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Giving
I read this interesting article in Time magazine about happiness and random acts of kindness, and it started me thinking. I also got an email from “one of you” who is very involved in her mother-in-law's life and I could tell that she was happy she could do something that had meaning.

Challenging times see people craving care, empathy, sympathy and generosity. Now, with a full-blown recession having set in, expect to hear even more about caring, as that’s what consumers and citizens will demand from governments and organizations: someone to take care of their jobs, their savings, their fellow citizens. This need becomes extra poignant in societies where individualism is the new religion, and thus every person, young and old, rich and poor, has been told by society that he or she matters as an individual.

According to Time, simple things like holding a door open for someone at the bank, giving someone directions if they look lost or making a point to compliment three people on your way to work mean alot. How about complimenting people that you work with or who work for you? Small or big, directed at friends or strangers, random acts of kindness make the person performing the kind act happier when they're grouped together, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, an experimental psychologist at UC Riverside. 

Doing a considerate thing for another person five times in one day made the doer happier than if they had spread out those five acts over one week. Lyubomirsky explains that because we all perform acts of kindness naturally, it seems to please us more when we're more conscious of it. There are social rewards, too, when people respond positively. 

We all remember last month when a US Air jet had an emergency landing in the Hudson River. No one was killed and the pilot became an instant hero. So, where did the story go? Where are all the stories of the text messages to families and stories about what people were really thinking? Where's the reporting of all the kindness that took place during that event? When things are good they seem to just disappear; if everyone was killed we would be at it forever. We should make a bigger deal about what happened, I’m sure that people’s lives were changed because of it but it seems to have all disappeared.

Why? Because good news really doesn’t sell! Period.
Everyday brings us more bad news about the economy and who’s losing their job. The food pantry across the street in the church can barely make it through the week because of the increase in feed requests. So where is the silver lining? It sure doesn’t look like the silver lining is “out there.” The silver lining will have to be what we create.

So what I suggest is, keep your spirits up! Find something to celebrate every day; maybe it’s the fact you have a job, you have some money in the bank, your family, friends, or your health.
Hug all the people in your life that matter. Go to your Facebook page and tell everyone there you love them. I don’t know why but somehow it’s comforting to see all those people who want to be my friend. It reminds me of school when you were looking for friends, but it’s cute, I like it.

Make something happen. Life is all about coincidences, the more places you show up the more likely you will make a coincidence. You see, something has to happen if you are to have a coincidence. A coincidence is an exchange. People who say “nothing happened today” don’t get the coincidence thing. Look around, what can you create today that might make it better?
Give something away! Yes, I said give it away — don’t buy anything more! I can’t fit another thing in my closet, how about you? Give something to someone who needs it, anything, it will make you feel better. Speaking of the food pantry, I have been going on a weekly basis and delivering the food to people who are too embarrassed to ask for it. I've developed quite an interesting way of giving the food away. Now I just say "you wouldn’t believe how many extra cans of apple juice I bought by mistake—as well as tuna fish." And that seems to make it easier for people to accept.

Do something for someone, anything. Take their laundry to the Laundromat, offer to go shopping for them or baby sit. I was at my friend’s restaurant the other day and the waitress didn’t show, so I helped take a few orders and clean a few tables.
My personal favorite way to help out is walking my friend’s dog, Jules. He is a love and I am about 9th on the list if his owner loses her mind and has to give him up. But I love when he visits and goes to sleep in my bed while I’m working.

Giving is the new getting. In fact, there's a lot of talk about this new Generation G phenomenon. Have you heard of it? I'll write about it next.

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