Find Your Own Path

The routines for acquiring spiritual balance are different for each individual. For some, spending weekends at the beach or up in the mountains, where they can clear their mind and take in nature, helps them balance themselves spiritually. For others, doing volunteer work brings peace of mind.

Perhaps devoting time to a favorite charity could help you step outside your own drama, do something good for someone else, and help you acquire spiritual balance. Learning how to be more grateful, and showing your gratitude often to many people, can bring a centeredness and calmness to your being, which brings about peace of mind and spirituality.

For me, my sense of spirituality has a direct relationship with the good I do in the world. And when I say good, I'm not just referring to volunteerism. Although there are many causes and charities that tug at my heartstrings, I m never able to devote the amount of time to those charities that I would like. I used to think, Oh, I'll feed the hungry two weeks from Thursday, from five till seven. Yeah, right. That rarely happened, and as long as my sense of purpose and spirituality was linked to the number of hours I devoted to volunteerism, I never felt spiritual.

Here's how I changed both my thinking and my actions: I realized that I can do volunteer work all day, every day. What do I mean by that? Let me give you some examples.

I'm not required to smile at every person I meet; I'm not paid to do that. So if I choose to do it, it's on a volunteer basis and therefore I m giving something that I'm not required to give and that makes me feel good about myself. I'm not required to notice and hug the student in my school who's experiencing loneliness or some type of struggle, so if I do hug that student, it's on a volunteer basis. It's that simple.

As for raising money, I don't always have to wait for a charitable fundraising event. As a business owner, I can offer the products and services of my business to support, serve, and give back to people in my community on a daily basis. On a typical day, if a hundred clients come in, perhaps two of them will receive something extra, or they won't pay at all. I can volunteer to make those kinds of decisions, so why not?

If you're not a business owner, that doesn't mean you can't use your place of employment as a vehicle to make a difference in your community. Making a difference isn't always about donating time or money to a cause. If you're a waiter or waitress, your smiles, kind words, and calling total strangers darling can make a difference and heal someone in need, whether you realize it or not. I can count numerous times when a waitress was my angel of mercy, so to speak, on a particular day when I needed a little boost. If you're a grocery bagger or checkout clerk, you have the opportunity every single day to tell hundreds of people to have a good day, and to truly mean it.

Best-selling author and lecturer Marianne Williamson used to say that every business is a front for a church, but I don't think she was referring to a place of worship or a religion. What I translated that to mean for me is that every business whether it be a pizza parlor, an accounting firm, a hospital, or a beauty salon can be a place where both customers and employees feel accepted, loved, cared for, and safe.

People in need are not just those who line up at a soup kitchen. There are people all around you who suffer spiritually, mentally, emotionally, health wise, financially, and in so many other ways. They could be people you work with every day, and you just don't know it. They could be members of your own family, your neighbors, or people in your religious congregation.

It's so worthwhile to note that the spiritual gifts you offer are not only for the benefit of the receiver. You can be generous and giving out of your own self-interests. Your own spirit and soul need continual nourishing, and you do that by giving of yourself. As Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress, said, Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth.

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About The Author / Credits: Winn Claybaugh is the author of Be Nice (Or Else!), with foreword by CNN's Larry King. Winn is the founder of Paul Mitchell The School, with several locations throughout the U.S. He is the National Motivational Expert for Paul Mitchell and has worked with thousands of businesses, including companies such as Vidal Sassoon, the Irvine Company, Entertainment Tonight, Mattel, For Rent magazine, Structure/Limited Express, and others. Winn has served as vice president of the AIDS Relief Fund for Beauty Professionals, and he continues to pursue many fundraising projects. Sign up for Winn's free motivational monthly newsletter at www.beniceorelse.com/newsletter. For informative articles and resources visit www.beniceorelse.com.

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