• Steve Hanson

What We Give

Updated: Sep 22

Later this month, I will be speaking to a classroom of high school students in a small Wisconsin town. What I have been asked to do, is talk about the importance of writing, and how we continue to use it in our everyday lives. Of course, I will also use this occasion to speak about communication, and a bit about life, in general. I’m super excited. The truth is, for opportunities such as this, I always am. Not due to ego, or any ideas of great self-importance, but because it’s a chance to make a difference. Really and truly, to make a connection, and impact the life of someone else, in a positive way. We all affect others daily, for better or worse, but we probably don’t think much about it. Seriously, how often do we give ourselves credit for the power that our words or actions carry? Not often enough, in my humble opinion. I believe that perhaps, we become so obsessed with our own needs, that we sometimes fail to recognize just how easily the things we say and do, may hurt those around us. But if we are mindful of our ability to do harm, then we can most certainly live with an intent to do good. Honestly, it doesn’t take much. Smile. Compliment someone. Strike up a conversation with the person standing in line at the grocery store, and ask them how they're doing. Let your server or cashier know that they're doing a great job, and that you appreciate them.

As I said, it doesn't take much to brighten someone's day. But perhaps you want to go a little above and beyond, normal social etiquette. Maybe you want to give something of yourself, that’s going to give something back, to you. If that sounds selfish, it's understandable.

But, ask yourself this. What is it that you want in return, for your efforts?

Is it a promotion? Public accolades? Is it strictly financial gain? If so, your motives may very well be selfish. But if you're searching for something that's good for the soul, born out of a desire to inspire or help others by paying it forward, then there is nothing selfish about that. Selfish is when you, and you alone, are the only consideration.

But wanting to feel good about how we treat others, or how we choose to use our time, and/or our talents? That's self-care. And there is a BIG difference between the two.

There is an undeniable sense of satisfaction, that comes with doing something that gives purpose to our life; something that assures us that yes, we do indeed matter, and that there is a reason for our being. For me, that thing is having the ability to tell my story in a way that seems to resonate with others. At the very least, I find it to be cathartic.

But if I’m very, very lucky, something I say will reach someone who, at that moment, needs to hear it. Maybe it will change the way they see themselves, or the manner in which they interact with their peers. It’s even possible that they will finally find the strength, to ask for the help they desperately need. I mean, that's my intent, and I’m incredibly blessed to have been given the opportunity to try. The point here, is that each of us has something special to offer this world.

Whether it be through our career, our hobbies, or our volunteer work, each and every one us has something to say that is worthy of being heard.

What we all have in common, is a responsibility to find our own, unique voice...

And then share it.

Finally, know this.

Whatever we give of ourselves, we more than get back, in return.

I promise.

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