place.  She even spent a night on the street to raise awareness for the campaign.  Within two weeks, Dominique had raised 32,245 British pounds for Robbie (over $50,000 in U.S. dollars) from hundreds of caring strangers, more than enough to help him get back on his feet.

On the surface, what these stories have in common is how they utilized online donation platforms to help homeless individuals change their circumstances.  But those are just superficial similarities.  The most important commonalities were the selfless giving of both Rahat and Dominique, and how their actions sparked the generosity of countless others.  When you’re thinking about what you can do to make 2015 your best year yet, keep these stories in mind, and realize how just beginning the process of giving can have a tremendous impact on lives all around you, as well as increasing your own happiness in the process!

Until next week...

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