To be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing — Raymond Williams
Look beyond those daily news headlines and you will notice that not everyone is an ax-wielding maniac, although there are some that are. Not everyone is out to deceive you, although there are some that will.
But take a closer look and you will see that the vast majority of people on this planet all want the same things that you and I do, meaningful work, someone who believes in them, and hope.
But there’s a problem, can you see it?
When stress floods the mind we all have a tendency to make dumb mistakes. Those who make the worst, are usually the ones with the least amount of options. It’s always easier to be an upstanding citizen with $100 in your pocket than it is with an empty purse and kids to feed.
Nobody wakes up and asks, “How can I make my life hopeless today?” No, that circumstance is usually imposed on us by the men in suits — but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Look, I’ve had my fair share of troubles in this life and I’m sure you have had yours too. That ugly wheel of misfortune can be such an unpredictable part of life. I get it, bad things happen to good people all of the time and none of us are immune.
INCOMING SHIT STORM
We all have “character building” days — you know the ones I’m talking about, those days when you lose your job and your car keys in the same afternoon. Unfortunately, bad days aren’t limited to losing replaceable things, although that sucks too.
Maybe you already know what it’s like to lose someone close to you, experience a serious illness, or be a victim of crime. For just a moment, I’d like to ask that you pause here, and let your mind drift back to one of your more challenging days.
I can only imagine where your mind is right now, and how that unfortunate event might have impacted your life. If you had the opportunity to go back and stand next to yourself, what words would you whisper in your ear?
When a storm of shit rain’s down on us, we don’t always need to know the reason why; we just need to know it’s going to be okay.
If I could go back, I’d tell myself, be still and know that in the end, it’s going to be okay, just don’t lose hope.
It’s as if our earthly soul needs something tangible to hold onto, perhaps just a small flicker of hope to reignite our human spirit. When we are deprived of hope the world becomes a daunting place.
In recent times, you may have noticed how “hope” was neatly packaged and sold to us as a political slogan. The word was hyped up and bandied around with broad smiles along with a promise we all wanted to believe in. You may have also noticed that political hope rarely reaches the bottomless pit of human despair. Stay with me here, because even though those damned spin doctors hijacked the word hope, it’s vitally important they aren’t allowed to keep it.
While our past certainly shapes us, it doesn’t have to define who we are.
If we put our humanitarian goggles on for just a second, we can see how good people can easily become a product of their environment. I know right, why should we care?
Let’s take a step back and look at this from a fresh angle. You can take it to the bank that right now there is someone out there who is experiencing a soul-crushing day, the depths of which you and I can only imagine. How would you like to become an intrinsic part of their story and in the process you get to reap the health rewards?
The trick to doing this is to expect nothing in return. Once you get to that level, something freaky happens. Giving freely opens the path to receiving!
How do I know this?
Eight years ago I was too ill to work. I found myself slumped in a wheelchair with no way out. It wasn’t long before I began to lose hope. Then, something remarkable happened that to this day still blows me away. Without being asked, people in my local community pitched in and started to leave prepaid gas cards and grocery cards in my mailbox. No really, it’s true!
This act of generosity came with no strings attached at a time when I felt had no value. I later learned that some of those people who gave had never even met me and yet they still chose to help.
Although the money quickly came and went, those envelopes represented more to me than just food and gasoline. In my darkest hour, it was as if someone gently whispered in my ear, it’s going to be okay — just don’t give up.
Six years later I am well but those random acts of kindness remain firmly rooted inside me. That selfless, bright light of humanity continues to chase away the darkness of greed. So if you want to take your health to a whole different level, learn to give freely and be grateful for the experience.
Right now there is someone close to you struggling to keep their heads above water (as I once was). If the secret to living is giving, then your mission from today on is a simple one: Boost your own health by helping that person today.
To see someone who’s genuinely in need and then be prepared to step in is a beautiful thing. But this is far more than just a gesture of goodwill, it’s a symbol of hope.
Let’s go back to that bad day you were having, maybe you did lose your car keys and your job in the same afternoon. On that lousy bus ride home how would you feel if suddenly you found an envelope on your seat? Inside that envelope, there was no note, just a few dollars, perhaps only enough to buy yourself dinner at the end of a long miserable day. I know, right? WTF? (Who’s-This-From?)
Suddenly in the middle of a storm of shit, this becomes an almost surreal single ray of sunshine. In the absence of any note, you may even ponder the meaning of it all. But how the heck would that envelope find you?
Stop for just a second and look up from your phone. People are hurting all around, they really aren’t that difficult to find. When people are in a stressed state they become oblivious to their surroundings. Placing a few bucks in an envelope and slipping it to them (without drawing attention to yourself) is actually easy to do. But what's in this for you? I’m glad that you asked.
There’s actually a whole mountain of published scientific data that points to how we can lift ourselves by lifting others. No really, it’s true. This is sometimes referred to as “Helper’s-High.” Don’t take my word for it, once you finished reading this you can easily find a mountain of data on sites such as PubMed.
One study showed that helping others led to a measurable increase in longevity. Another showed a measurable decrease in pain! But here’s the biggy. One study showed that people who observe feats of generosity are more likely to do the same. Thus causing a ripple effect throughout an entire community. Wait a second, are you getting this?
When one person performs a good deed, it literally causes a chain reaction of other altruistic acts! Think about it, this world has become a breeding ground for habitual greed, and materialism. And yet these are the very things that steal our inner peace.
Thank you for reading.