I’m sure you’ve noticed over the last few years that we have seen more division, vitriol, and contempt than we care to remember, and often wish we could forget. It seems that our 24/7 access to platforms of information has created a microscopic view of every issue while providing a voice for anyone with an axe to grind. Social media seems to bloom with opinion mobs discrediting, discriminating and dissecting every nuance of person, culture or existence.
I’ve personally tried to clean up my feeds by unfollowing, blocking or deleting things that add stress, anxiety, or anger to my day. It’s nearly impossible. And yet, I want to know what’s going on in the world and ‘fight the good fights’ pertaining to life today. It’s difficult to navigate around or through the constant battles of this group vs. that group, on issue after issue. Tell me you feel the same. It’s exhausting. Part of the problems exists because we’re too focused on our differences and forget how much we need each other.
I think its time for a reset. This piece is about remembering perspective, focusing on possibility and expressing genuine gratitude as we turn the corner into 2019. No, not some half-hearted resolutions that fade away by mid-February, but a purposeful state of being on how we can be our best self and in turn, help others. When we do that, everyone benefits. Our relationships flourish with our significant others, our kids, friends, colleagues, bosses and our customers. Our ‘best self’ literally sends positive vibrations into the air with an infectious nature.
It’s important for us to remember that we can’t fixate on THINGS while forgetting about PEOPLE. All of the collective work that is done here in the Lehigh Valley centers on the people and the relationships we build. Nothing else matters. And there is some great work being done by so many people who are committed to great causes.
Perspective is a powerful thing. Sometimes we need to see the world from a different view to appreciate what we have, be it the little things or major life circumstances. Valley Youth House is a perfect example. They have a great mission – to be the catalyst for youth to achieve their desired future through genuine relationships that support families, ensure safe places and build community connections. Until recently, I was personally unaware of how many kids spend their holidays in a shelter due to homelessness or some kind of living complication. This year alone, with the help from donors, over 1,200 youth will receive a holiday present through the annual Holiday Gift program. Christina Schoemaker, Senior VP of Development & Marketing, shares, “We are so thankful for the members of our community who help Valley Youth House fulfill our mission…the selfless generosity and heartfelt kindness displayed will help make the holidays brighter for the neediest of youth and families served by our community.”
When it comes to possibility, PBS39 is throwing its support behind a program debuting in the coming months. Jim Macdonald, Director of Marketing, explains, “We are working with The United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley to launch ‘Lehigh Valley Reads’…designed with the goal of having every student in the Lehigh Valley reading at grade level by grade 3. This is an important goal because up to grade 3; students are learning to read. After grade 3, they are reading to learn – and learning opens up a world of possibilities for each one of them.”
I believe the best form of gratitude can be expressed by helping others in need. We know from studies done by the National Institute of Health, among many others, that acts of kindness and feelings of gratitude flood the brain with dopamine. This natural high often motivates you to do even more good. At the same time, we’re all busier than we should be, distracted more than we even recognize and often too tired to add another “to do” on our list. It takes a committed approach for each of us to go beyond ourselves and offer something to others.
These are just some thoughts I’ve had throughout the year, and I hope we can all work on developing our best selves, whatever that may be for each of you. Make 2019 a year with inspired purpose, and I promise you’ll be better for it…others will too.
As a parting thought:
“Givers advance the world. Takers advance themselves and hold the world back.”