Here we are at the holiday season — the time of year we become more conscious about kindness and giving. But rather than another column encouraging donations of toys or tossing the Salvation Army Santa a few bucks (though, those are nice things to do), I want to use this space to encourage an ongoing consciousness of good. An important pillar of health, it’s no easy task, and takes continued awareness and practice.
As a young adult, I had what, from the outside, looked like great success. Working in the film industry during NYU film school, I went on to continued achievement in Hollywood — something I thought would bring me purpose and happiness. But spending all my time and energy on commercial entertainment made me feel increasingly vacant, unfulfilled, and selfish.
In an effort to combat that negativity, I sold my house, moved to Portland, and made music largely about my frustration at what I saw in media manipulation versus “real world” realities witnessed while touring.
Life outside the Hollywood bubble wasn’t easy or glamorous for people. Still rolling along on “movie money,” though, I felt like I wasn’t one of those real-world people. When you are luckily privileged, a lot of us think we deserve it more than others. Meanwhile, those others are working just as hard, if not much harder, without the connections, advantages, support, or luck to get them to the next level.
When the recession hit, my savings dried up and I struggled financially, for the first time, as I figured out how to make a living doing things I believed in. It was scary, frustrating, and hard to swallow, but humility ultimately saved me. Every day, I’m thankful for what I’ve got. And I don’t mean things. Things are practically worthless. Experiences, relationships, family, health, peace of mind — this is where true value lies.
Most people really are just trying to get by without hurting or getting hurt. Every single one of us faces hardships, disappointments, traumas, trials, difficult streaks, and losses. These days, I rarely hesitate to round up a tip, use free time to volunteer, or give up something for someone else. It doesn’t matter if they “deserve it,” I just always have in my mind — will this mean more to me or potentially to another? Do I need this?
If you are in a good place, even just emotionally, spread that good. It’s invaluable currency — a smile, a dollar, an hour, a helping hand. It will all come back to you in gratitude, love, unexpected opportunity, or just your own calm comfort that you made someone else’s life better for the moment you ran over to help them carry that heavy box.
So, give a little bit. Give a lot. You will not only be helping others, you will be part of balancing out the weight of the world. And then? You’re free. To do good. To be good. To make good. To feel good. All the time.