I remember living in a dark basement storage room underneath an old tattered restaurant in Boulder, Colorado. And I remember my brother and I shivering from the cold — because we didn’t have money. I remember wanting so badly a pair of Air Jordan’s that one point after being told “no” over and over again I truly got angry because we couldn’t afford them. As ridiculous as it sounds, the fact that our cereal came out of a bag instead of a box legitimately made me feel less important than my other friends because we didn’t have money like they did. My first lessons about money were born out of lack.
Lack can be — and was for me — a powerful force in wanting to acquire money. And once I finally got money there was no way I would ever give any of it away. How could I when it represented the very necessities of life?
It would only later be through blind, begrudging and somewhat bewildered faith that I would start to give. It was not because I wanted to give and — although I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it now — it was not because I wanted to help anyone else. My giving started only out of obedience.
Unexpectedly, a gradual transforming and cleansing of my heart started to take place. Warmth, importance and peace entered into my life in a way I had never felt before.
Giving makes you thankful. Now I can so clearly see in the lives of people around me that if you have a hard time giving it’s almost always because you aren’t thankful for what you have. You think of yourself as a thankful person, but you’re not. Until you learn to give, you keep score by money. And when you are keeping score by money and stuff, you spend more time thinking about how to get more than you do about being thankful for what you have now. At this stage, you might have heat in your house but like me, you will still have cold in your heart.
When you give money away you get to see how it fills a need in someone else’s life and somehow in seeing how it makes their life better, it makes you appreciate all the things you have in yours. There is something about giving to another that caused me stop and ask myself, “How many of the things I have in my own life are truly entirely 100 percent in my possession because of only me and my work?” Very quickly, I realize the answer to that question is zero. And because nothing I have is through only my own work, it means that I’m 100 percent codependent on the world around me. Suddenly, in an all-consuming way, I become very thankful for each and everything in my life. Something I didn’t see before.
Giving creates an awareness of abundance. Realizing then that even in my codependence on others I have my basic needs met, I understand that I don’t have to hang on so tightly. I start to see that money comes and goes always in a constant continuous circular flow. There are times when I spend and times when I earn but my attachment to it becomes less and less and I realize that it isn’t a finite resource to be divided up and fought over. It’s a tool of which more can be created of by bringing value to people’s lives.
At this stage, my attitude with money likens to holding a scoop of sand in my hand. I see that the more tightly I squeeze to hold it in, the more that gets away from me. And yet with a gentle grip of a cupped open facing palm, I allow it to come and go. The anger and anxiety over this money has strangely become more peaceful.
Giving gives you freedom. Somehow in lessening my grip on my money I seem to develop a greater strength in acquiring more of it. At this stage I see the irony in how what started as giving something away that was mine, I now realize that none of it really belongs to me but more and more of it comes to me.
My confidence and trust that I will have enough of it enables me to move past the money and focus on a much more satisfying impulse to serve and create value for other people, which only makes more of it show up. As more of it starts to show up the obvious thing to do — and by far the more gratifying thing to do — is to give it away. And giving it away to people who need it has suddenly and inexplicably made me more important to people.
It’s a startling revelation to realize that what I once thought money could bring me by having it, later came to me more by giving it away. What started out as reluctance, birthed gratefulness. Gratefulness bore generosity, generosity created freedom and freedom created a chance for importance. And so long as I maintain my detachment from it, I maintain my ability to gather it. As I have it I give it, and as I give, I receive in return what I always really wanted most.
That’s the mysterious power of giving… at least for me.
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The only difference between the “cell phone plague” and the “bubonic plague” is that the bubonic plague showed physical symptoms of its effects, like coughing, bleeding, etc.
Most people addicted to their cell phones aren’t even conscious of what they’re doing to their lives, especially their loved ones, friends, and children. Or the people they are putting in harm’s way by driving while using their cell phone. According to the National Safety Council, 28 percent of car accidents occur from people talking or text messaging on their cell phones. At least 200,000 car accidents were caused by text messages.
There’s even a term for cell phone addiction called “nomophobia,” meaning “no mobile phone phobia.” For thousands of years, we have operated by having intimate conversations with each other were we laughed, told stories, and connected face to face.
I was at a café recently and saw five teenagers sitting on a couch glued to their cell phones and not talking to each other for an entire hour. They got up to leave, and I saw one of them, still glued to his smart phone, leave his bag. I had to yell across the entire room so loud that I think I disrupted the conversations and work of half the people in the café to tell this young man that he forgot his bag. He runs back, picks up his bag, and says “Thanks man!” then leaves.
It seems like on a day to day basis, I see human beings glued to their cells phones when they could be interacting with other humans. One study suggested that too much stimulus from multiple electronic devices maybe linked to depression and anxiety.
When you’re walking home from work, you don’t need your headphones blaring in your ear.
There is a much greater place to cultivate positive emotions that will make us happier and more fulfilled. Those emotions are within us, and by blocking these feelings with all of our latest technologies we may be harming ourselves. There’s a study that suggests a correlation between mind rumination and depression. By compulsively checking our phones our minds may be ruminating more than ever before.
We need to take back control of our minds and stop compulsively checking our emails, Facebook updates, and text messages. I think we can live a happier and more compassionate world if we tune into ourselves and the people we are speaking with. How many relationships are lost because of lack of communication? Think about what a parent is doing to a child’s emotional well-being when they’re focused on their cell phone rather than their children.
There is an actual device called a “blokket” where you put your cell phone in it and it shuts out all the signals so you can’t receive calls or text messages. Everything in this world is instant gratification — we focus on how many likes we get on our Facebook post, how many retweets on our Twitter page.
I was in a computer store shopping, and I was talking to the sales clerk about how staring at a screen all day affects the eyes. He responded back right away by saying, “It’s just a part of the times.” By doing this, we are setting ourselves up in a sort of prison that disconnects us from the rest of the world.
The goal of enjoying life is to be here now, to live a life full of wonder and astonishment. That way we can truly experience all of what life has to offer.
This is what the practice of mindfulness is all about. Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the pioneers of mindfulness in America, says, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
The goal of mindfulness is to be in the moment, when you’re doing something. Instead of letting your mind ruminate or compulsively check your cell phone. Work on training your focus on what you’re doing — if you’re eating just eat, try to taste everything.
If you are playing with your child at the park, be totally attentive to what they are doing. If you are in a business meeting and someone is speaking, listen to everything they have to say. Cell phones and other technologies are here to stay; it’s not the technology — it’s the user. Your cell phone is not part of your body.
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JR, a veterinarian and University of Wisconsin graduate, had been serving a six-month tour in southern Afghanistan, but she returned home a little early to reunite with her daughter and create a great moment for the 80,000 fans at the game.