“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Have you ever thought about what it means to be a contributor? Or wondered about that old saw about how you have to give before you can receive? Do you consider yourself to be a ‘contributing member’ of society?
Some people think that contribution is all about giving money to charity, donating to a good cause, or taking part in philanthropy. That the only way to contribute is to build up enough personal wealth or resources to one day have some excess to give away.
Sort of like the idea that sacrificing everything for your career will somehow lead to bliss later on, all too often folks reach the end of the rainbow only to find they lack the vitality to have fun when the time comes. Work now, play later. Save now, give later. It’s a zero-sum mindset that leads to perpetual lack.
But really, contribution has nothing to do with money, finances, or the state of your bank account. Real contribution has everything to do with leverage, and the ability to see opportunities to make a difference. It’s about developing a frame of mind that lives in the moment and knows that giving takes many forms. And you never need to deplete yourself to make a difference, in fact, when properly channeled, giving is an act of generation for your own life force.
So if you just learn to see where a clever use of your energy can create the most outsized impact, you’ll hold the key to transforming not only your own life, but the lives of those around you as well. I believe that if more people embody the principles of what I call ‘contributor culture’ the world can only become a better place.
The reason this is on my mind this week is because I’ve been invited to give a motivational speech to a group of international students at a San Francisco prep school. Whenever I’m talking to folks in this age group, I feel like it’s valuable to discuss the difference between contribution and entitlement.
For me, it wasn’t until I had the chance to get involved with something I was passionate about and volunteer my efforts without any attachment to pay that I learned the value of work. Up until my mid-20s I was a textbook example of an entitled youth. All my energy was focused on avoiding work and getting by with the least effort possible.
Then I found the ‘performance art’ group Survival Research Laboratories and decided that building robots and blowing stuff up was more fun than doing music, so I joined Mark Pauline’s team and learned how much fun it was to work 16 hour days in service of cultural satire and fleeting glory.
My ability to get things done and help other volunteers complete projects was well received, so for five solid years I did nothing but grind, weld, and build, trading in my bad habits for a newly found work ethic.
Looking back years later, it was my willingness to dive in and contribute my elbow grease that changed my life. Had I kept waiting around for a situation to find me I might have never gotten out of the rut that was taking me nowhere.
So now when I talk about contribution, and the idea of contributor culture, especially to younger folks or people trying to raise themselves up out of a bad situation, my advice is to not wait around. Get out there and look for someone or some organization that is doing something you admire and offer to help.
And in your day-to-day life, look for ways to lift the spirits of everyone you encounter. Smiling at a stranger is a contribution. Remembering someones name is a contribution. Opening a door for someone is a contribution. Yielding at an intersection is a contribution. There’s an opportunity to contribute and raise consciousness everywhere you go.
Giving opens doors, and creates a cosmic feedback loop of positivity in the universe. If I can help you or some high school kids understand this then I’m doing my part to create contributor culture. Thanks for reading, and making the most of this dance of life!
With love till next week!
Dance First Member Spotlight – Megha Nancy Buttenheim & Let Your Yoga Dance !!!
This week’s Dance First member shout out goes to Megha Nancy Buttenheim, one of our earliest fans in the Conscious Dancer world.
Nancy keeps a full roster of teaching and training programs in her signature Let Your Yoga Dance :: Grace in Motion modality. She’s also one of Kripalu’s most well-loved facilitators, offering a variety of yoga and meditation workshops and retreats.
She’s an innovator in working with special populations, with programs for teens and youth as well as the alter-abled, elderly, convalescents, or people living with MS or Parkinson’s.
Let Your Yoga Dance is “where joy and fun meet the deep and sacred” and you can get better acquainted with her work by getting your hands on a copy of her new book on Let Your Yoga Dance called “Expanding Joy – Embodying Positive Psychology.” Her chakra-based movement map is universally applicable and a valuable addition to any somatic leaders toolbox.
I’m happy to recommend Megha and her work to our community, and invite you to check out her website and get on her mailing list to learn more and keep up with her travels.
Thanks so much Megha! We’re happy to be in service to leaders like you who are carrying the torch for somatic movement and conscious Dance!
Let Your Yoga Dance – Expanding Joy :: Embodying Positive Psychology
Oct 7, House of Wellness — Hampton Bays, NY
Introduction to Yoga and Meditation with Megha at Kripalu Center
Oct 13-15, Kripalu Center – Stockbridge, MA
Let Your Yoga Dance Teacher Training :: Chakra Fusion, Module 2
Nov 12-17, Kripalu Center – Stockbridge, MA
Expanding Joy into the New Year in Miami
Jan 26-27, Inhale – Miami, FL