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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Good Start

No, I'm not talking about 1,000 lawyers at the bottom of the ocean. I'm talking about this story that showed up in Yahoo! News today: http://bit.ly/9WUGen
McKinney man out to change world, $1 at a time

I applaud him, and think more people should be doing things like this. However, $1 doesn't really go very far these days. It doesn't even buy a pack of gum, a cup of coffee, or a discount burger. It DOES buy air to put in your tires, but only if you have the right coins.

Instead, I propose we each earmark $20.00 to send out into the world to do some real good. I have had my "Magic 20" in my wallet for many years now. I give it away from time to time, and then I replace it. I tuck it away in a pocket of my wallet where I'm not tempted to spend it.

Twenty bucks is a good sum to give someone. It can buy:
  • A complete meal, and a healthy one at that!
  • Enough gas to get you somewhere
  • A shirt or pair of socks
  • A book that can change your life
  • Enough groceries for a couple of days if you shop smart
  • A movie -- a brief respite of entertainment to help you forget your troubles
Twenty dollars is a chunk of money, albeit a small one, that makes a difference. $1 is nice, but it's merely a gesture. $20 is a broader gesture that affirms to the recipient that you really want to help. It also reminds you that you've got the resources to give $20 away without it hurting you.

And you know what? If that happens to be your LAST $20, and it DOES hurt you to give it away, I can promise you that it's like priming the pump -- much more will come back to you in ways you never imagined. Maybe not instantly, but definitely when you need it.

I know, because it happened to me.

Many years ago, when my children were small and I was a poverty-stricken single parent trying to go to school, work, and take care of my children at the same time, I once gave my last $20 to someone. Someone who needed it more than I did at the time.

Since then, sums of money have "magically" turned up in my life when I least expected it, but usually when I really NEEDED it. Often a lot more than $20.

My children have seen me give away $20 on a number of occasions. In return, I have seen them become generous men who give away money, goods, and their time to others as well. That's one heck of a payoff for a small investment of $20!

One time when I gave away my $20 bill, it was at a gas station. The woman in the car in front of me had put $5 of gas in her car because she was broke and just needed to get home. Then she realized she didn't even have that much. I handed her the $20 and she said, "I'll be right back with your change." "No," I said, "Just keep it, and pass it on when you can."

When you give someone $20, it's significant. $100 is overkill, but twenty is a nice little figure that really works. Never underestimate the power of handing someone $20, no strings attached other than "pass it on when you can". I like to think that one small moment of connection between two people bears fruit in ways we cannot imagine. Think of a stone dropped into a calm pond, and the many ripples that spread outward from that one small act.

$1 is nice, and as a gesture it works. The story about Doc Compton says that it's brought tears to people's eyes when they're handed the dollar.

But think of how much more impact you'd have with $20. Take that $100 you want to give away, and bless the lives of FIVE people with a sum of money that each of them can actually use.

Or just take one $20 bill and set it aside for a time when you see a need you can fill. For even more fun, resolve to get that Magic 20 out of your hands today, as soon as possible, whether you see a need or not. We often don't see the hidden needs that people have.

Dr. Wayne Dyer has pointed out that when you do an act of kindness, research has shown that the recipient gets a "feel good" boost, but you get one as well. Not only that, but the research also shows that anyone observing that act of kindness (or being told about it afterward) gets a burst of endorphins too!

$20 is a very small price to pay to affect someone's life. Get a $20 bill right now, and PASS IT ON.

You will never regret it. And you will have done something that really DOES make a difference.


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