5 Things to do Before You Start a Fundraiser

There are countless reasons for needing to start a fundraiser—emergency, medical cost, school team, etc. Regardless of the reason for needing to start a fundraiser, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind prior to asking others around you to support you through financial donations.

We know that you have options when looking for a fundraising platform, but at A Good Cause, we are committed to helping your fundraiser be a success, from initially setting up your fundraising campaign to seeing the largest percentage of funds, compared to other fundraising platforms, deposited into your bank account.

Here are five things that you’ll need when starting your fundraiser with A Good Cause:

Information About Your Cause

Step one of creating a successful fundraising campaign with A Good Cause is to provide information about your cause. People aren’t going to donate money to a campaign that simply says “Please Donate”. You’re going to need to give potential donors details and facts, explain to them the situation and why you (or the beneficiary) needs their financial help.

What is the reason for your cause? Why are you trying to raise funds? This is the information that potential donors and supporters are going to want to know; they need to know this information. Before you start a campaign, think about the “why” of your campaign. What is the motivating factor that is driving you to seek financial support from outside donors?

This is the area, where you should include as much information and specifics as you can. State what the fundraiser is raising money for (i.e., national soccer championship, or emergency medical bills), how the funds will be used (including any excess funds that are raised). This is your chance to appeal to potential donors’ emotions and generosity by essentially “selling” your campaign. The more information and specifics that you can provide, the better.  

A good example of including information is by telling the story behind the fundraiser one such story is of a remarkable young woman from a small community in my home state. This young woman was the victim of a horrendous act of violence, which has left her with physical and mental disabilities, that she will have for the rest of her life.

As a result of her injuries, she has had dozens of surgeries performed to improve her quality of life and provide her with the ability to live as normal a life as possible. Due to the nature of her injuries and how they were sustained, those in the community and around the state know and are invested in her story. People want to know how she is doing, how her recovery is going and how life is for her now that some time has passed. Different news outlets have done stories on her, documenting her recovery.

In a recent news interview, it was brought to light that the family had been paying for all of her medical expenses themselves; and now she is turning to fundraising to help her get devices that will drastically improve her quality of life and allow for her to live a more independent life. Because her story is so well known around her community, providing additional details, such as, the cost of the devices and how they will improve her life were critical to having a successful fundraiser.

Images

The second step in creating a fundraiser with A Good Cause is to include an image. We’ve all heard the saying before that “a picture is worth 1,000 words”, and it is so true! A Good Cause allows for you to include up to two images with your campaign, so that you can not only show who the campaign is for, but also why. When donors are able to link an image with a cause, it then becomes real. It is no longer just words on a website, it is a real, live person or group who is asking for help.

Images are such a powerful marketing tool, there is a reason why there are images included in news stories—the people and stories become real when images are included. The same can be said of your campaign on A Good Cause, including images that allow for potential donors to see who will directly benefit from their monetary donation. Some people have an easier time donating money, when they can see who will directly benefit from their donation, rather than an anonymous benefactor.

A good example of including an image with your cause, would be a fundraiser that brought my entire community together. It was my senior year of high school, and one of my classmates had been battling a brain tumor and things were not looking good. As with most major illnesses, medical bills mount quickly and can feel insurmountable. Thankfully, I lived in a community that was eager to rally around those around us and help those in need. For this particular individual, a fundraiser was organized where his picture and story about his battle with a brain tumor was shared all around the community. Those who organized the fundraiser provided information about the individual, his diagnosis and treatments up to that point.

As a result of their efforts, a fundraiser dinner was organized, where members of the community could come out and eat dinner with donations and proceeds going to this young man and his family to help cover medical expenses. At the fundraiser dinner, this young man and his family were there, talking to all those who came out to show support; expressing their love and gratitude to all those who were there to help lighten the load they were carrying. If his image and story had not been shared, the fundraiser and the impact would not have had as far reaching of an impact as it did.

Media

The third step in setting up your A Good Cause fundraiser, is not a required step, but is highly recommended, and that is to include a video of some sort. In addition to adding images to your campaign page, consider adding a video to your campaign. While this is not a requirement to set up a campaign with A Good Cause, it is strongly advised. While a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth more! Videos can help you to tell your story through images, voice and music. Let the recipient speak for themselves about how financial donations will be used to bless and help their lives.

When I think of including media in a fundraiser campaign, I think of videos following a natural disaster that show supplies being organized and shipped to those in need. I also think of videos of necessary supplies being passed out to those who were hit hardest following a natural disaster. Small video clips such as these can have a huge impact, while appealing to people’s emotions, enticing them to donate.

Another example of the power of including a video clip in your fundraising efforts is one that I saw recently. There was a young woman, who I followed on social media. She had been battling an extremely rare form of cancer and was showing her followers the power of living and making life beautiful despite your circumstances. A couple of years ago, she began working with a videographer to document her story, so that when she was gone her story would continue to bless people around the world.

Unfortunately, she passed away from cancer a few months ago, leaving her documentary team with the task of finishing her story and producing it for the world to see. Prior to her passing, she had filmed a little video explaining why it was so important to her that her story be documented and shared with the world. She had a desire to leave a legacy of faith, fight and strength for her daughter, husband and other family members.

By sharing this small video clip, the necessary funds required to finish and produce her documentary were raised in a short amount of time. To me, this was a powerful example of how having a short video, explaining how funds will be used and the purpose behind the fundraiser can work to move mountains and make fundraisers a success. 

Campaign Creator

Fourth, you’ll need to include a mini biography about the campaign creator when creating a campaign on A Good Cause. Campaign creators will need to include an image of themselves along with providing a small biography. This is your opportunity to talk about why this fundraiser is important to you, whether you are the benefactor or are creating the campaign on behalf of someone else.

For campaigns that are created for a team or club, a biography allows for you to tell facts about the club, i.e., accomplishments, upcoming schedule, awards, etc. Allow for potential donors to get to know you and your cause a little bit more.

Most people, won’t just give their hard-earned money to just anybody, when doing a fundraiser, many will want to know who the fundraiser is for, how the money will be used, and any other facts that are relevant to the cause. This is why including a biography when creating your fundraiser with A Good Cause, is recommended as it allows for donors to get to know you and who they will be handing their hard-earned money over to. This is especially important if you are creating a campaign on behalf of someone else, be sure to include how you know or are related to the benefactor.

agoodcause - bank/credit card information

Banking Information

Final step is to provide your banking information. You’re going to want to have a way to collect all the donations that your campaign receives, so you’ll need to provide A Good Cause with your banking information so that the funds can be securely transferred to your account. Without providing this information, you will not be able to access your funds.

You can rest assured that your banking information is safe with A Good Cause who has teamed up with Stripe to offer users a safe, secure way to have funds deposited into their account from their fundraiser.

By following these five steps you are more prone to have a successful fundraising campaign through A Good Cause.  These steps are simple and small but have rewarding effects on the people who see, hear or read about your fundraiser. Be sure to implement all five steps in your next campaign fundraiser with A Good Cause and you’ll be amazed at the results it will bring.

Author: Ashley Christensen

Why Is it So Hard to Ask for Help?

“Sometimes asking for help also means you are helping yourself.”

–Renuka Pitre

It is only natural to want to try and handle things on your own, without having to ask for or rely on others for help and assistance. Although, this is something that most of us strive for, it isn’t always possible to do and handle every situation on our own. Sometimes, we must admit that we can’t do it all, we are only human after all. Therefore, we need to ask for help from those around us, those who are in our tribe.

The old adage, that “it takes a village”, is especially true in times of trial, disaster, hardship and grief. It is also true in times of joy, happiness and celebration. For example, when a couple is getting married, they generally will be the recipients of “bridal showers” where they are given gifts for their new home, and starting their life together. The same goes for expectant moms, who have a “baby shower”, where they receive items that will be needed once the baby arrives. Often times, these showers are for friends, family members and neighbors, i.e., their village. In addition to receiving gifts at a shower, expectant mothers may receive meals that are brought into their home, following the birth of their baby.

In times of trial, disaster, hardship and grief, individuals closest to those directly affected and involved, will rally around them, offering support, meals, transportation, a place to stay, or a shoulder to cry on and anything else that they might need. During times of hardship and grief, it is not uncommon to find that fundraising efforts are started as a way to alleviate the financial burden on top of everything else the family is facing. 

Even though we all know that we need help from others from time to time, it can still be difficult, if not impossible to ask for help. Why is that? Why is it so difficult to ask for help, when we know that everyone is going to need help at some point in their life? Surely, we aren’t the only ones who’ve faced a hard time and needed to ask for help, and we definitely won’t be the last either. Yet, it can still be difficult to give voice to our struggle and let the world know that we can’t do it alone. Here are a few reasons why I believe it can and is difficult to ask for help from others.

Fear

The number one reason, I believe people have a hard time asking for help, regardless of the reasons or circumstances, is fear. Fear of rejection, fear of embarrassment, fear of feeling like a burden to others, fear of talking to other people, or fear of others knowing you can’t do it alone. Ironically enough, some people are even afraid of being successful in asking for and receiving help. Regardless of the reason behind the fear, justified or not, fear is a powerful emotion, that can make it difficult if not impossible to move forward.

Forbes.com published an article in 2016, which listed fourteen different ways in which you can overcome fear. Among the ideas listed, were the following:

·         Understanding Your Fear

·         Educate yourself

·         Visualize Success

·         Get Outside Help

·         Have a Positive Attitude

Now that we know a little bit about some of the reasons for fear, let’s dive a little deeper into them and learn how we can move past, and turn that fear into action. Before we can move past fear, we must first understand the fear and educate ourselves—what exactly are we afraid of? Why are we afraid of it? Knowing and understanding the fear, allows for us to know how to combat it and overcome it, so that we can ask for the help that we need. Remember that education and knowledge is power, and knowing all that you can about your fear is going to help you—not only with your fear of asking for help, but any fear you might have.

Once you have learned all that you can about your fear and have educated yourself, it is now time to visualize yourself succeeding. Depending on what your fundraising goal is, envision yourself achieving it. If your goal is to help a family member pay their medical bills, or your son’s soccer team making it to a national competition, envision achieving that goal and the joy that you will experience. Envisioning your success can be half the battle, once you can see it, you now have a visual goal to work towards.

Depending on the root cause of your fear, you may need to seek help from others, who can help you to work and overcome your fear. If you have a fear of talking to people, practice what you want to say and rehearse it with someone you know and trust. The more you practice and rehearse what you want to say, the easier it will be for you to talk to others whom you aren’t as close to. This is one of those instances where practice makes perfect!

Most importantly, when it comes to overcoming your fear is to have a positive attitude. This can go hand-in-hand with envisioning your success, as the more positive you are about the outcome, the more likely you are to have success. Not only will having a positive attitude change the way that you think about asking others for help, it will also be apparent in your actions, which others can see. When people see how positive you are despite your circumstances and needing extra help, they may be more inclined to help, just by you being positive!

Wanting to do it on Your Own/ Embarrassment/ Pride

It is natural to want to do things and take care of things in your life, on your own. When you fall on hard times as the result of things both within your control and beyond your control, it can be embarrassing and difficult to ask for help to get through these times. Some people even believe that when they ask others for help, it appears as if they are not in control of their life. Some also believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness, or as being irresponsible.

Nobody wants to be perceived by their friends, neighbors, family members or community as being weak or inadequate to accomplish that which they need help with. As a result, many people will not ask for outside help from others, to eliminate the possibility of being perceived as less than what they are. Although these feelings and emotions are real and should not be ignored, they aren’t necessarily true either. Aside from wanting to do things on our own and not rely on others, pride is a strong emotion that can also hold people back from asking for help.

There have been many instances throughout my life where, I wanted to give off the illusion that I was in control of my life and I knew exactly what I was doing. This wasn’t always true, yet, I let my pride and embarrassment of asking for help get in my way of allowing others to help me, and in turn help themselves. Through these experiences, I have learned that when I allow others to help me, I am helping them in return. Some people need and want to feel needed and valuable, and by letting them help when and how they can, provides them with that validity that they need.

For some, their needs are very apparent, making it impossible for them to deny the fact that they need help, yet still refusing to ask for it or accepting it when offered. In these instances, there isn’t much you can do if they are refusing your help, other than offer and let them know that if they ever change their mind, you’re willing to help.

The best way to overcome feelings of wanting to do it alone, pride and embarrassment is to step outside your comfort zone, and ask for help and accept it when offered. No one person can do everything on their own, there will come a time, in everyone’s life where they are going to need help from someone else, whether they want to admit it or not. In fact, many highly successful people, realize that they can’t do everything on their own. Therefore, they utilize those around them who have different strengths than them, which help to make them successful.

If a highly successful person can admit that they need help, you can too!

Not Knowing Where to Turn for Help

Another big reason why people don’t always ask for help when they might need it, is because they don’t know where to turn for help. This can stem from the previous reasons mentioned above, but it can also stem from previous bad experiences of asking for help and being turned away.

When you need medical help, you know that you need to go and see a doctor. If you need help with getting food, there are food pantries and soup kitchens you can go to. If you need help with finding a job, there are ample resources available online. Some communities even have job services offices, where you can go to get help with interviewing, temporary jobs and resume writing assistance.

But, where do you go if you need help regarding a more personal matter, such as, counseling? Marriage therapy? Financial assistance? It can be harder to open up and ask for help in finding resources or asking for donations, when the issue is personal and private. This lack of knowledge, can create a sense of fear, which can prevent people from asking and seeking for help during these vulnerable and troubling times.

Yet for some others, depending on where they live, the resources and help that they need is not available to them. This is especially true, in under-developed and third-world countries. For these people, they have learned how to take care of themselves, or simply go without, because they have no other choice.

I have been privileged to go to Mexico numerous times, and perform various humanitarian projects. On each of these trips, I am always amazed by the families we help and their stories. A lot of the stories are similar in the fact that they fell on hard times, a family member became ill or disabled and they were no longer able to provide for them or their families. But despite their lack of resources and ability to provide for themselves, they were immensely grateful for our help in providing a home for them to live in, a roof over their head, and for some a source of hot water.

How A Good Cause Can Help

A Good Cause removes a lot of the obstacles that come from the above-mentioned reasons as to why people won’t or don’t ask for help. With these obstacles removed it is easier for those in need of help from others to ask and receive, and for those with the resources and ability to help to offer and lend their help.

As mentioned, fear is a huge reason why a lot of people don’t ask for help. With A Good Cause, individuals don’t have to ask for help in-person. Through the wonderful world of social media and the Internet, those in need of help can put a plea out on the internet with a link back directly to their A Good Cause campaign, where people can donate and help without ever having to speak in-person. Another great feature of doing fundraising and asking for financial help through A Good Cause, is that it also eliminates any awkwardness that might arise from asking someone who is unable to donate and having to say “no” when asked; eliminating the fear of rejection.

When using A Good Cause for fundraising needs, you are still in control of your situation. You have control over the goal amount you want to raise, and you have control over how and where you share your campaign. When creating your campaign, you can choose how much or how little information you want to share, you can decide what images you want to share with your campaign and you can choose if you want to offer the option of recurring donations or not. It is your campaign; you are in control!

In the event of a disaster, tragedy or emergency, knowing where to turn to find financial help to cover the unexpected, financial burden that has been thrust upon you, A Good Cause can help. With the highest payout in the industry, you are truly going to be blessed from the generous donations that you receive through your Good Cause campaign. A Good Cause takes the guesswork out of where to go for help when facing financial obstacles or fundraising needs.

Not only does A Good Cause remove and address the above-mentioned reasons why many people have a hard time asking for help, they also help you to be successful with your fundraising needs. Through social media tutorials teaching you how to promote and share your campaign, to inspirational stories and articles, you will be uplifted and edified when you receive help through A Good Cause.

Next time you are in need of help, financial or otherwise, don’t be afraid to ask for help from those around you and those around the world. Together we can all make this world a better place, lighten the burden of others and show that there are still good things and good people in the world. Break the mold, ask for help when needed and see how blessed your life and the lives of those who help you become. 

 Author:  Ashley Christensen

Sources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshsteimle/2016/01/04/14-ways-to-conquer-fear/#2b1e1a4d1c48

The Evolution of Fundraising

Fundraising takes on many different names, faces and purposes. Some of the most common include, school fundraising, team, club and sport fundraising, medical expense fundraising, emergency/accident fundraising and funeral fundraising. Regardless of what you call fundraising, there is a common goal behind a fundraiser. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary the word fundraise is defined as “to engage in the organized activity of raising funds to support a cause, campaign, etc.”. But that is not all that fundraising is, according to Nonprofit Quarterly, quoting Business Dictionary, fundraising is “the process of soliciting financial support and is an essential way for most nonprofits to bring in revenue for their organization’s mission.”.

While the main objective behind a successful fundraising campaign is to raise funds for an end goal, many nonprofits and charitable organizations also rely on fundraisers as a means to build and foster new relationships, develop foundation support and as a way to attract and introduce new donors to their organization. Many school organizations and clubs use various methods of fundraising as a means to provide opportunities to their students.

Another popular type of fundraiser is that of emergency and medical needs. Often times, I have discovered fundraisers that fall under this category are the result of someone being involved in an accident, unexpected medical expenses as the result of an illness or injury; and unfortunately, I have also seen a lot of fundraisers, raising funds to help cover the cost associated with a funeral. These are just a few of the different types of fundraisers that I have personally seen, I know that there are countless other philosophies, organizations and reasons why fundraisers are created.

With fundraising so prevalent and easy nowadays, it can be hard to imagine a time when fundraising wasn’t the norm, or even a time when fundraising didn’t exist. This is because fundraising has been around for years in one form or another, with a rich history. In fact, the root of fundraising in America goes all the way back to the nation’s founding. During this time, the wealthy came to the aid of the new nation, providing financial support to boost their economy; ultimately resulting in the new nation gaining strength and confidence.

History of Fundraising

Although, there are accounts and reports of fundraising taking place during the colonization and founding of the United States; organized fundraising did not officially come about till years later. Organized fundraising that we know and are familiar with today, stems from the early 1900s. Charles Sumner Ward and Frank L. Pierce are credited as the ones who developed fundraising on a national and professional level; also referred to as the “Fathers of Fundraising”.

Ward and Pierce were responsible for raising funds for the YMCA building in New York City after the initial fundraising efforts failed to prove successful. The initial goal was to raise a whopping $350,000 to construct the new YMCA building. As they were nearing the deadline, the YMCA was nowhere near reaching their lofty goal. Despite having received a generous $50,000 donation from the Rockefeller’s, the campaign was still holding an $80,000 deficit. It was at this seemingly hopeless point, that Ward and Pierce were called upon to bring new life to the, struggling, lifeless project that appeared as though it was destined to fail.

agoodcause - history-of-fundraising

With limited time, Ward and Pierce had to be creative and develop new ways that had never been used before, in order to raise the necessary funds. Part of their strategy included hiring a publicist, and receiving the first paid advertisements from corporate sponsors. Ward and Pierce were able to secure underwritten advertising from WoodWard and Lothrop department store, which is credited as an early record of cause-based marketing in modern fundraising. As a result of their efforts, their fundraising campaign was highly successful. Some reports claim that they were able to raise enough funds that exceeded their initial goal; therefore, leading to their fundraising trend to take off and be adopted for other fundraising needs across the country.

Around the same time that Ward and Pierce were developing their fundraising agenda, Bishop William Lawrence, from Harvard University set out to increase professors’ salaries. He generated a “genteel” letter that was intended to entice university alumni to make financial donations to increase professors’ salaries. Upon seeing his success in receiving donations from alumni for things other than constructing new buildings, other universities followed suit raising money for various reasons. This particular fundraising method still continues today, with universities appealing to their alumni to make financial contributions that will benefit current and future students.

Along with the success of professional fundraising, came a few repercussions that could have been hard to have predicted. Among them, were the small, mom-and-pop charities that relied solely on donations throughout the early 1900s, soon found it difficult for themselves to obtain recognition and donations. Along with the struggle to be recognized, fundraising took off into a national movement that allowed for donors to have an increased option of how and where to donate their hard-earned money.

The need for organized fundraising really gained attention between World War I and II, particularly following World War II. It is recorded that the American people were feeling exceptionally charitable, but they were skeptical and hesitant about donating money to just any fundraiser, as national standards for fundraising had yet to be established or in place.

It wasn’t until the 1960s that the National Society of Fundraisers (NSFR) was formed, and served as a source of research aid and instruction for professional fundraisers and for other organizations who elected to use their services. In the following years, different approaches to fundraising emerged; including the use of telethons, door-to-door solicitation, and others.

Nowadays, the ways that fundraisers are conducted has evolved even more. Rarely do you see individuals, groups or organizations going door-to-door soliciting funds, but more are selling goods and services in exchange for monetary donations. Food fundraisers have gained in popularity, whether it be in the form of tangible items to consume at home, or dining out to support an individual, group or organization.

In addition to fundraising evolving since its origins, fundraising has made it easier for donors to donate and individuals, groups and organizations to seek necessary donations. This is due in part to the ability to make donations and create fundraisers online through secure fundraising platforms, such as A Good Cause. Online fundraising has really taken off in recent years, as it is easy, fast and requires no inventory.

Fundraising as We Know it Today

Fundraising methods have come a long way since their origins with Ward and Pierce. Fundraising has become more and more common in our everyday lives, as there are countless fundraisers happening all around us. Although there are new methods and ways to effectively fundraiser, there are still some old-fashioned methods that are utilized. While not as common as they once were, some non-profits will write letters seeking donations from individuals, organizations and businesses in their communities.

Schools continue to utilize fundraisers that promote selling food items, such as cookie dough, pizza punch cards and other such items to raise necessary funds. This method has a proven track record for success, which is why many schools continue with this type of fundraising, although there are new and even better ways that are more effective and less work for everyone involved.

Online fundraising through A Good Cause, allows for individuals, schools, groups and organizations to raise funds quickly, safely and easily through an online platform. Online fundraising removes the obstacle of geographical restraints as donors can donate from all across the globe. From humble beginnings of writing letters and hiring a publicist to ask for donations, to simply donating online in a matter of seconds, fundraising has come a long way; who knows how fundraising will continue to change and evolve in the coming years.

Sources:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fundraise
https://nonprofitquarterly.org/what-is-fundraising-definition/
https://rallybound.com/charles-sumner-ward-frank-l-pierce-and-the-ymca/
https://topnonprofits.com/roots-fundraising-got/
https://www.getmovinfundraising.com/Blog/Blog33/The-Brief-History-of-Fundraising

The Science of Generosity and Giving

How Living the Law of Abundance Can Bless Your Life

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.” -Charles Dickens

It has been said that it is better to give than to receive. I fully believe this to be true because the feeling we get from giving is so wonderful that there aren’t enough words to describe just how great we feel. When we give, we feel joy, love, and all of those warm “fuzzy” feelings and every cliche associated with them. 

 I think it’s important to graciously receive as well. If people don’t receive the gifts we give, then giving is useless. There is a two-way street there, for sure. But giving requires more of a sacrifice than getting and therefore the reward for giving is greater. When we sacrifice our time, our money, and our talents to help someone in need the sacrifice results in a greater reward. 

This is something I’ve found to be true in my own life. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and as part of our membership I have elected to donate 10% of my income to the Church. At times the sacrifice to donate that 10% is so great that it could mean the difference between having a roof over my family’s head or not and sometimes the sacrifice is as natural as breathing and doesn’t take anything from me. At times I make the sacrifice with little faith, hoping that all will work out. Other times I make it fully believing and understanding that my sacrifice will be rewarded. However, every time I have followed through on that sacrifice I have seen a blessing in my own life. Sometimes it’s only a small blessing, like just being able to live in our apartment for another month or having enough food to eat in spite of how close it comes to not having enough. But either way, when I make the sacrifice I find that my sacrifice is rewarded with a blessing.  

During a trying time for my family, we made the decision to pay that 10%, knowing full well that there just might not be enough to survive until the next paycheck. However, after that sacrifice we received a very great, very needed blessing. That sacrifice became the turning point in our situation that led to receiving that great blessing and many more that followed. This is usually how these things work. We receive great and simple blessings for our willingness to sacrifice. It’s not just a religious principle, it’s a scientific one as well. The blessings we receive for making those sacrifices are notable and profound. 

In a talk given at Brigham Young University, Arthur C. Brooks, an American social scientist, musician, columnist for the New York Times, and president of the American Enterprise Institute illustrates why living the law of abundance is actually beneficial to you, your life, and even your finances. In the talk, titled “Why Giving Matters” he shares a study that he headed which observed what happens when people give. In this study, they were able to find that giving actually created an abundance. He states, “Specifically, here’s what I found. If you have two families that are exactly identical—in other words, same religion, same race, same number of kids, same town, same level of education, and everything’s the same—except that one family gives a hundred dollars more to charity than the second family, then the giving family will earn on average $375 more in income than the nongiving family—and that’s statistically attributable to the gift.” Giving to others and living the law of abundance can bless your life in many ways even helping you financially. 

aGoodCause - Guy giving gift to old woman living happy, healthy, and live a more abundant life

However, money isn’t the only thing that we can become rich in. People have also been shown to be happier, healthier, and live a more abundant life all around. Brooks expresses that giving and generosity make people happier. He states: “It turns out that the data on happiness and charitable giving are beyond dispute. People who give to charity are 43 percent more likely than people who don’t give to say they’re very happy people. People who give blood are twice as likely to say they’re very happy people as people who don’t give blood. People who volunteer are happier. The list goes on. You simply can’t find any kind of service that won’t make you happier.” So not only can giving make you rich in money, but it can also make you rich in the things that matter most. Happiness can’t be bought but spending money on others can make you happier. Everyone can use a little more happiness in their lives. 

To add to Brooks’ research, there is also more evidence of how giving can bless our lives. In a book titled The Paradox of Generosity, Christian Smith and Hilary Davidson state as well that by giving we receive and that this is not just a religious principle. They state, “Generosity is paradoxical. Those who give, receive back in turn. By spending ourselves for others’ well-being, we enhance our own standing. In letting go of some of what we own, we better secure our own lives. By giving ourselves away, we ourselves move toward flourishing. This is not only a philosophical or religious teaching; it is a sociological fact.” It isn’t just a religious idea, giving actually makes you live more abundantly. If you give, you will receive. 

This also works in the reverse, if we hold onto things we will lose them. Davidson and Smith speak on this as well, “The generosity paradox can also be stated in the negative. By grasping onto what we currently have, we lose out on better goods that we might have gained. In holding onto what we possess, we diminish its long-term value to us. By always protecting ourselves against future uncertainties and misfortunes, we are affected in ways that make us more anxious about uncertainties and vulnerable to future misfortunes. In short, by failing to care for others, we do not properly take care of ourselves.” In other words, our success in a way is dependent on the success of others and if they fail, we fail. If we can’t take care of others, then we aren’t taking care of ourselves. 

This idea, the paradox of generosity isn’t new and shouldn’t be surprising to anyone. It has been a religious principle for centuries and also has been taught by many people. Just as Smith and Davidson point out. They state, “The paradox of generosity should not be surprising. Very many wise observers of human life across all of recorded history have taught different versions of the generosity paradox.” From a Hebrew proverb to Buddha, to a Hindu proverb, and even to Jesus of Nazareth, each in their own words has taught the principle of the generosity paradox. 

But even with the wise words of religious leaders, there is also the scientific evidence of it. Smith and Davidson conducted a study of Americans’ belief and practices of generosity. In this “nationally representative survey of Americans’ practices and beliefs about generosity,” over hundreds of interviews, they discovered this in summary, “What we have learned is the following. First, the more generous Americans are, the more happiness, health, and purpose in life they enjoy. This association between generous practices and personal well-being is strong and highly consistent across a variety of types of generous practices and measures of well-being. Second, we have excellent reason to believe that generous practices actually create enhanced personal well-being. The association between generosity and well-being is not accidental, spurious, or simply an artifact of reverse causal influence. Certain well-known, explicable causal mechanisms explain to us the specific ways that generous practices shape positive well-being outcomes. Third, the way Americans talk about generosity confirms and illustrates the first two points. The paradox of generosity is evident in the lives of Americans.” So the more generous we are, the more we share, the more we give, the more we will see in return. Our lives will be better, happier, and we will feel more fulfilled. 

The results of their findings, as well as other scientific findings, are clear and precise–the more we give the more we will be blessed. Brooks found the same finding in his study as well as Davidson and Smith. The scientific evidence is clear; when we give, we receive. As Davidson and Smith state in their book most succinctly, “Giving money, volunteering, being relationally generous, being a generous neighbor and friend, and personally valuing the importance of being a generous person are all significantly, positively correlated with greater personal happiness, physical health, a stronger sense of purpose in life, avoidance of symptoms of depression, and a greater interest in personal growth. Therefore, giving is a blessing for you and for me. 

So if you ever wonder whether it’s worth the effort to give, I would implore you to remember what Davidson and Smith say on the matter, “People may rightly wonder whether being a generous person and acting generously is a costly course of life. They might ask whether spending money, time, attention, energy, and emotions on and for the good of others proves to be a net loss in the overall scheme of things. The answer here is clear and compelling. Greater generosity is clearly, positively associated with many of the characteristics that most people consider essential to a good life: happiness, health, purpose, and growth. That is a significant finding with major implications for living.” “Major implications,” indeed. Living the law of abundance is a formula for a happy life. 

Homework: Study the blessings of living the law of abundance. Whether that’s actually looking at the science of giving or whether that’s just taking a study of your own life and how your life changes in a positive way after implementing the law of abundance. Either way, when you are looking at the evidence for how living the law of abundance can bless your life, the evidence is there. Living the law of abundance is about giving to others as well as giving to yourself. If we only live the law of abundance we will see the blessings abundantly in our lives. 

Author:  Ashley Christensen

BYU Talk – https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/arthur-c-brooks_giving-matters-2/ The Paradox of Generosity: https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=QGvrAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=giving+to+receive&ots=3lY0XAoLE_&sig=1GoeYYGzEOxUBfCiew1trUVWhC0#v=onepage&q=46&f=false

The Law of Abundance: Living a More Joyful and Charitable Life

Mark Twain once said, “If you want love and abundance in your life, give it away.” What this simple and beautiful quote indicates to me is that love, abundance and full joy isn’t a solo sport–to have love and abundance in our lives we must share it with others. This is the law of abundance. It seems counter intuitive but it’s not, which is why the law of abundance is such an interesting topic to discuss and learn about. The law of abundance isn’t always called the law of abundance. It is referred to sometimes as the “law of giving” or just simply “abundance.” Occasionally it can be explained as the “blessing of giving” and in religious groups it’s known as “you reap what you sow” whether for good or bad. In some circles that’s called Karma. But the law of abundance is about so much more than bad people getting their comeuppance or getting revenge.

The law of abundance is like the overall term for a cycle of giving. You give, you get. In layman’s terms that’s what it’s all about. However, it’s not as simple as that and it’s not as though if you give to someone, they will give to you. The law of abundance is about what God gives to you, or the universe, or fate or whatever you believe in. That being or entity gives to you something for being willing to give something. The law of abundance is a beautiful law that can bless our lives if only we lived it.

In this four week course I will go over several topics that concern the law of abundance. In week one I will share four basic principles of the law of abundance. The second week I will talk about how the law of abundance is needed and why. In the third week I will discuss abundance versus scarcity mindset and how we can overcome the scarcity mindset and live in abundance. Finally, in the fourth week I will discuss the blessings and scientific results of the law of abundance. Each week I will also have some “homework” or tips and ideas on how to implement the law of abundance in your own life. 

Four Basic Principles of Living the Law of Abundance 

I want to share with you four basic principles of living the law of abundance. Each of these principles are fundamental and essential principles to living the law of abundance and living an abundant life. 

Understanding: The first of the four principles is understanding. This is important because understanding comes before serving. You have to understand that there is a need before you can fill that need. Therefore, having an understanding of a need is the best place to start. One thing that is important for us to understand is that there is a need. Whether you are rich or poor, black or white, old or young there is always a need. Whether that’s love, friendship, money, a listening ear, or just a smile during a hard day. Everyone needs something. 

But understanding isn’t just about being able to recite facts about that person or being able to have a good conversation. Understanding is about empathy. In Stephen R. Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People he shares a section called “Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood” which is a principle of empathetic communication. He issues the idea that the best way to understand someone is to use empathetic listening. Most of us listen to respond instead of listening to understand. He uses the example of going to an optometrist and instead of diagnosing the problem the doctor gives you his glasses and explains that he has been using them for years and they have worked for him so they should work for you. That’s prescribing before you understand. 

Which is why understanding is an important first step in living the law of abundance. How can we help (or prescribe) or even give if we don’t understand the need? Covey also goes on to say that empathetic listening is about listening to the things that are sometimes unspoken. He states that, “Empathetic listening involves much more than registering, reflecting, or even understanding the words that are said. Communications experts estimate, in fact, that only 10 percent of our communication is represented by the words we say. Another 30 percent is represented by our sounds, and 60 percent by our body language. In empathetic listening, you listen with your ears, but you also, and more importantly, listen with your eyes and with your heart. You listen for feeling, for meaning. You listen for behavior. You use your right brain as well as your left. You sense, you intuit, you feel.” So you don’t just listen with your ears, empathetic listening is about looking at and trying to understand the whole picture. This is a good explanation as to why there are so many rifts and upsets on social media, because communication is limited not only by what we don’t hear, it’s also limited because we can’t see or watch for those little facets of listening that help us to truly understand each other. 

aGoodCause - Digital Media Information Medium News Concept

Therefore, as a good first step to living the law of abundance, start with learning how to listen to those around us and listening first to understand the need. Then we can help and give in a way that will truly benefit those who need it and help us to more fully live the law of abundance. 

Love: The second basic principle of living the law of abundance is love. This seems pretty vague and sort of obvious at the same time. However, love is something that is an essential part of taking care of each other and frankly, life, and therefore should be included in this list. I know psychologists, psychiatrists, theorists, analysts, anthropologists, and pretty much every poet in the history of the universe has tried to define love since the beginning of time. I won’t pretend to know that I hold the secret. There are obviously different kinds of love and different levels of love within those kinds. But when it comes to living the law of abundance and love, I would say this kind of love is more along the lines of charity. But charity isn’t just about giving or donations. It’s about love. The two go hand in hand. I could donate a whole houseful of stuff to Goodwill but that doesn’t mean I feel love for the people who purchase my stuff. Usually those kinds of acts are about me cleaning out my junk that I’ve collected. Does that mean it’s a worthless act? No, it’s still giving and giving still has worth even if you don’t know the person you’re giving to. But giving old stuff I don’t use anymore is not necessarily living the law of abundance. There’s so much more to it than that. 

For this discussion on love, I want to steer clear of the cliche, mimicked, repetitive and overused theories involving love and how to love those you serve. Therefore, I’d like to talk about a kind of service that maybe isn’t what you’d think of when you think of service or charity–customer service. While I don’t want to focus so much on the “customer” aspect of customer service, I would like to focus on the tools of good customer service and how we can use those same tools in loving those we serve. Focusing on customer service is a tricky area, I know, because there is such a stigma on business and companies and usually when we think of giving and charity, the businessman isn’t the first line drawn. As well, there are many businesses out there that are just worshiping the almighty dollar and do have the worst customer service. But for a business, a smart business to stay in business, they have to remember that their customer service is what matters most. How they treat those who keep them in business is essential to staying in business. Because we care about how we are treated, even when buying a simple pair of pants or even a car. 

Take for instance, this story from American Express Company. Written by Sandi Krakowski, she talks about her experience buying a car from a local dealership. She states, “I recently bought two cars from the same local car dealership, two months apart. The first purchase was like doing business with a longtime friend. The staff welcomed us, and everybody made sure we were taken care of. The salesman queried us about our needs and preferences, explained features and options we weren’t aware of, and answered our questions. We felt like our purchase was the most important one of the day. And at no point did we feel pressured. When it came time to buy another car, the decision about where to buy was easy!” So instead of being focused on making the sale the salesman focused on the needs of the customer. They helped Sandi and her family feel as though they were cared for and even loved because he took the time to figure out her needs and wants. He tried to understand where they were coming from and helped make suggestions he thought would help based on that information. 

Although some might see it as counter productive maybe it would be beneficial to use the great examples in commerce to help in service. Charity is a transaction. There may not be an exchange of funds necessarily, but there is an exchange of goods. Think about the best experience you had with customer service. I know we all have our bad stories and our bad experiences, it happens. But think about the good ones. What was good about it? Why did you feel appreciated? What did it make you want to do? If something as materialistic as purchasing a car, like Krakowski’s example, can make us feel like friends instead of customer and salesman, what worked in that customer service transaction? 

For me, I had a great experience with Apple. One day I couldn’t get a song to play on my iTunes. I tried everything on their website help section and it didn’t matter what I did, this song would not play. I called their customer service for help and within a little bit of time the song was playing again. As a kind gesture for my trouble they gave me four free credits for songs. The woman I talked to was kind, asked me all the right questions and made me feel like my concerns were being met. I loved the customer service so much that I never stop telling people and I want more songs to break just so I can call again. They have my business. 

Isn’t that interesting? Just because they were kind and understanding, I will shop with them again. That’s what a transaction of service could use–customer service. Great businesses know that they are there to serve the customer. Let’s use that thinking and remember that we are here to serve our fellow man; it’s one of our greatest responsibilities. Love is as important in customer service just as love is important in service. How can you truly help someone if you don’t love them, if you aren’t kind to them, if you don’t understand their needs? 

Again, I don’t want the focus here to be about the business. But I want to focus on the tools that businesses use in customer service that help create the great experiences that make us want to keep coming back. Tools, such as listening, understanding, kindness (even in the face of anger because let’s be honest, we all have yelled at someone in customer service who we knew didn’t deserve it), and help. If we can implement some of these tools into how we treat those we serve, then we can show that we love them.

A lot of the tactics of good customer service aren’t new and aren’t just practices used in businesses. They are good principles that can be used in any area of our lives. We could use a little more kindness and understanding in our world. That’s all service really is–kindness and understanding. We focus on their needs, or their feelings, or their struggle. In that way we can learn how to help them best. So maybe it’s time service take a page from customer service and put the people we serve first. That’s how we can show them that we love them, that we care about their needs, and that we truly want to help. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Where there is love there is life.” So let’s love. 

Giving: The next and third principal of living the law of abundance is a pretty obvious one because you can’t have the law of abundance without the principle of giving. It’s like cookies and milk or pie and ice cream or maybe I’m just hungry. But the two go together like Sandy and Danny, they go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. Tell me about it, stud. So having one without the other just wouldn’t be possible. To truly live the law of abundance we must give. 

There are so many ways that we can give every single day. Some bigger and some smaller. And there’s no limit to the amount of times we can give in a day and there’s no limit to the amount of people we can help in a day. I mean, obviously there is a personal limit of what you can handle. But if you can help seven people in a day, do it. The greatest thing is that we don’t have to limit ourselves in giving as long as we can feasibly, physically, and financially help more people, we can. 

Giving also comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes giving your clothes away that you don’t use is enough, sometimes a situation requires your time. Like helping a friend move would require your time. Another way to give is an obvious one–money. Giving money is probably the hardest sometimes because money, as they say, makes the world go round. It’s a commodity, it can mean the difference between life and death sometimes. But giving, even financially is a big part of living the law of abundance. 

As I stated there are so many different ways that we can give. Giving doesn’t have to be just giving money or clothing and sometimes it doesn’t even have to come from you directly. Ron Lynch is a great example of a great and unique way to give. Lynch, a mail carrier in Sandy, Utah was delivering the mail when he noticed a young man starved for reading material. Mathew Flores, desperate for something to read, was using advertisements and newsletters that he found in the junkmail bin. Lynch was determined to find better reading material and shared a short post on Facebook, hoping to get a few donations from friends and family. However, they got more than they expected. According to the Deseret News article, “Lynch shared a picture of Mathew on Facebook, hoping a few of his friends would have some books to spare. The post spread worldwide, and even before Lynch arrived at Mathew’s home Sunday with a box of reading material, strangers who had read the post had already sent their contributions.” For days their doorbell was ringing with contributions from places as far away as the UK, Australia, and India. 

Lynch and Flores’ story is a beautiful example of someone personally giving something to someone else and the blessing of this giving experience has touched many around the world. Lynch sacrificed his time to make sure that Flores has something to read. That is what giving is all about. Giving is about the other person, their needs and how we can help them. Would this story be as wonderful and touching if Lynch had just given Flores some more advertisements to read? Or if he’d given him some clothes, even though it was books he needed? Obviously not. The blessing of giving goes beyond just handing stuff over that we don’t need or just because we want to seem nice. Giving is about understanding the need and giving from a place of love. 

Receiving: This fourth and last principle of living the law of abundance is kind of surprising because the law of abundance is about giving not receiving, right? Wrong. The law of abundance is about both. The law of abundance can’t work if people are unwilling to receive the gifts or blessings they are given by others, can it? No it can’t. We must set aside our pride and graciously receive the help that we are given. Sometimes that can be hard. 

It takes putting pride aside and allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open to help. Vulnerability isn’t weakness, it’s about wholehearted living. In an audio book called “The Power of Vulnerability” given by Brene Brown, we learn that vulnerability is about being able to open yourself up to people and accept that sometimes we don’t have all the answers and sometimes we need help. But also that it’s okay to be vulnerable with people. It’s how we make connections and how we feel a deep sense of love and belonging. She states, “A deep sense of love and belonging is an irreducible need of all people. We are biologically, cognitively, physically, and spiritually wired to love, to be loved, and to belong. When those needs are not met, we don’t function as we were meant to. We break. We fall apart. We numb. We ache. We hurt others. We get sick.” We all feel the need to belong and to feel as though we matter. But to do that, to make connections we must be vulnerable. She states, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness.” We must be vulnerable to make that connection with others. Accepting help is a huge step in vulnerability. 

When we are in need, when we are struggling, it’s okay for us to ask for help. Those that love us or those that are open to loving us will not mind our vulnerability and will accept us for all that we are. As Dr. Seuss once said, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” Vulnerability is a step in the direction of living a more abundant and fulfilling life. We must be vulnerable to accept help when we need it. That is how we live the law of abundance. 

So to review, the four basic principles of the law of abundance are first, understanding. We must seek to understand those we serve before we serve them to truly see the need. The second principle is love. We must love those we serve. Truly living the law of abundance isn’t about just giving stuff or doing things because we feel obligated to, it requires love. The third principle is giving, even in small ways, giving is a basic principle of the law of abundance as wet is to water. Last but not least, the final principle of the law of abundance is receiving. To receive we must be vulnerable and willing to ask for help. For the law of abundance to work, for giving to work, for love to work, for understanding to work we must be open to accepting the cyclical flow of the law of abundance. If we can’t accept help and love, others can’t give. These four principles are like the fantastic four of the law of abundance. A team of principles that can change the world if only we live the law of abundance.  

Homework: I would suggest trying to do one thing each day that hits on one of the four principles. For the first principle, have a conversation with someone and try to practice empathetic listening. Pay attention to body language, sounds, behavior, and feelings you have while talking to them. For the second principle, do something nice for someone to show that you love them. Serve them in some way, even if it’s small. For principle three and another day, look for a way to give to someone. Whether it’s giving to fill a spiritual need, a physical need, or an emotional need, what is something you can do to give to another human? 

As a homework assignment for the last principle I would suggest listening to Brene Brown’s book The Power of Vulnerability. Not only will you learn about vulnerability. But you may also learn so much more about how to live wholeheartedly or live more abundantly. If listening to the book is not possible, maybe just do some studying on Brown’s research on shame and vulnerability. Then look for opportunities to receive help or allow someone to give to you.  

The Need for the Law of Abundance 

September 11, 2001 two planes were flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York City, one was flown into the Pentagon, and one crashed into a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania — 2,977 innocent people died that day and more than 6,000 were injured. December 26, 2004 a tsunami tore through at least eleven countries. 100 foot waves caused by the second largest earthquake ever recorded, the Indian Ocean tsunami claimed the lives of nearly 230,000 people who were either missing, killed or presumed dead. August 29, 2005 a category 3 hurricane, infamously named Katrina, blasted through the Gulf Coast, causing damage from Florida to Texas. But when the levees failed, it was New Orleans that saw the most catastrophic results of the storm. Hurricane Katrina covered 80 percent of the city in floodwaters for weeks after and claimed the lives of 1,836 innocent people. 

January 12, 2010 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the humble country of Haiti, killing what is roughly estimated as 100,000 to 300,000 people, the total number still unknown and debated, and leaving 1.6 million people homeless. December 14, 2012 in Newtown, Connecticut a disturb teen fatally shot 20 young children and six adult staff members of Sandy Hook Elementary school causing what was one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. August 17, 2017, tied with 2005’s Hurricane Katrina as the costliest cyclone on record, Hurricane Harvey hit land. It was the first major hurricane since 2005’s Wilma to arrive in the United States. Hurricane Harvey caused 107 confirmed deaths. October 1, 2017 a crazed man opened gunfire on a group of concertgoers on the Las Vegas strip attending the Route 91 Harvest music festival. After firing 1,100 rounds into the crowd a crazed gunman left 58 people dead and 851 injured. It is now recognized as one of the deadliest mass shootings in the history of the United States.

In the past seventeen years, these were some of the most notable and influential news stories. Every day, we read in the news of other, less known, yet still heartbreaking tales of tragedy. It seems at every turn, every second of the day, in every part of the world there is something to find sorrow in–pain that fills the soul to breaking, heartache that no medicine can cure. These tragedies, although different in their source and each one unlike the other in the pain that was caused, all contain one basic truth–we need each other. Need with a capital N. We need something better, greater, more profound. Ram Dass, an American spiritual teacher and former clinical psychologist, and academic once said of life, “We’re all just walking each other home.” 

What a beautiful and powerful image, and it mirrors the sentiment of a common saying and poem that you may recognize; No Man is an Island. The poem written by John Donne (1572-1631) an English poet, masterfully paints an image of what this life is all about. 

“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as any manner of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” 

No man is an island. We are all “involved in mankind.” We should have each other’s six, we should be there to hold each other up. We need each other and we have needs that should be filled by each other. Whether that’s friendship, a helping hand, a good laugh, or someone to help carry the load, we have needs that should and could be met by each other. 

William George Jordan, an American editor, essayist, and lecturer, wrote a book called, The Crown of Individuality in which he shares what he calls “the hungers of life”– four basic needs or hungers that we have as humans. Those hungers are known as heart-hunger, mind-hunger, body-hunger, and soul-hunger. He states, “Hunger is the voice of a void. It is Nature demanding her rights. It is the restless insistent cry of an instinct, clamoring to be satisfied. There are four great hungers of life, –body-hunger, mind-hunger, heart-hunger, and soul-hunger. They are all real; all need recognition; all need feeding.” These hungers are a basic human need that all need to be fed. 

I do not intend to diminish such complicated pain and tragedies as shared above, to a simple answer. There is so much more to the ‘why’ in a lot of them. Nature cannot be reasoned. However, I do believe that if we had a little more of these needs or hungers met, tragedies in general would diminish significantly. 

Jordan goes on to say that one of the most important hungers to feed and the one we’re all starving in, is heart-hunger. He states, “The claim of a hungry body has right of way over all other needs. It requires no credentials, no argument, no advocate. It holds a first mortgage on the sympathy and aid of humanity. But the hunger for food while being most irrepressible, most immediately compelling, has no monopoly on the hungers of life. In the world to-day there are in reality more people starving for love than for bread. There is more heart-hunger than body-hunger– more unsatisfied yearning for sympathy, affection, companionship, kindness, and appreciation than for food.” The heart-hunger need, the need for love and appreciation, the need for love and belonging, or even just simple kindness is most needed today. Right now. 

The greatest thing about the law of abundance is that this law fills those needs. All of them. Because the law of abundance is so versatile, you can live the law of abundance by giving blood, sharing time with a friend or a stranger, donating necessary items to those in need. To live the law of abundance and fill these hunger needs we can donate food to the body-hungry, we can provide funding for scholarships to the mind-hungry, we can be a shoulder to cry on for the heart-hungry, and we can pray with those who are soul-hungry and in need of spiritual lifting. If we are blessed with an abundance of something and share it, that is living the law of abundance.

Many people are already living the law of abundance. But imagine for a moment if everyone lived it. What could be accomplished? What pain could be alleviated? How could the world be changed in a positive way? Take one moment, one simple second and look at the world around you. There is good to be had here. We just need to find it, or build it, or create it by living the law of abundance. If we’re all just walking each other home let’s make sure we all make it home safely. Because we are all involved in mankind. 

Suffering man covering his face by handkerchief while his counselor giving him glass of water

Homework: I would suggest finding someone with a need and discover what that need is. There are many, many people in the world who have needs. So find someone and discover their need. If you can, fill it. Sometimes it may not be specifically that need but something smaller to help alleviate that need. For instance, if someone is struggling financially but you don’t really have the funds to give them money, find a way that you can alleviate that suffering. Bring them dinner one night, offer to watch their kids for free so they can have a night alone, send them a message of encouragement, or say “hi” with a smile to brighten their day. For the law of abundance to work, sometimes that’s all it takes. 

Abundance vs. Scarcity Mindset: How to Live in Abundance

In Medium, an online magazine containing articles on pretty much any topic under the sun, former race car driver Rafael Sarandeses shares his perspective on the abundance vs scarcity mindset. He tells a story about his son sharing a favorite toy and how that simple act of kindness from a child reminded him of the power of giving. Giving can create a more fulfilled life for everyone. But to give we must overcome the mindset of scarcity. Sarandeses shares his thoughts on scarcity and abundance, he says, “The paradigm of scarcity is one in which you consider life to be one big pie. A global zero-sum game. If someone takes a piece, then there is less pie for everybody else. Your gain is my loss. People in this mindset are defensive. Worried about protecting what they have more than they are willing to grow out of their self-imposed boundaries to achieve more. 

People living in an abundance mindset believe, instead, that there is enough out there for everybody. That a partnership may be better than going solo. [ . . . ] That decision making, profits and good ideas are worth sharing to build something bigger than themselves.” So a scarcity mindset is believing that there just isn’t enough in the world for everyone and if I gain, you lose and vice versa. But an abundance mindset is understanding that there is enough for everyone in the world, your gain is my gain, and because we are giving and loving, we both win. 

According to researcher Brene Brown, we live in a scarcity culture. We go to bed thinking we didn’t get enough done that day, we wake up thinking we didn’t get enough sleep, and then we go throughout our day believing we don’t have enough time to get things done. This is a scarcity mindset. It’s also what Brown calls our culture of ‘never enough’. I’m gonna refrain from singing The Greatest Showman popular song “Never Enough” just know that it’s going through my head right now.  

Continually, we live in a culture where every second of our day is spent believing that there isn’t enough. Brown also talks about how this culture seeps into our own belief about ourselves. That we constantly fall into the false idea that we aren’t beautiful enough, strong enough, brave enough, or smart enough. Of course many things are to blame for this mindset. Media, social media, Hollywood, the commercial industry, all of these things make money off of us believing the idea that we aren’t enough or that there isn’t enough for everyone. Scarcity mindset feeds off of our fears and to fully live an abundant lifestyle we must overcome the scarcity mindset. 

So what is something we can do to overcome the scarcity mindset? Well, it comes down to a principle that many people have pointed out. It’s a religious principle but also a simple principle that many people practice as a way to recognize the abundance in our lives–count your blessings. When we take the time to stop and look at what we actually have, we can see how blessed we are and how much abundance exists in our lives. 

In his website MichaelHyatt.com, Michael Hyatt, author, speaker, and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, shares this same idea of how to overcome the ‘perceived’ scarcity mindset. In an article titled Perceived Scarcity in a World of Outrageous Abundance he approaches just how much the scarcity mindset can rob us of living abundantly. He states, “Regardless of our culture of perceived scarcity–or our individual circumstances–we all can point to assets, blessings, and gifts in our lives. That’s why I say perceived scarcity. It’s not real. Yes, there are a million things we don’t have. But there are a million that we do. If we can see through the right lens, we have all been given more than we can possibly ask or imagine. That lens is called gratitude, and it’s a lens that amplifies everything good in our lives instead of causing it to shrink to insignificance. While it’s the easiest thing to fall into a scarcity mentality, gratitude helps us cultivate a mindset of abundance.” To summarize, what Hyatt is saying is that if we just take a second to look around us through a lens of gratitude we will be able to see the abundance. It’s like putting on those glasses that you used to get in the kid’s cereal when you were younger. You couldn’t see the hidden message on the back of the cereal box until you put on those special glasses. Well, that’s looking at your life through the gratitude lens. Suddenly the message isn’t that there isn’t enough or that we don’t have or aren’t enough, the hidden message comes through loud and clear–there is enough. We are enough. We have enough.  

Looking through a lens of gratitude is also a similar idea to getting some perspective. Sometimes as humans we can have a tendency to lose perspective on what is real and what isn’t. Therefore, it becomes necessary to gain a little perspective. For instance, with the trials we go through in our lives, sometimes the pain and heartache can feel so deep and suffocating but then when we compare the bad things that have happened to us to the good things, we see that life isn’t as bad as we think. This is not to diminish the pain that we are going through. But it can help us to gain some perspective. 

This is something that UCLA Medical School psychiatrist Dr Stephen Marmer addresses in a recent video he made for Prager University. In this video titled Building Resilience: 5 Ways to a Better Life, Dr Marmer establishes five ways that we can become more resilient. The first thing he suggests is to first get some perspective. He states, “First, get some perspective. Step back and assess your situation with as much objectivity as you can. ‘How bad is this problem?’ ‘Have I overstated it?’ Sometimes my patients think an unhappy occurrence is much more serious than it really is — usually because it’s amplified by evoking a painful childhood issue. Often getting perspective is as simple as asking yourself this question: ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ Usually you’ll discover the worst thing isn’t that bad – and isn’t even likely to happen.” So we can see that gaining perspective on a situation, as Dr Marmer states, helps us to be more resilient and can also help us to overcome the scarcity mindset.  

The second way that we can be more resilient that Dr Marmer talks about is comparison. Not comparing our stuff to other people’s stuff but comparing the good in our own life to the bad in our own life–also known as looking through a lens of gratitude. He says, “Second, compare the undeserved bad things that have happened to you with the unearned good things that have happened to you. When I ask my patients to do this, they invariably conclude that the unearned good in their life far outweighs the undeserved bad. I’d say the ratio is at least 10 to 1. In my own case, I didn’t earn the incredibly good fortune of my grandparents moving to America, or that life-saving penicillin was available to me in my childhood when I was sick. I could go on and on. And so could you. In light of this, maybe things aren’t so bad after all. In fact, they’re probably pretty good.” In summary, he states that to be more resilient we must weigh the good unearned things in our life to the underserved bad. So the best way to be resilient is to count our blessings, focus on the good and compare the good to the bad. Without a doubt the good will outweigh the bad. 

Therefore, counting our blessings (i.e. looking through a lens of gratitude, i.e. comparing the good to the bad) will help us to be more resilient and overcome the scarcity mindset which will help us to live a more abundant life. 

However, having gratitude isn’t just about having an attitude of gratitude as is so often the catchy phrase people share. I believe that to live a fully abundant life, we shouldn’t just have an attitude of gratitude but actually live gratitude. This is something that Brene Brown talks about in her book The Power of Vulnerability. She addresses the idea that many of us can say we have an attitude of gratitude but do we actually practice gratitude. An example that she gives is Yoga. She comically shares that she can have an attitude of Yoga–for example; she has a Yoga mat, Yoga shoes, and even lives in Yoga pants but she doesn’t actually practice Yoga. This is how having an attitude of gratitude is different than actually practicing gratitude. 

In a video interview that Brene Brown did for The Center for Spirituality and Healing, Brown talks a little more about the difference between having an attitude of gratitude verses practicing gratitude. She says, “When I say practice gratitude, I don’t mean kind of like the attitude of gratitude or feeling grateful. I mean practicing gratitude. These folks shared in common a tangible gratitude practice. They either kept gratitude journals, some of them did interesting things like at one, two, three, four, like at 12:34 everyday they said something out loud that they were grateful for.” Talking about the people from her research who were practicing gratitude, Brown shares some simple, yet effective ways that people practice gratitude. She goes on, “One of the things that we do, like we say grace at dinner. So now, after grace we go around and everyone in my family says something that they are grateful for.” To summarize Brene Brown, practicing gratitude means doing something tangible every day. 

Getting ourselves out of the scarcity mindset isn’t going to be easy. It will take work. We are pummeled every second of every minute of every day in our lives by it. When we watch TV, when we listen to music (sorry Loren Allred), in the stores we shop, even driving passed billboards. Scarcity mindset is everywhere and it’s tempting us to fall prey to it’s trap. However, if we want to live an abundant life, a truly abundant life, we must overcome that scarcity mindset. The law of abundance is a wonderful thing but there is no room for scarcity within it. 

Homework: I think it would be essential for us to practice gratitude. There are many ways to do this and you can find the best one that works for you. But some great examples on how to practice gratitude this week are set an alarm on your phone each day to remind you to say or think of something you are grateful for, whether it’s something that happened that day or something for which you’re just grateful. Another way is to start a gratitude journal. Make sure to set some kind of reminder to write in it until you create the habit of writing but take a moment each day to write something down. Or when you feel yourself getting into the scarcity mindset, count to ten and then look at the issue through the lens of gratitude, weigh the bad and the good (maybe even writing some things down), and gain some perspective.

Author:  Ashley Christensen

Sources: 

Source for principle 1: Covey, Stephen R. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press, 1989. Print. 

Source for principle 2: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/why-showing-your-customers-the-love-is-more-important-than-the-sale/ 

Source for principle 3: Source: https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865633288/Sandy-mailmans-plea-for-books-gets-worldwide-response.html 

Source: Jordan, William George. The Crown of Individuality. New York: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1909. Print. https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Crown_of_Individuality.html?id=kDIYAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=onepage&q=63&f=false 

Source for principle 4: Brown, Brene. The Power of Vulnerability. Narrated by Brene Brown, audiobook, Sounds True, 2012. Audible.com 

Rafael Sarandeses quote: https://betterhumans.coach.me/a-guide-to-the-science-of-giving-ba007d9304ff 

Michael Hyatt quote:  https://betterhumans.coach.me/a-guide-to-the-science-of-giving-ba007d9304ff 

Dr Stephen Marmer quote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPMqMJMiBiA 
Dr Brene Brown: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IjSHUc7TXM

Intentional Living

What is Intentional Living and Why Should You Want to Live an Intentional Life?

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”

–Nora Roberts

At the beginning of a new year, many people take the time to set New Year’s Resolutions and goals for ways they can improve themselves and be better in the coming year and into the foreseeable future. Although, goals and resolutions can be made at any time, they are most commonly made and talked about at the beginning of the new year. While many resolutions and goals are made with the best of intentions, many are merely words on a page with not much thought given a week into the new year, or a few days after being made. In fact, a majority of people go so far as to forget their resolutions and goals entirely, never to look at them again after they are written down.  So, why is it that so many people take the time and effort to make and write down their resolutions only to forget about them shortly thereafter? Many, myself included, like to write down goals and resolutions as a means to try and find a way to give our life purpose, to improve and become better; yet shortly thereafter we return to normal life, not giving a second thought to the goals and resolutions we made for the new year.

One way to improve and to structure your goals, with the intention of giving your life purpose is to implement the idea of intentional living. If you are like me, and many others, you might be wondering, “what is intentional living?  Why should I try to live intentionally?”. I am so glad you asked! There are many reasons and perks as to why you should consider implementing an intentional lifestyle. The idea of living an intentional life, is very freeing and exciting, as it helps you to find and provide direction and purpose to your life, all while living your best life. It helps you to remember your goals long after the new year has passed, making your goals and resolutions more than mere words on a page.

The concept of living an intentional life is meant to help you be more aware of what you do and why you do it. This can apply to every aspect of your life—education, career, family, relationships, etc. All of this is intended to help you to be more aware of your choices, ultimately helping you to live the life that you want. Whether you have short term or long-term goals, living intentionally can help you achieve these goals and stay accountable to yourself and others.

What is Intentional Living?

Intentional living has been defined countless different ways, by more people than you can count. The way in which I found, intentional living defined, that resonated the most with me, at its most basic definition is: “intentional living is being able to answer why in regards to why you do things in your life and being happy with the answer”. Sounds simple enough, but there is actually more to it. Intentional living is being aware of what you do in your life and why you do the things you do. This enables you to live your life with purpose, instead of just going through the motions; living with no direction or purpose.

This can pertain to every aspect of your life, from why you work where you work to why you socialize with whom you socialize with, and every other aspect of your life. Developing an understanding of your why, generally stems from your core beliefs and values. It also comes from the desire to live a life that is full of purpose. Be the author of your own story, and write a story of your life that you are proud of and leave behind the legacy you want to be remembered for.

It is not all that uncommon for young adults to find themselves at a crossroad where they aren’t sure what it is that they want to do with their life. It is at these pivotal moments that they have a decision to make regarding how they are going to live their life these decisions are vital for what direction their life will take and affect their future. Are they simply going to drift through life or are they going to live with purpose and intention? Although, it is most common among young adults, older adults who are going through, what is commonly referred to as a “mid-life crisis” also experience similar feelings of not knowing what to do with their lives. In these instances, there are a few things you can do, to determine the best course of action for moving forward. 

Start by thinking about and describing what a perfect day would look like in your life. Be sure to include every tiny detail, accounting for every second from the moment your eyes open up in the morning to when your head hits the pillow at night. What would you do to fill the time during the day? Who would you spend the day with? Where would you be, at home or on an exotic island?

While this might seem like a simple, almost too simple idea, but it does serve a couple of different purposes, to help you establish an intentional lifestyle. First, when you take the time to imagine every tiny detail of your perfect day, you are helping to clarify your priorities, values and dreams. You are able to determine the specifics of your perfect day, which provides you with direction to work towards. For example, if your perfect day consists of you traveling around the world—what exactly will that look like? Will you work hard while you’re younger so that you are able to travel the world without having to return to the office in between trips? Will you travel alone or with a significant other or friend? Knowing the specifics of your perfect day, will help you understand what it is exactly that you are working towards, while providing you with valuable motivation.

Secondly, when you picture your perfect day, use it to compare to your current “everyday” situation. How are they similar? How are they different? Are there any small changes that you could make now that will help you to work towards your ultimate perfect day? Are there things that you could let go of that will make it easier for you to achieve your perfect day? Use the idea of comparing the two days as motivation to help you get started making the changes and setting goals to work towards where you ultimately want your life to end up.

What You Need to Know About Living an Intentional Life

When you live your life with intention, you have direction and purpose to help you achieve the life that you want to live. This way of living also creates an environment for growth, peace and happiness. It forces you to reflect on your current life and make the necessary changes to get you living the life you want.

Intentional living does not mean you have everything for your whole life figured out at this very moment. Even though you probably don’t have every detail of your life figured out, living an intentional life does mean that you live with purpose; having purpose behind your daily actions. When implementing an intentional living lifestyle, it is good to keep in mind that you can choose to be intentional about the direction in which you want your life to go, without knowing what the final destination is going to be. Having an idea of where you want your life to go and what you want to achieve in your life, can give you a starting place, a jumping off point so to speak, even if you don’t have all the details figured out. This enables you to start working towards your ultimate end goals, while all the small details along the way work themselves out.

The driving force behind intentional living is your core values, which dictate how you choose the direction your life is going to go. Essentially this means that while you don’t need to have your entire life figured out, you do need to know what is most important to you. Every one’s core values are going to be different from one another. For most, their core values stem from society, their family, religious beliefs, and even television and media ideas of what is most important. Examples of core values can include loyalty, honesty, commitment, open-mindedness, and dependability. For me, my values include my relationships with others, family and furthering my education, just to name a few. Knowing what my core values are, has helped me to live my life with purpose. Ensuring that my choices lead me to achieving the goals  I have set for myself and for my future.

If you are unsure as to what your core values are, take some time to think about moments and times in your life when you experienced happiness or felt proud. Use these moments as jumping off points and dig a little deeper. Think about the things that are most important for you in your life. Are you concerned with building and maintaining relationships with others? What about honesty, integrity or loyalty—are they important to you? What traits would you consider yourself to possesses? For most people, when we are living and acting in accordance with our core values, we experience joy and pride, which help us to align our lives with what we believe to be of most importance. Using this as your guide, you can align your decisions when navigating your life to ultimately reach your goals in life.   

Once you have determined what your core values are, you are able to start living an intentional life. Using your core values and beliefs as your moral compass that provides you with valuable direction, focused on what is most important to you in your life.

How to Live an Intentional Life

There are a few easy steps you can incorporate into your daily life, to enable you to start living life with intention. These steps include:

·         Taking Responsibility

·         Making the Decision Daily

·         Embrace the Process

Taking Responsibility

The biggest part about living intentional is taking responsibility for actions, and outcomes. Because life can and is unpredictable, even the most well laid plans don’t always turn out the way we intended, anticipate or hope that they will. It is at these times that it is important to take responsibility, regarding how you will respond to instances beyond your control. Such as, the dream job you applied for but didn’t get, are you going to let that hinder you from applying for other jobs and turn you into a couch potato living in your parent’s basement? Or are you going to learn from it and apply for other jobs; keep putting yourself out there, ultimately discovering the end result is better than what you were originally seeking.  Once you learn how to take responsibility and learn how to adjust to the different hiccups, twist and turns life throws our way, the easier it will be for you to be able to adjust to the hiccups that come up and disrupt your plans. The easiest way to respond and take action to the various curveballs that life tends to throw our way is to take responsibility for your life.

Make the Decision Daily

aGoodCause - man bare feet in the sand and arrows

The whole idea behind intentional living is making the daily decision, the daily effort to live the life that you want to live. To live the life that pleases you and brings you the greatest joy. In order to achieve this, it will require you to consciously and subconsciously make the decision that will keep you focused on the bigger picture. Make decisions that will get you closer to achieving your ultimate goals for life; personal, professional, educational, etc. When you start to question the reason for why you make the decisions that you make, you will begin to see a change in your life as your life aligns with your goals.

Embrace the Process

After deciding to adopt an intuitive lifestyle it is important to remember that it doesn’t just happen overnight. It is a process, a personal journey that will take time, but yields tremendous results. Although there is no final destination, no finish line to cross, it is all about making and implementing small improvements throughout your life, adjusting your way of thinking so that it is in line with the life that you want to live.

For me, the idea and practice of living an intentional life came about after I hit an especially low point in my life. I was in my mid-twenties, I was happily married and had graduated college with my undergraduate degree. I had all these hopes and dreams for the future—career, family and life goals in general.

It wasn’t until I found myself without a job for the first time in a decade that I was forced to reevaluate my life and what it was that I wanted out of it. For about the first week, I found myself not really eating, hardly sleeping; I was barely surviving from day to day. It wasn’t until I realized that I had the power within myself to change my situation. I couldn’t wake up the next day and miraculously have my dream job, but I could do little things that would help me work towards finding and landing that job.

I started by doing small things that I knew I had control over, simple things such as making my bed, doing laundry and even deciding what to eat for dinner. It was these small acts that gave me the motivation I needed to look beyond my current situation and plan for my future.

I knew I needed to find a job, even if it wasn’t a job I necessarily wanted to work at for the rest of my life. What ended up happening is that I was able to find a temporary job, and through that job I made connections that helped me to eventually land a job in the future that was similar to the job that I had originally been striving for.

This was all possible because I asked myself, “why”. Why was I in my current predicament and why did I want out of it? Once I knew the answer to these questions, I was then able to develop a plan of living intentionally so that I could change my life to what I wanted it to be. It started with me recognizing what my core values were, and what I ultimately wanted out of my life.

Learning to live an intentional life isn’t difficult, but it does take some time and work on your part. You have to be willing to make a change or multiple changes, and live with purpose. Stop doing things just to do them, do things because you have a reason to do them. For me, it was making my bed every day because that was one thing in my life that I was in control of at that moment, and it set the tone for the rest of the day.

Implementing an Intentional Lifestyle

 Implementing an intentional lifestyle into your daily life is quite easy to do, once you make the decision to do so. It all starts with having the desire that take your current life, and elevate it to what it can be, what you ultimately want it to be. Start by asking yourself the hard questions about why you do what you do with your life, and what you want to do and achieve. A common question that everyone hears all growing up, and into adulthood, is “where do you see yourself in five years?” ten years?”. Using this type of questioning, ask yourself, where you picture you and your life to be. Do you picture yourself to be retired, living on a private island, or perhaps you see yourself as the CEO of a fortune 500 company that you started?

Not only do you need to determine the direction that you want your life to go, you need to figure out the “why” for the ultimate vision you have for your life. Why do you want to retire on a private island? Why do you want to be the CEO? Why do you want your company to be a fortune 500 company? Why do you picture yourself, where you ultimately want to be in the future?

In addition to being able to answer the “why” in regards to the choices and decisions that you make for your life. It is important to remember that it doesn’t matter what others think regarding the way you are living your life. Most people are too busy trying to make a life that others will approve of, instead of trying to live their best life. When you focus on your own life, you don’t have time to worry about what others are doing or thinking; instead you are able to achieve your own goals.

Challenge

Now that you know a little bit more about intentional living, hopefully, you like me, are now inspired to implement this practice into your life. Set goals for your life, determine what your “why” is and what you can do to achieve what you want out of life. Figure out the “why” for your life and make it happen!  Set yourself up for some small wins, little things that you can accomplish with minimal effort daily. This helps to boost your confidence in deciding to live an intentional life and knowing you can reach the goals you have set for yourself.

Remember living an intentional lifestyle is not a list of checkboxes that need to be checked off. It is a continual process, something that evolves and changes as your ideas and goals for life change. Keep asking yourself “why” you do or want things in your life, and be happy with your answers.  This will lead to you living an intentional life with purpose that is unique to you and what you want out of life.

Author:  Ashley Christensen

Sources:

“4 Creative Exercises to Inspire Intentional Living.” Simply Fiercely, 14 May 2017, www.simplyfiercely.com/4-creative-exercises-to-inspire-intentional-living/.

“The Helpful Guide to Living an Intentional Life.” Becoming Minimalist, 25 Sept. 2014, www.becomingminimalist.com/the-helpful-guide-to-living-an-intentional-life/.

“An Intro to Intentional Living: 7 Things You Need to Know.” Simply Fiercely, 28 Mar. 2019, www.simplyfiercely.com/an-intro-to-intentional-living/.

“Intentional Living: What It Is and How It Works • Simple & Soul.” Simple & Soul, 23 Feb. 2017, simpleandsoul.com/intentional-living/.

“3 Simple Actions You Can Take To Live An Intentional Life.” Life Goals Mag, 29 June 2017, lifegoalsmag.com/3-simple-actions-can-take-live-intentional-life/.