Monday, January 21, 2019

Take the focus off of yourself! What will you do to make a difference this season?

December 4, 2011 by  
Filed under News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Have you ever noticed how great it feels to make a difference in someone else’s life? Often, making a difference for someone else can make a meaningful difference in your own life. Let me share an example from my life.

A few years ago, I spent Christmas without any members of my family – a first for me. Although I had many close friends to spend the holidays with, I was tempted to throw a pity party about not being with family. However, when a close friend invited me to do some volunteer work on Christmas day, it took my focus off of myself and allowed me to have one of my most fulfilling and rewarding Christmases ever.

I have found that in many aspects of life, we can become so wrapped up in our own world that we insulate ourselves from the needs of others. Life is about  more than us. It is about how we serve others through our gifts, talents,  resources and experiences. It is through serving that you fulfill the purpose for which God created you.  If you continually focus on how everything and everyone in your life affects you, without consideration to the bigger scope of life, you will eventually find yourself empty, lonely, depressed or frustrated. I found myself heading down that path during the holidays – completely focused on myself, and as a result, finding reasons to feel sorry for myself. Have you ever been there? Well, I made a decision to snap out of it! We all have the power to choose our response to the major and minor challenges of life.

By making the decision not to focus on myself, but to instead focus on the needs of others, I learned a very valuable lesson. On Christmas day, we volunteered to help make the holiday special for families who were homeless, or did not have money for a big dinner or to buy toys for their children. As busloads of families arrived at a local theatre that was set up with dinner and gifts, I greeted children and their parents at the door with promises of a delicious meal and fabulous toys. The sheer gratefulness and excitement of the children and the adults whom I greeted at the door was the best Christmas present I could have received that year!

Reaching out to those in need helps us to feel that we can make a positive difference in the world. Volunteering and generous giving is one way to shift the focus from our own personal concerns to the needs of others. Helping those in need helps us to put our own lives into perspective. So if you haven’t planned something already, how about doing something to make someone else’s holiday special this year? Begin planning now, and you’ll have a more fulfilling holiday experience.

Contact your favorite charity directly, or contact a volunteer center in your county and they can let you know what charities are most in need of help, what type of help they need and the time commitment of each. Begin a new holiday tradition. Whether you are single, married with no children or have a family, traditions can give more meaning to the holidays. Here are a few ideas:

  • Adopt a family or deliver gifts to someone who could use some encouragement and love
  • Give a donation to your favorite charity
  • Choose s child from the angel tree at your church (some malls have angel trees as well!), and buy a special gift (or multiple gifts) for that child.
  • If you know someone at work or in your life who could use some financial assistance, do something special for them or give to them anonymously before Christmas.
  • Or create some brand new traditions of your own. Whatever you do, enjoy the privilege of giving. It s one of the greatest gifts we have.
Written by Valorie Burton
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