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Tips: Keeping Balance by Giving Back in Times of Crisis
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, October 2005

Is It Time to Start Giving Back?
The devastation of Katrina and now Rita forces many of us to reflect on our own lives and what is meaningful. Is our life in balance? Have we gotten off track from that which is important? Is it time to start giving back?

Giving Back Benefits Others and You
If you're left with feelings of loss and sadness at this time, maybe you can use our nation's natural distasters as a catalyst for committing yourself to some kind of service for others. Contributing is good for us and helps us heal from crises. And the plus is when you help others, YOU also benefit by:
Being a part of something larger than yourself
Making a difference in the word
Modeling for children
Working with others; not feeling isolated, alone or cut off
Improving your physical, mental and emotional health
Feeling good about touching other's lives.

Where to Begin?
If you want to volunteer and don't know where to begin, start small, keep it simple and let your charitable nature grow. Here are some ideas to get started:
1. Write a letter - Connecting with someone such as an inmate in jail is so simple yet so welcome.
2. Call a local chapter of any charity that has meaning to you (cancer society, homeless shelter, animal refuge) and ask what is needed.
3. Help in a local library.
4. Get involved with a cause or political campaign.
5. Hold and spend time with a baby in the hospital.
6. Play the piano at a nursing home.
7. Rake leaves or shovel snow for a home bound elderly person.
8. Cook a meal for your local shelter.
9. Help teach children to read.

Maintain your own balance and take a break from the problems of the world. Try not to be glued to the news or obsessed with situations beyond your control. Keep a "fresh" perspective by taking in a comedy or getting together for an enjoyable evening with friends.

A Thought
Happiness cannot come from hatred or anger. Nobody can say, "Today I am happy because this morning I was very angry." On the contrary, people feel uneasy and sad and say, "Today I am not happy because I lost my temper this morning." Through kindness, whether at our own level or at the national and international level, through mutual understanding and through mutual respect, we will get peace, we will get happiness, and we will get genuine satisfaction.

-His Holiness the Dalai Lama

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