Gateway Seven: Positive Action, Remember the Notion of a Good Deed
By Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein
We're all faced with bouts of discouragement, letdowns and disappointments, and for women, certainly the cycle of life itself has its ups and downs. Anyone fortunate enough to have longevity on her side will inevitably sustain losses and disappointments. None of the Gateways to Enchantment can totally prevent a person from the necessary bumps and grinds of life, but what they do provide are mechanisms not only with which to pick ourselves up heroically, but to strengthen ourselves and make the world a better place for us. One of the very best ways to do this is through positive action. I look at positive action in three ways.
For one thing, it's good practice to take positive action, whether it's about a personal issue in your own life, or to help others. This forces us to practice timeliness, good behaviors, and often good logic and decision-making.
Secondly, taking positive action can definitely help offset loneliness, let-down feelings, and feelings of discouragement. It does this by the act of pushing us into connecting with people, sharing with people and having the opportunity to experience the happiness shared by others when they are affected by something positive that we do. The cliché, A smile is more infectious than a frown, definitely holds true in this case.
Thirdly, doing positive action helps us to grow emotionally and spiritually. All the great religions of the world and the great thinkers encourage positive action and good deeds as a way of stretching our own capacities as human beings. These effects can be permanent. Think about Helen Keller, a woman who took the steps to positive action, to learn to speak and share her wisdom over a lifetime, even though she herself was profoundly deaf and blind. She not only created a much fuller life and a better world for herself, but she created hope and inspiration for those whom she touched. Even now, many years after her death, her courageous example sends out mentoring lessons of inspiration throughout the world.
Here is a true story about positive action. Ellen's girlfriend realized that there were many women in their town who really had need for charity and emergency funds. However, some of the women needed help immediately, and going through the process of receiving money from a charity would take long.
Ellen had a wonderful idea. Why not, together with all of her good friends, each put $25 into a "pot." With the start of $250 which she collected, she then gave a potluck dinner. All her friends came, ate a wonderfully shared meal, and then set about establishing a group which they called "Womenade."
Periodically, when they heard of a woman who needed help, they helped. They helped one woman buy a suit so she could go on job interviews and finish a job-training program. They helped another pay for extra day care during an illness. They helped others in small and not so small ways.
It was easy. When they started to run low on funds, they had another pot luck dinner together, laughed, shared their lives and their ups and downs, and put another $25 each into the pot.
A Positive Activity for You
In the best of all worlds, if you have your full resources, including health, money, time or whatever else you may need, brainstorm three positive actions that you can take. Whether it involves only you, or whether it would involve the entire world, go for it!
Sometimes this mental exercise is harder than one would think because we are so used to not stretching and just accommodating to our current status that we don't invest much energy into what we would do if we had unlimited resources. After you've done some brainstorming, think in terms of the resources of time, money and energy that you do have, and see if you can create one small step, one positive action, that will move you a little closer to your unlimited goodwill.
For example, if your brainstorming led you to cleaning up the world of all pollution, perhaps you can take one small step by writing a letter to your senator or congressman, suggesting that they fight for clean air standards. Or perhaps you could use your car a little less and walk a little more, or ride your bike. This would accomplish the extra bonus of good exercise, and make you feel better both physically and mentally.
It's fun to dream. Remember that every dream, with ingenuity and planning, may well become a reality. But in order to become that reality, many steps need to be taken. So take your first, today.
I wish you good luck and good times. Welcome to the Gateways of Enchantment!