One of the benefits to getting your finances under control is the opportunity to give generously. However, your giving is a resource that needs to be managed, too. You can’t just give to every organization with their hand out without checking them out first. Tony Morgan recently published a list of ten things that people will want to know before they will give to your church, but I think you can turn them around to make great guidelines for the giver to use before donating to any charitable organization. How will your giving make a difference? How will the resources you give be used? What is the vision of the organization? How can you get further involved? How transparent is the organization? Don’t give blindly.
Pessimism has always tempted me. Out loud, I’d use the word “realist” but, deep down, I had made Murphy my patron saint. It’s taken a lot of work to change my mindset, and to recognize, by and large, our world and my life just keep getting better, not worse. The biggest part of that has been to shut down that fear-filled, negative voice before it can convince me otherwise. Give yourself a chance to see what’s good around you. There aren’t boogeymen around every corner.
How’s this for an education experiment? The One Laptop Per Child project wanted figure out ways to encourage the children of countries with little or no education infrastructure to start teaching themselves. So, they delivered some boxes of tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, taped shut, with no instructions whatsoever. Within five months, the children had begun to learn English and even circumvented some of the security settings on the tablets. How could we implement something like that here in America? Education has to get beyond memorizing facts and procedures, and move on to inspiring children to constantly be learning.
Even on our worst days, we’ll probably meet and briefly interact with somebody new. In most cases, they’ll be there for just a few moments, a few words and maybe a smile will be exchanged, and then they’ll be gone and forgotten. That’s normal, but it’s also a shame. Right now, sitting in this restaurant with my headphones on, I can see five people who I don’t know. Two of them I’ve spoken to. One took my order, the other handed me my food. I only know one of their names, because I read the tag on their chest (Vivian). But each one of them has a story to tell about their life, and I’ll probably never hear it, unless I ask. Why don’t I ask? Do you? What’s your story?
There is a concept in economics called Creative Destruction. Broadly speaking, when a something is destroyed, its resources are free to create something new or make something better. Maybe even several things. For example, when Borders went bankrupt a couple years back, their books, furniture, fixtures and equipment were all sold to other people who put them to use. Their employees all temporarily lost their income, but they had the opportunity to seek other, maybe better, employment. It goes deeper than just business, too. Seth Godin says that a revolution destroys the perfect to enable the impossible. Cory Doctorow says that every act of making begins as an act of unmaking. Think about the areas in the world around you that are showing their wear. The institutions and traditions that aren’t quite hacking it anymore. Think about your personal life. The failures and pain that haunt you and you pray would just go away. What could arise from the ashes of these things if we just. let. them. die?
You are directly in charge of how content you are. If you’re unhappy with your life, if you’ve been living in the same misery for years, then it’s time to start asking yourself some new questions. And be honest with the answers. Pay close attention to question 3, “When people undermine your dreams, predict your doom, or criticize you, remember, they’re telling you their story, not yours.” Don’t let fear of criticism and rejection stop you.
One of the things I’ve been struggling a lot with lately is rest. Things have changed drastically at my day job in the last couple of months and I’ve been fighting through the adjustment while trying to treat the rest of my life with the proper balance. That hasn’t worked out perfectly, I’m afraid. My schedule here has suffered. My sleep has, as well. I even got sick over Memorial Day weekend, which was awesome. That’s happened before, though, and because I’m a bit of an idiot, it will probably happen again. We’re explicitly told to take time to relax and rejuvenate our lives. It’s the point of the Commandment regarding the Sabbath. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work on Sundays, it means we should schedule regular times to rest.
Happy New Year! Alright, I know it’s not January, let alone the first day of the year, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t make a fresh start beginning today. Last year, I pointed out that each one of us should celebrate our own New Years Day on our birthday, turning a reminder of age into a celebration of growth. Maybe that doesn’t appeal to you, but the point is, no matter what time of year we’re in, you can start doing something with it. Just because it’s April and you haven’t kept any of your resolutions, or reached any of your goals, or done anything amazing yet, that doesn’t mean that all of 2013 is worthless. Don’t waste another day. Start over right now.
The grass always looks greener on the other side, doesn’t it? For example, if you want to be free to use grass, even medicinally, then you might want to move to Alaska. Maybe California, but not necessarily if you’re looking for an open labor market to move into. Each state, in it’s own way, opens a gate, or tears down a wall, or finds some way to get out of the way of its occupants and lets them live without interfering. Arizona trusts each resident with the freest gun laws in the country. Oklahoma is a great state to homeschool your children. South Dakota has the lowest tax burden. What do you love about the state you live in? What would you change?