Do you ever stop and think about how fortunate you are? I mean, really stop and drink it in? When someone you love is sick or getting divorced or has lost a job, it is easy to feel appreciation for what you have by comparison. Or if it’s you going through one of those things, you know very keenly how much you want it to be over as soon as possible.
Yet, isn’t it strange how quickly we forget? A few weeks ago, I took a video out the window because it was windy in LA. It was windy. It wasn’t raining or snowing or foggy, or hurricaning. Just windy. After living here for several months in relatively constant sunshine and perfect weather, high winds seemed like an anomaly to me. In other words, we get used to our good fortune. We take it for granted.
It’s in our nature, probably. A psychologist might explain the usefulness of our brains’ ability to form assumptions about our surroundings — that way we don’t have to search for the same doorknob every morning when we wake up in the same room. Our brains help us out by putting certain things on autopilot.
Recently, I heard about this Unicef benefit challenge called, Live Below the Line (as in the poverty line), and it made me want to stop operating on autopilot. Actor Tom Hiddleston took the challenge last year, and spoke candidly about how difficult it was to go through his day on a diet that cost less than £1 per day.
Since watching his videos, I can’t stop considering the cost of what I consume in order to thrive each day and meet my personal goals, and how extraordinarily rich that makes me compared to some people alive today. This afternoon, I bought a delicious chocolate chip scone at the farmer’s market that cost double the daily allowance of the challenge. Not to mention the cappuccino I had with it. And that was a SNACK. It wasn’t even one of the three meals I consumed during the day.
Many of us have a hard time picturing another’s plight, and it keeps us from doing anything to help. Live Below the Line gives people the opportunity to put themselves in another’s shoes, and find compassion through empathy.
Perhaps there is something that has whispered to you that it’s time to help. Several weeks ago, the hashtag #nomakeupselfies trended on Instagram and twitter, and raised millions for cancer research in the U.K. As you probably know, the topic of selfies hits home for me. It was incredibly heartening to see something normally done for fun, do some significant good.
My friend, the late Paul Nicholls, founded an organization called Team Continuum, to provide for the immediate needs of cancer patients through marathon sponsorship. Paul was Santa Claus (he literally made wishes come true and brought toys to kids in hospital at Christmas). He taught me how to stop seeing my life as something in need of improvement, and start sharing my gifts with the world. In fact, we all have more potential inside us than we generally appreciate. Just like many of our other blessings, we take our brilliance and significance for granted.
Maybe you have a friend you know is lonely or struggling with a personal issue. Send them a text. Better yet, a joke. Accept an invitation from someone. Make time in your day for people. I know you’re busy. I know you’ve already got more obligations than you think you can handle. Stop. Do it anyway. Connect. We really are in this together. Don’t bemoan the world for not realizing it — go out and be part of the community of Earth.
You never know what a gift your energy can be for someone else. An hour of friendship may be all someone needs to lift their spirits. And, a child in poverty can be supported for a whole day on £1. I imagine you can spare an hour this week. And $1.68, as well. Heck, run a marathon, if you have the chutzpah. Be part of something, and know that your contribution matters to the world. It really does.
Thanks, friends. FYI…
~ The Live Below the Line Challenge takes place this week. Register here.
~ My good friends at Kids at Work in NYC are raising money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through Moms in Training. Register for a class this week to support this cause.