A young man of 31, who was enduring some serious life transitions, told me the other day that there is nothing positive in his present lot. Everything is a mess, he said, and nothing feels good. We talked about his daily routine. He’s a disabled Vet, unemployed and depressed. He spends much of his time sitting quietly in his small home, watching television and worrying. He sees few people, and uses none of his time and resources to reach out.
Except to his child, a three-year-old boy.
So I asked the young man, “Well, where is your son?”
“He’s here, on my lap,” came the reply. “He’s hugging and cuddling with me—thank God I have him.”
“But wait,” I said, “isn’t that positive? And don’t you have a home, and food on the table, and a TV, and clothing?”
Yes, he does have those things, and has lost sight of the positive gifts he enjoys every day. Oh, he could stand more wealth, and would enjoy some upscale living. But he agreed, as we talked, that there is much that is positive in his life, and that he does little to create openness to receiving more. He blocks his ability to receive by ignoring his ability to give to others.
Spiritual teacher Shakti Gawain believes that “We each receive gifts when we come into our life: talents, interests, and attributes, an ability to love and care for one another.” She says that when we live our truth authentically and share ourselves, we give our gifts to others and to the world. And we get back multifolds of what we give.
Most of us have a fair abundance of material treasures, too. Some people have more, some less, but most of us have more than we need. So, as we give of our own nature, shouldn’t we give something of our material stuff as well? It only makes sense that as we do that, we will open ourselves to positive energies that encourage generosity of others, and that put us in the paths of new opportunities.
Those paths might mean a new career or work opportunity that can bring better income or more satisfaction. It might mean that we can enhance our living style, or add relationships to our lives. After my young friend and I spoke for a while, he decided to find some volunteer opportunities. He felt he didn’t have enough money to give to someone else, but he surely had time and compassion.
And so he went to a local nursing home and offered to visit those who needed a friend. He brought his boy, and together they had a lovely time making frail older people laugh. After some days of this, he was offered a part-time job in the recreation program, and he took it. His heart felt lighter, his wallet grew fatter, and his child is learning to reach out to others in love and in hope. As I see it, there’s nothing more positive.