Influencers Help You Find Your Best Life

It is interesting, the tidbits of information you find out about your parents when they move close to you as they get older. I went to visit my parents this morning and came home with a briefcase full of reading materials my Dad has saved over the years. The materials in the briefcase were items from the last 3 decades. He told me to take it home… “there might be inspirations for your writing”. Knowing my Dad, I knew there is some good “stuff” to share.  

Typical to my personality, I had to first sort through the materials.  I gathered items based on topic and then had to put everything in order by month and year.  

NOTE:  Those who know me would say “well, of course, that was your first step.”

Anyway, after sorting, I skimmed through the items.  Yep, some good stuff for sure!

The most interesting aspect as I skimmed the items was that there were several places Dad marked with arrows or starred or used a paper clip. He also makes notes on the back cover with a page number and someone’s name who he feels would benefit from the passage or story. This is what my Dad has always done to keep track of the most meaningful passages.  I believe it is also his way of creating teachable moments…as I look through the materials now I recall many times over the years that Dad has taught me lessons of life, common sense, and responsibility from what he’s read.  I now see his intent was to help me become the best I could be and to do good for others.  He is showing me how to “Let My Life Sing.”

Below, I share some of the items I pulled from the briefcase today.  These items support the idea of seeing the big picture, thinking about the future, and how to succeed in life. While keeping the big picture in mind, the story told by these snippets also share the idea of learning from mistakes/failures, live for today, and hold the course to future dreams. 

Live to Influence Others is chapter 4 in Lessons My Father Taught Me (2016) by Michael Reagan.  Reagan states, “influence is something that you understand and appreciate better after you gain life experience, wisdom, and perspective.”  I believe we can all agree that life experience, wisdom, and perspective allow us to see the value in the thoughts of those influential in our lives.  Reagan went on the name key aspects of an “influencer” and these all are characteristics that could describe my Dad.  An influencer in your life…

**makes an investment of time to help and teach others
**provides direct and indirect guidance
**knows his audience
**knows what he believes in and why he believes it
**uses the events of the day as object lessons
**looks for opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others
**is a storyteller

Who have been/are influencers in your life?  Do the characteristics listed above apply?

Who are you hoping to influence?  Do the characteristics listed above apply?

Buddy Was an Odd Fellow

The IOOF is non-political and non-sectarian organization founded in 1819 in Baltimore, Maryland evolving from organizations in England formed in the 1700s. It is a type of social organization of members, a brotherhood, whose purpose is to develop lifelong friendships and to “improve and elevate the character of mankind.”  The aim of IOOF is to “provide a framework that promotes personal and social development.”

Membership is open to all regardless of sex, race, religion, political affiliation and social status – all bound by the desire to improve ourselves and the calling to live and promote the principles of FriendshipLove, and Truth which transcends labels. We believe that by developing close friendships among each other and by working together in our communities, we can make a difference in the world and among ourselves!  Discussing political, sectarian or any other debate is forbidden in the Lodge, so it breaks down the social walls and labels used to view others and opens hearts and minds to start seeing people as Brothers and Sisters.

January, I shared a story about my grandpa (Buddy), Second Chances.  After learning the truth about a community member, his friendship and love for the individual and the town he lived in embodied the ideals of this organization.  He helped someone in a way that extended beyond himself and was for the betterment of the community.  He displayed the character of friendship, faith, hope, and charity. I suspect that today Buddy’s efforts could categorized as a random act of kindness, an unexpected act of helpfulness; a way to be a better person, help others, and improve community.

The IOOF, to me, is about making the world a better place.  It is about empowering society one person at a time AND that each of us can make a difference. We each need to find our purpose and accept the responsibility that we can contribute to making our life and our community a more joyful, happier, and safer place.  Find a cause that is important to you and let your actions speak louder than your words.  Lend a hand and be the change agent you are meant to be.  

The purposes of the IOOF continues to be a guide to follow.  IOOF “breaks down the social walls and labels used to view others and opens hearts and minds to start seeing people as Brothers and Sisters.”

I have Buddy’s Odd Fellows ring.  The triple link symbol represents Friendship, Love, and Truth.  The symbol of crossing axes represents that truth must persevere. The part of us that does not bear “good fruit” must be cut away.

This ring is a reminder of the good man Buddy was. The good person I can be AND
the good that is in all of us.

Feeling Good About Giving

Over the past few weeks I reviewed information about how charitable behavior is associated to wellness (Marsh & Suttie, 2015, Moffett, 2019, Ramsey, n.d, Robertson, 2015, and Sanders & Tamma, 2015).  The concept of “feeling good about giving” is a frequent topic across the financial spectrum, nonprofit organizations, education literature, and wellness organizations.  The “feel good” aspect of giving is not far-reaching or revolutionary.  The contribution to personal wellness however does extend to psychological, spiritual, and emotional well-being.

Giving enhances sense of well-being in many ways, some of which are:

  • Helping others can lead to a sense of purpose
  • Taking actions in line with your beliefs can lead to inner peace
  • Donating can activate the pleasure centers of the brain
  • Contributing to a cause can promote generosity among others
  • Giving to a worthy cause can improve life satisfaction
  • Aiding a community program can promote social well-being at a local level

A 2009 study by Harvard Business School doctoral candidate Lalin Anik, Professor Michael I. Norton, and coauthors titled “Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior,” explores the ways in which charitable behavior can lead to benefits for the giver.  Their preliminary research suggests that advertising the emotional benefits of prosocial behavior may leave these benefits intact and might even encourage individuals to give more.

A few years ago, my husband and I decided we would like to make a monthly donation to organizations that align with our personal values and areas of interest.  Our primary motivation was not for a tax break or public recognition.  We are fortunate to be able to help proven organizations making an impact. We feel that our giving is an expression of gratitude to those who are working on behalf of the betterment of others.  Some of the organizations we support are:

The organizations above have all shared stories of their work with us. One example of the impact these organizations make on the lives of others is the story of Louis Torres. He started with Instruments of Change in 5th grade; excelled in middle and high school and is now at University of South Florida on a music scholarship. 

In many ways it is better to give than receive.  Giving is good…time, money, possessions…it is empowering to know that you are helping others.  Giving can also be beneficial to your emotional, social, psychological, and yes, financial wellbeing.  We find that giving to our selected nonprofit organizations (partial list above) is rewarding as we support those in need AND we support the work of those running the organizations.

McCoy (n.d.) acknowledges the multiple benefits of giving.

“Whether you’re interested in the tax benefits or have altruistic motives – or a little of both – you can end up getting back a lot more than you give when you donate valuable items, cold hard cash, or even your time to your favorite causes. In fact, the emotional, social, psychological, and financial benefits of charitable giving often outweigh the satisfaction of splurging on yourself or your family.”

Have you experienced the benefits of charitable giving in your own life?

Stuff Happens: Time to Retune

It is a challenge to objectively evaluate how life is progressing. I often make sports analogies in my writing however I find that “evaluating” life is hard to quantify or score. My first blog this year, Intentions Rather Than Resolutions, outlined plans for the year and I made the distinction between intentions and resolutions. 

To me, New Year’s resolutions are goals we think we “should” achieve while intentions are goals, we want to achieve.  Intentions set the direction for the upcoming year.  My intentions create my plan and the desired result I wish to achieve is my goal.

One expected outcome of setting your direction (goals) for the year is to have a happy life.  Lyubomirsky’s (2010) description of happiness aligns directly with Blooms to Blossoms purpose when she says that happiness is a state positive well-being combined with a sense of a meaningful and worthwhile life.

I have found that identifying a purpose is a guide to happiness and satisfaction.  This purpose leads to relationship building and gratefulness.

Purpose (Meaning) + Relationships (Linkage) +Gratefulness (Thankful) = Happiness

Kahneman & Deaton (2010) research on happiness supports the idea that objectively measuring how “life is going” is not easy.  They reviewed Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI) data, which include measures of subjective well-being, from 450,000 US residents collected by the Gallup Organization.  Two aspects of subjective well-being are emotional wellness and life evaluation.

“Emotional well-being refers to the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experience—the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant. Life evaluation refers to the thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it.”

The plans we make at the new year serve as a guide as we move through each month, week, and day.  At times, a “bump in the road” will result in an unexpected ending…sometimes better, sometimes not so much.  

Last week I was thinking about a couple “intentions” I have that have not progressed as I had hoped. During this time, my husband was upstairs practicing guitar (one of his primary hobbies).  When he begins his practice the first task is to tune his guitar.  There are four types of alternate tunings (open, instrumental, regular, and special).

“Open” tuning is the most simple and common tuning to “special” tunings which are a grouping of miscellaneous tunings created in recent years.  Anyone who plays guitar knows that it is a general rule to tune your guitar every day and that the tuning is determined by the piece of music selected.

There are several reasons a guitar goes out of tune; a couple examples are:

**Old strings can keep you from that perfect tuning. As they wear, they lost their capability to hold tension, making them feel brittle and less able to hit the fret. That will make some notes to sound sharp.

**Strings are affected by extreme changes in temperature, as they will expand when it’s warm (making it sound flat) and contract when cold (resulting in a sharper sound).

Listening to my husband tune his guitar made me realize that in life we need to retune or reset…lack of progress, a bump in the road, a crossroad leading to a change does not mean the intended purpose will not be achieved…the intended purpose may merely change. Confidence in the original plan may be high but the needed change may be a blessing in disguise.  

Fader (2014) published an article on Psychology Today using “tune your guitar” as an analogy to reach happiness. 

Purpose (Meaning) + Relationships (Linkage) +Gratefulness (Thankful) = Happiness

“Over time, a guitar inevitably comes out of tune—not because it’s a bad guitar, but because that’s the nature of guitars. In fact, the key to maintaining a guitar is to notice when it’s not in tune and continually re-tune it…”

“Keeping a guitar well-calibrated involves a series of small tunings and re-tunings. It should be the same way with happiness: your happiness may fluctuate, it may even bottom out, but this doesn’t mean you should envision a huge insurmountable pyramid in which you need to reach the pinnacle of self-actualization for true happiness. It just means you need to adapt to your new equilibrium, to re-tune your inner guitar. That’s what happiness is—our ability to make the small but meaningful adaptations to whatever life throws at you.”

Just like guitar strings there are many reasons plans/goals go out of tune…some we can control and some we cannot.  Stuff happens.  It is time to retune and reengage.

Spending time on yourself to further your personal development is a great way to value your well-being, happiness, and success.  McGinley (2017)