Are you feeling down? Is money tight? Do you see the homeless guy on the street and realize you're only one paycheck away from starting on a downward spiral, straight to the gutter?
I know how to make you feel better. Ready?
Give some money away.
Wait! Don't run away. I know what ya'll are thinking. "But Mahala, I'm broke, strapped, scraping the couch cushions for pocket change. I don't HAVE money to give. And? This advice to give cash away smells a little cultish. What's next? Will you be starting the Mahala's Full Gospel Church of The Holler, asking us to forego clothing and stand atop a mountain, awaiting the Mother Ship's return????"
Simmer down friends. Just bear with me a second, kay?
Through the holidays we get used to tossing some coin in the little red bucket o' the bell ringer, but the rest of the year leaves many charities barely scraping by and believe it or not, helping others is the single most rewarding thing you can do to make you forget your own troubles.
I can see your eyes rolling from here. I'm not asking for donations for anything. I'm not going to tell you how much to give away or who to give it to. Before I share a few guidelines, the most important thing to remember is that when you give it away, it has to be completely selfless. No glory for yourself, no tax credit, no hope of a future heavenly reward. Also? There can be no conditions. No preaching the gospel, no requiring that the money be used for anything specific.
I KNOW OKAY? This goes against all the preachers, spirit leaders and soothsayers that promise you'll reap a just reward if you just give 10% of your income (usually to their church.) It also flies in the face of all the news media that begin most stories about charitable organizations by asking if you know where your money's going.
So here's what you do. Set aside a little cash with every paycheck. Start small. Really small. A quarter if that's all you feel comfortable with. Put that quarter (or dollar or $20 or whatever) in a special place in your wallet, purse or a hidey hole in your dash. Wait for the opportunity to give it away. It can be a donation jar by the cash register in your favorite convenience store, a street musician.. whatever. The moment you decide that this is money you've designated to give away, you're no longer attached to it. You'll find yourself looking for someone to give it to. Don't worry about if they really need it, if they're going to spend it on a drink or piss it away. It doesn't matter. If you give someone a couple of bucks and they spend it on something you wouldn't approve of, that's their Karma. Not yours.
It's not about the money. It's about the act. Share without judgement or condition. Stop thinking of it as a donation and start thinking of it as a gift. And? You can't tell anyone.
When you go to the office and tell your cubicle mates "Oh I saw this little old lady begging at the side of the road, she looked just PITIFUL, so I slipped her a $1," it's no longer about the gift. It becomes a way to boost your own ego, not only by glorifying what you've done, but also by belittling the recipient.
This is one of the problems I have with the Almighty Oprah. Don't get me wrong. I love The Oprah. I watch her Soul Sunday programming every weekend. But.. she talks a lot about trying to get her head around letting go of the "ego" part of our consciousness, yet she's devoted entire shows to giving stuff away. It's great that she shared that wealth, but it's obvious that it was also just good T.V., orchestrated to make The Oprah look like a kind and great person. "Look at ME! I"m giving away CARS!!!"
I'm not judging, I think she's still working on that one.
Try my advice for a week or two. Start small. See if you don't find yourself happily seeking someone in need of a little help. It'll warm your heart.
We'll talk again soon. Later Taters!