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There’s nothing like the holiday time to be reminded that we’re all more alike than we are different. As the year begins to draw to a close, I’ve been coming by stories that help me maintain my faith in humanity, and I’d like to share one particular one with you today.

A Child’s Curious Nature

We live in such a wealthy country, but poverty exists here at home in our nation. One of the recent stories I came across was that of Mathew Flores. At the time this story originally came to pass, he was a 12-year-old both from Utah.

One day, Mathew approached Ron Lynch, who was a postal worker and he asked him if he had any extra advertisements and newsletters that he could give him. Lynch and Mathew began to talk, and young Mathew explained that he loved to read, but his family wasn’t able to afford the transportation to the local library or books.

However, young Mathew is a curious young man, and he loved to read. And, as we know, when a child reads and discovers, a mind and universe open up. The way Lynch explained it in the Reader’s Digest article, “He didn’t want electronics; he didn’t want to sit in front of the TV playing games all day. The kid just wanted to read.”

Lynch went on Facebook and began asking his friends to give him reading material, and it didn’t take too long for Mathew to begin receiving books from across the U.S., but also around the world, including countries like India and England. Mathew said he was going to read all of the books––and then he would pay it forward by giving the books away to other children who couldn’t afford to get books. Clearly, he’s an extraordinary young man.

Practicing Your Spirit of Giving

I’ve said it in the past; many people are fighting a battle that you may not know about in their lives. None of us knows the exact measure or experience of anyone’s life but those closest to us. When you walk into the office each day, you might have members of your team who are dealing with divorce, financial difficulties, or illness. When you’re riding the bus or train to work someone may be in sorrow having learned of a passing of a person they loved.

Being mindful that behind any person’s smile can exist a whole unknown reality to you can help you increase your ability to maintain your spirit of giving through the entire year, as opposed to just during the holiday season. I think most people agree that the most significant joys of life come from helping and giving to others and not as much from receiving. In fact, studies have demonstrated that there is a correlation between giving and overall health and wellness.

Maintaining the spirit of giving throughout the year requires practice just as anything worth doing well does. If you want to improve your overall well-being, but if you also want to live your life trying to be the change and help humanity get out of the negative loop, then try the following things to increase your spirit of giving.

  • Be a river, not a swamp: Think about it. A river is vibrant with life, and a swamp is wetlands that can produce disease. If you want to cultivate the spirit of giving, then be like a river and not a toxic swamp.
  • How can I help?: There are countless opportunities in a day to help those you know and even a stranger. When these moments arise, get in the habit of asking, how can I help?
  • Create a habit: Giving to others can become a habit if you begin to make it so. It takes 66 days to make a habit of something harder than remembering to eat a daily fruit. Remind yourself with an alert for a regular act of kindness. After 66 days, you will have made a habit of it.
  • Pay it forward: You’ve heard countless stories of people paying it forward, just as the young Mathew is doing on the books he’s reading as he gives them to others. Next time you’re in line grabbing a cup of coffee, pay for the next person behind you. You never know what that cup of coffee, or small kindness, can mean to someone else.

If you’re looking for a more positive world and for people to treat you better, the change begins with you. Consider the spirit of giving to be like working out. Hopefully, you’re doing things to prioritize your health and wellness that include regular exercise and healthy eating. Since giving to others can also contribute to your health, as well as toward making a better world, get in the habit of practicing the spirit of giving beyond just the holiday season.


Author of “Not Your Father’s Charity: Grip & Rip Leadership for Social Impact” (Free Digital Download)

© 2017 Wayne Elsey and Not Your Father’s Charity. All Rights Reserved.