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August, 2010:

Six Imperatives for Corporate Philanthropy

1.  Put it where you feel passion and purpose

2.  Support your giving

3.  Commit your organization – to the cause

4.  Be a vocal advocate and proponent

5.  Don’t spread the jam too thin

6.  Do not be a stranger

This is an intuitive formula, but often an overlooked one.  Philanthropy is not a corporate objective in all companies.  To be sustained and for it to be a viable part of the culture, it has to be woven into the logo and the mission.

Selecting causes with which to be identified is very important.  If not a sustainable association, the impact will be lessened.  Having a match that your associates can identify with and participate in will help to create a sustainable relationship.  It is more than just giving something back.  A dollar tossed into an open guitar case may provide a small measure of financial support, but a few minutes taken to enjoy the music will amplify the gift to the recipient and even help to attract others.  It is always nice to have an appreciative audience.

Seven Imperatives to Happiness

Nobody should have to suggest what it takes to make you happy.  The condition of your happiness and your joy should come from within.  We become caught up in the daily aspects of our life, and too often find our self reacting to circumstances.  We have to stop and think to retain control of our emotions and our actions.  All of us are conditioned by our environments or by the emotions that surrounded us in our formative years.  In a way it is like being hard wired.  The behavior is built in.

As we all know, these are often not the best reactive patterns for our own well being.  Sometimes we have to reprogram ourselves or to learn new patterns of behavior.  There are certain precedents to being happy.  The following seven imperatives can be identified by those who do the right things for the right reasons and live less stressful, happier lives.  If these are not incorporated in your behavior or happiness quotient, perhaps the wrong things are making you happy.

I am talking about things that you can control, things that mold who you are.  It may be better to be rich and unhappy than poor and unhappy.  Winning the lottery may make you very happy, but in and of itself, it will not sustain a happy lifestyle or a happy outlook.

1.  Be “all in”

Allow yourself the opportunity to appreciate the good things that surround you.  Have you noticed that some people can find a positive in virtually every circumstance while others seem always to find the negative.  I’ll wager that those who tend to dwell with the negatives are not really living in the now or they define now in negative ways.

Holding back to protect your feelings or to avoid being proven wrong will prevent you from experiencing.  It will prevent you from experiencing the highs as well as the lows.  When you manipulate your outlook in such a manner, you deny yourself the natural outcome.  Do this too often and you will be sheltering yourself from life.  There are times when you have to be all in, to know what it is to win, lose or draw from your own efforts.  If you are never all in, you can’t truly understand the game.

2.  Generosity

Kindness of spirit and intent, graciousness in giving and sharing and recognizing the value that others have to offer are integral to being happy.  If you think otherwise, perhaps you’ve missed the point.

A happier lifestyle is marked by generosity.  It all leads to the nobility of character and higher purpose that make the condition happy.  Take a full measure of life and leave some for others to enjoy.  Sharing enhances the experiences for everyone.  That is a norm in most philosophies, and it should be in yours as well.

3.  Make a Difference – Do the Right Thing

It may be a simple act of kindness – It may be a grand gesture.  Things are, after all relative.  There may be nobody watching, and it may not be apparent that you made a difference, but it should make a difference to you.  What did Shakespeare tell us – “To thine own self be true…”

Most likely, your act will be recognized and probably acknowledged.  It feels good to do good, and it is unlikely that feelings of conscience or guilt have ever accompanied such an expression.

4.  Live in the Sunshine, Don’t Dwell in the Darkness and Don’t Live in Fear

Things can hide in the shadows, and they just might go unnoticed in the light, but they can’t hide.  Call it a higher road taken, to let your actions speak for themselves.  Good deeds don’t require a spokesperson, they are there for all to see.

5.  Accept what You Must; Change what You Can; Don’t Worry About the Rest

Does this have a familiar ring – it should.  It has been said often enough.  Crawling your way through rush hour traffic may distract you from this reality, but there are exceptions for every rule.

Perhaps another way to express it is:  pick your challenges, they cannot all be contested successfully.  Don’t waste or turn positive energy into negative responses.  It won’t relieve the stress or improve the situation.  Fortunately, the more you practice this, the more success you will have with it.  You will be happier for having achieved it.

6.  Honor your Origins

Humble beginnings, tragic circumstances and adversity shape our character.  The outcome and destinations that await us are often unpredictable, but don’t forget from where you came…it is a part of who you are.

7.  Respect Life and the Rights of Others

Without deference to others there is no basis for our rights.  Gaining the upper hand does not make it fashionable to hold it above others.  There is always someone in a position to remind us that we do not represent the last word.  Respect is an image that you want reflected your way.