A Connection to the World

Mind if I ask you a question? Are you into anything that’s not all about you?

I’m going to let you in on a little mystery: life is better when we care about something bigger than ourselves. I have no idea why, but happiness actually seems to be inversely proportionate to how much time and energy we invest in ourselves. Simply put: we’re happier the more we care about others. Don’t ask me why, like I said, it’s a mystery.

Does this mean that if I sponsor a child in Africa, I’ll be happier? I can honestly say, “no.” I sponsor a young man, David Duncan, in Kenya (or is it Nigeria) and I am not notably happier because of it. I wouldn’t withdraw my support from David. I like getting his Christmas letter and I don’t feel bad about putting him through school – or whatever it is that I’m really doing – but I can’t honestly say I feel good about it either. OK, I feel good, but not like a real feeling. I’m not getting warm and fuzzy inside like I feel when I rescue a lost kitten. That says to me that sponsoring a child, however noble, is not a social passion for me.

Social passions – oh yea, I got ‘em; but it has taken a little effort on my part to figure out what they are and are not. My point is that if you have tried something in the past that was supposed to make you feel warm and fuzzy and you didn’t get the feeling, you have effectively eliminated something that is not a passion for you. You have a social passion, though. It may not have been adopting a mile of highway or cleaning animal cages, but don’t give up. Find that happiness that’s eluding you in the form of caring about something bigger than yourself. Volunteer. Give. Share.

Don’t know where to begin? Here are some suggestions, and no, sponsoring a child is not among them because I assume you have the 411 on that from watching late-night TV.

Minimal time: Can you click a mouse 13 times in rapid succession? Bookmark StyleSubstanceSoul.com, go there once daily, and from there, click 12 more times to make your daily donations to six causes that get credit for clicks. With high speed Internet, this will take a minute a day.

Think you don’t have anything left to give? Mocha Club will challenge that notion. This is a neat site that let’s you create a social network around your sponsorship of a good cause – all for $7 a month. If Mocha is your passion, you could end up interning with them, being a campus rep or even joining them on an Africa trip.

Moderate time: Got a weekend to spare every now and again? “If you are in a place where you want to grow, where you want to be involved in ministry that matters – if you can stand being challenged spiritually and the smell of 8th grade boys, then this is the perfect place for you to start,” says Katalyst Ministries Founder Kevin D. Kirkland. Learn more: Katalyst Weekends.

Megatime: Ready to do something really radical? I cannot begin to tell you how many people, upon learning that I was in the Peace Corps, have said, “I always wanted to do something like that.” Do yourself a favor and don’t become a person who can say that. Instead, just do it! www.PeaceCorps.gov.

Or if you’d rather pay to do good works in the name of God, rather than the U.S. government, check out ShortTermMissions.com, where you can search for an opportunity in any country, for any length of time, with a bunch of different organizations.

Totally freaked out by the prospect of international travel? How about a domestic year in missions? Visit MissionYear.org

And if none of the above floats your boat, I dare you to navigate all the way through this Web site without finding something that does: http://socialchangewebsites.com.

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