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what are you for

My wife recently shared a post on Facebook to celebrate something (that she felt) was a positive thing in our community.  It was a picture of a few leaders in the local Rotary Club making a substantial donation to multiple local non-profit organizations.  She is a member of the Rotary club, so I am sure there was pride mixed in with her excitement about good being done in the community.

She saw this as a completely positive (apolitical) post, so she was a bit surprised when there was pushback.  Assuming there was some misunderstanding, she tried to alleviate that with a response about the good programs being affected and where the money went.  It did not help…so she let it go.

But I think it raises a challenge in our current outrage culture.  It made me want to take a moment and “say this out loud.”

If someone posts a picture of a local organization (that represents more than 75 local leaders) donating thousands of dollars to multiple local non-profit organizations with the intent of helping grow and develop the community, and your initial response is to crap on that post, maybe you are part of the problem.

It raises a point that I first heard in this amazing graduation speech by Tim Minchin.  It’s worth watching the whole speech as Minchin gives 9 lessons on having a happier life.  But I want to focus on just one today.

What are you FOR?

Many of us today define ourselves by what we are against.  We are outraged by the latest politician, corporate greed, sexism, racism, ageism, or whatever the latest scandal catches the headlines.  We wring our hands and shake our fists and shout (usually via keyboard) about the latest injustice that is happening.  We are anti-one thing and pissed off by another thing until it seems we are against everything.  It creates an angry and unproductive attitude that only creates more anger and frustration.

So, as Minchin suggests, what if we started to define ourselves by what we are FOR?  What if we spent our energy thinking of things we want to be involved in or wanted to support or cheer on?  What if we spent that time advocating ideas that we were passionate about?  I think you would find that it would be more productive, but it would also make you happier.

On the other hand, it’s not just about what you are FOR.  And that leads me to the next question.

What will you DO?

It’s great that you have a cause that you are excited about.  At the very least, it’s a more productive mindset to have.  But that’s just the first step.  Now it’s a question of what are you willing to do?  Are you willing to put your money where your mouth is?  Are you willing to start that business, donate to that cause or contribute your time or talent to that non-profit?  It’s not about thinking happy thoughts.  It’s about being wiling to roll up your sleeves and do the work.  That’s where the magic happens.

So before you make that next snarky comment, post that next tweet or send your next harshly worded email, take a moment to decide what you are FOR.  Not only can you actually make a difference that matters, you will also (likely) be more happy and fulfilled in the process.

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