I just finished reading Thrive by Arianna Huffington. You might recognize her as the cofounder of The Huffington Post, the online news aggregator, but I was curious to see how Huffington would come across as an author. In Thrive, Huffington says “more and more people are coming to realize (that) there is far more to living a truly successful life than just earning a bigger salary and capturing a corner office.”
She sets out a new definition of success, guided by four “legs,” including well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving. On page 232 of the “Giving” section, Huffington urges us not to miss the small opportunities that abound every day:
“Because however successful we are,” she writes, “when we go out into the world to ‘get things,’ when we strive to achieve a goal, we are operating from a perceived deficit, focused on what we don’t have and are trying to obtain – until the next goal is achieved. And then we go after the next goal. But when we give however little or much we have, we are tapping into our sense of abundance and overflow.”
Intriguing, isn’t it? We want “abundance and overflow,” but pursuing them in the traditional sense isn’t working. Goals are important, but if the goal is only to complete it and move on to the next one, how fulfilled can we become? Life then becomes a lengthy to-do list, rolled up tightly, to be unwound at a frantic pace that leaves us worn and unsatisfied.
Huffington urges us to give, not from a sense of obligation, but because giving “is the only way to counteract the excessive greed and narcissism that surrounds us.”
She quotes the 19th-century naturalist John Burroughs, who said “The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world.”
For the last few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of helping an elderly neighbor. I stop by in the morning and again in the evening to prepare meals, keep her company and do light housework. Her pace has slowed mine. At 92 years old, she’s not concerned with amassing money or furthering her career; rather, her joys come from the beauty of our summer days and the visits, every evening, of a wild turkey to her country yard. Blessings are abundant in her life, and she never fails to rejoice whenever they appear.
How has giving helped you? How can you find joy in small, simple things?