9 Ways You Can Make a Difference—Even if You’re a Selfish Bastard Like Me

141928597962243-w650With Christmas barreling down on us like an out-of-control freight train manned by a couple of insane little elves hopped up on energy drinks, ephedrine, and PCP, I figured it would be a good time to do a post about making a difference in the world.

Now, I’m just going to throw this out there…

I’m selfish. Have been my whole life.

I remember in the 6th grade my football team won first place and we all went to Round Table Pizza to celebrate. Everyone on the team got two slices of pizza. However, I noticed that there was one slice left in the pan, so I gulped my two pieces down like a stray dog—not enjoying even one single bite—just so I could claim rights to that final piece and get three pieces of pizza instead of just two like the rest of my teammates.

Doesn’t matter what it is, I always seem to want more.

I also think about myself constantly—my goals, fears, image, what I gotta do today, what agitates me, what makes me happy, what I want to avoid and achieve. Me, me, me.

Now, it’s no secret that only thinking about oneself is a surefire path to misery. No matter how good you look, how much money you make, how big your house is, how much awesome stuff you do or own, or how much sex you have, without some kind of selfless contribution to the world, it just doesn’t seem to be enough.

Screen Shot 2013-12-10 at 4.54.09 PM-w800-h600There’s never enough.

Most of us play movies in our head all day where we’re trying to figure out how we can get a bigger pile of gold and a smaller pile of shit.

The pile of gold is what we want: money, recognition, admiration, sex, approval, success, food, comfort, etc.

And the pile of shit is what we don’t want: pain, embarrassment, fear, poverty, loneliness, drama, crisis, and lack of this, that, and the other thing. (OK, some people actually DO want the drama, but that’s a post for another day.)

Fortunately, there’s a quick and easy way out of this continual mental loop. It’s by thinking about other people and doing something to help ’em from the raw goodness of our hearts.

Now, sure, you can make a contribution through your career, or through books or info-products you release, or through paid seminars or mastermind events you put on, and that can all be very fulfilling. But without some form of selfless giving—meaning doing something without compensation, recognition, or an angle—I don’t think life can be lived at 100%.

And sure, it is a bit of a paradox to selflessly give, knowing that doing it will make you happier, which in turn, on paper, does appear to cancel out the selfless part. However, if your heart’s in the right place, there’s no need to worry about this little paradox.

Giving because you want to be happier is not selfish. It’s wise.

Everything in life seems to work in a circle, including the earth, the sun, the moon, and their constant rotation.

The classic model of the myth, known as the Hero’s Journey, is a circle. You (the hero) start out on an adventure seeking something, you come up against trials and tribulations (getting your ass kicked and doing some conquering of your own), you go into the belly of the beast, have a sort of rebirth—realizing that the thing you were after may not be the thing you really needed—and in doing so have a transformation. You then return home bringing the booty, or message of change, with you. I may have screwed up the steps a little, but that’s the basic idea. And as you can see, it’s a circle—the circle of life.

That’s which comes from nothing returns to nothing.

141928624936738-w650That which you do over here—either good or bad—comes back to you over there.

Call if karma, Do Unto Others, or whatever the hell works for you.

Life isn’t linear, it’s circular. And if you’re helping others, life will in return help you. Just like the late Zig Ziglar said, “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”

And just look at 12-step programs. They’ve helped millions of hopeless drug addicts and alcoholics turn their lives around, and one of the main principles they’re based on is service—helping others.

Now, being the selfish guy I am, that shit just doesn’t come natural to me. For some people it does, and God bless ’em. But for me, it seems counter-intuitive, even though we’ve all been taught this since we we’re knee high.

For some reason, the message just didn’t stick with me. The me, me, me setting in my psyche is always set on overdrive. Take what you want, make shit happen, in it for #1, conquer the earth and don’t look fucking back, ya know.

141928624936738-w650Well, I don’t know about you, but that frame of mind—although natural to me—has really given my happiness a solid beating.

Fortunately, though, I’m learning. I’m still selfish. But I do work at this giving stuff. And the key is to not think about it, but just do it.

We all know we should give, but in reality a lot of us don’t.

So, if you’re a selfish bastard like me, here’s a list of 9 things you can do to give back, serve others, and make a difference in the world…

Now, I’ll admit, some of these aren’t 100% altruistic. A few of ’em WILL get you some recognition, and doing ’em WILL make you happier, which, like I said, is totally fine.

As long as your heart’s in the right place, and you’re thinking more about the difference you can make or the person or people you can help than you are about yourself and what you can get out of it, the impact will be profound and your time and/or resources will be well spent.

1. Each day, text, call, or email a different person you know and tell ’em…

…how proud of them you are, or tell ’em about something they do or some part of who they are that you admire, or tell them how much their friendship means to you, or how much they’ve inspired you. Or, if they’re going through a hard time, maybe just listen to ’em and toss ’em some encouraging words.

This takes only a few minutes a day and can make a profound impact on both your life and theirs.

2. Compliment someone who normally doesn’t get compliments.

Compliment an elderly woman on her hair or purse or clothes. Just make sure it’s genuine.

Compliment an obese guy on his powerful presence, or sense of humor, or whatever it is that you honestly admire about him. Don’t let his weight block your view of seeing some of the awesomeness that lies underneath.

Just don’t go around complimenting a bunch of hotties on their looks and think that you’re giving. They get that shit all the time, you probably have an angle, and if you DO have an angle then compliments aren’t always the best way to go, unless it’s on something they normally wouldn’t get complimented on. But what the hell do I know.

Genuinely compliment people, and have zero angle when you do so. THAT’S the key.

Takes about 10 seconds.

66E0E3B2-A639-49A0-BC28-B08827B676713. Do some pro bono work.

If you’re a personal trainer, tattoo artist, a doctor, lawyer, coach, consultant, handyman, or…whatever you are…help a few people out without charging them or asking anything in return.

Who knows, you may even get some referrals from it. Life has a strange way of paying this kind of work back. Just don’t do it on the condition of getting referrals. Do it for free and for fun. Do it to HELP someone.

4. When you see a homeless guy, hook him up with a few bucks, EVEN THOUGH he MAY use it for booze or heroin…

But if he’s addicted to it, that booze or heroin will probably make his day so much better. Without it he’s going to suffer like crazy. A little bit of his medicine can stop the relentless screaming that’s going on in his head.

Of course buying him a meal is always a good way to go to. Anything you can do to make his day better is a good thing.

And remember, it’s not your business what he does with the money, only that you give it to him. What he does with with the money is his business. You giving it to him is your business.

5. If you get good service somewhere, don’t just tip well—which you obviously should do—but also…

…tell the manager what a great job your server did of taking care of you.

Takes like 2 minutes tops.

F91E5203-EA72-4378-A898-565A827400E76. Give props to someone publicly on Facebook, social media, or in a blog post.

ALSO takes like 2 minutes tops.

7. Give to a good cause—even if it’s just a few bucks or a few hours here and there.

Buy toys for children who need ’em.

Donate to a charity. There are a tons of great ones out there.

Two of my favorites are…

Holiday Heroes—they feed hungry families in Bulgaria over the holidays and hook children up with awesome toys—these are kids who would otherwise go without gifts.

And the International Justice Mission. They fight violence, slavery, and sex trafficking throughout Africa, Latin America, and South and Southeast Asia.

There are so many awesome charities out there it’s ridiculous. Find something that touches your heart and help out, even if it’s just a few bucks.

You can also spend a few hours volunteering.

Or…if you’re in a 12-step program, take some commitments at meetings and, after you’ve done the steps, sponsor some other folks and take them through the steps—ya know, those steps that saved your life.

You don’t have to devote your entire life to a cause if you don’t want to. A few bucks or a few hours can go a long way.

talking-w800-h6008. Listen.

When other people talk, be present for ’em and listen more than you talk. Don’t obsess about what you’re gonna say next—which I know can be tough.

Don’t think about what you’re gonna do later tonight, the advice you wanna give ’em, or some other shit.

Just listen. And it takes so little effort that even the laziest person in the world can do it.

9. Create blog posts, email newsletters, social media posts, or YouTube videos that help other people.

And sure, I realize that creating this kind of free content ain’t 100% selfless because it does get you some recognition, and it may positively affect on your income if you happen to make money from a business that is tied to your blog, email list, social media following, or YouTube channel.

However, it’s still a great thing to do because your words can help people in all corners of the world—people who you’ll probably never meet or even know that you helped. That shit right there gives me the warm fuzzies. BOOM!

141928624936738-w650There are damn near infinite ways to help other people, serve your fellow man, and make a positive impact on the world.

And when you think about it, it’s mostly just about being a cool person. Not Fonzie cool, or rollin’ deep cool, or sleeve tattoo cool. Those things are all fine. But I’m talking about being a genuinely cool person. Authentically cool.

In my personal opinion, the most powerful approach is when the work you do is something that makes the world a better place, and you can have fun making a good living at it, but then you also do service work that you DON’T get paid for. That’s the stuff that can put a nice fat cherry on the crazy sundae of your life.

Now go out there and give!

I’d love to hear your comments below about some ways that you’ve found to be of service, even if you’re a selfish bastard like me.

I hope you enjoyed this post and I’ll talk to you soon,

Big Chris

P.S. Oh, and if you like this post, then please click some of these social media button thingys…

Written by Chris McCombs

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Comments

  1. Adventuregirl says:

    Love this! Especially #4. I’ve heard people say “Well, those people probably aren’t really homeless” But hey, even if they’re not, sometimes people just need to know there’s someone out there who would help them if they WERE homeless.

  2. Big Chris: You’re making a difference with every blog post! Thanks for the reminder of the simple things we can do – and the benefits that come back, just might surprise you. It feels amazing when you do something (no matter how small) for someone for no reason. It can be addicting in the greatest of ways.

    Thanks again for keepin it real.

    Lisa

  3. Awesome, Chris! Thanks for reminding me that it’s all about giving this time of year.

  4. George Wright says:

    While i’m not a church goer I do have a profound spiritual belief system. Every year at christmas time I have my kids at the local church pick a name from the christmas tree for the local orphanage and we buy PJ’s, robes and slippers for them. Everybody wins, me, my kids and the local orphans.

  5. handsome ali says:

    Thank you. U r doing awesome work.

  6. craig sangster says:

    Superb post as always Chris! so easy to get caught up in the craziness of life that we forget about the simple value of just a few seconds or a few minutes spent putting someone else in the spotlight. Another personal touch I have done from time to time is when I stop in a convenience store for a coffee or snack there will always be someone outside near the store that is obviously in need, I have picked up a bottle of water, a sandwich and some fruit and hand it to them as I walk out the door.

  7. Hey Chris! Great tips and food for thought! Being selfish is a servival instinct and reasonably a good thing to have. Expressing emotions and giving is not something that is natural comming to me, but I learn.
    Yesterday me and my partner bought food for people in need and delivered it in a food bank. It is important to remember about people who is worse than you are.
    Am I pround of it? Yes.
    Got little presents and cards to my work collegues. Didn’t expect anything in return, just thought would be nice to do something different.

  8. Thanks Chris! You hit the nail right on the head with this post!

  9. Thank you for this Chris. I may print this and hang it on my refigerator. I’m just like you. I’ve been self absorbed and selfish my whole life. The last couple years I’ve been learning how to put others first, be more giving, and not take things for granted. I’ve learned my lessons the hard way; I’ve lost a marriage and beautiful family, among other things, because of my selfishness. But, every day is a new day, and the past is the past, all we can do is keep learning and moving forward.

  10. Growing up and hearing horror stories from people in just about every job made me think. And knowing that you, in your own job, have times where if someone would just help you out that little bit it would make your day. Well, no matter where I am I have made it a solid habit to leave it better than I found it. Public restrooms: I will never leave without wiping down the sink and/or mirror and picking up the paper towels that which are lazily tossed in the direction of the trash can. Yes, people get paid to do those things, but, what do you get paid to do? Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone made your work just a bit easier. Walking into a mess is intimidating but walking in and seeing that someone has given you a hand, I would imagine, will shoulder some of the load. I apply this to every situation in life, and in order to leave people better off after meeting them, you give genuine compliments, a shoulder to lean on, a few bucks when it counts, some helpful advice, and so much more.

  11. Chris McCombs Chris McCombs says:

    Jim, you have it nailed. LOVE how you’re going about this aspect of your life. LOVE IT

  12. Ooooo-weeeee!! I’ve missed you Big Chris! Thanks for this. I’m right there with you. Gonna try and make someone’s life a little easier today, and in doing so, make mine a little lighter.

  13. Chris McCombs Chris McCombs says:

    THANK YOU Angie, it feels good to be missed (=

  14. Advocatus Diaboli says:

    Chris, I am going to call you out on 3 & 9: how ’bout giving us new posts more often, not just once in a blue moon? That’s a win-win, we get more posts, you get to be less selfish. 😉

  15. nice post, Chris, especially when reading it on Christmas time
    greetings from Poland

  16. Chris McCombs Chris McCombs says:

    Holy shit! This is sooo inspiring. Thanks for sharing EdP. You’re a true warrior (=

  17. Hey Chris,
    Good to see you back writing again! I am a HUGE believer in giving unconditionally and have always felt my best when I am doing it. I have a soft spot for the homeless and try to give whenever I can. I’ve always hated hearing “he’ll just use it for booze” and I always say the same thing “who cares, his life is worse than ours so anything I can do to make it better, I will”.

    Stay up bro.

  18. Great Article,

    I have always wondered why not many bloggers talk about giving to the world without getting anything in return, since it is hella important for a man’s character.

    Thanks,
    John Deus

  19. Paul Nash says:

    Inspiring article Chris – thank you, we do, all to often, forget to do these things in our busy lives and it is nice to be reminded to ‘pay it forward’ so to speak – something I shall endeavour to do more of! – great stuff thanks again!

  20. Mike63Denver says:

    I was always a loser so I was always trying to win. After reading your inspirational post I decided to let other people win by giving them what they want. I can admire their proficiency, appreciate their effort, respect their decisions, and praise their performance.

  21. Great post Chris! I definitely think it’s a great idea to give yourself permission to make a difference. So many of us are taught that when you give something away it subtracts from what you have…. and as you know, that sh!t ain’t the truth. The truth is that when you give something away…. it multiplies what you are/have because when you give something to someone else you’re really giving it to yourself, yet in a different form.

  22. Another excellent post Chris and damn on point!

    One quick story, my dad used to have a large wholesale company. Every Christmas we did the party thing and drew names and bought gifts for each other. Ties we wouldn’t wear (well, I don’t wear ties PERIOD), cheap aftershave, etc.

    Then we decided to take the money we spent on these shitty gifts and adopt a family one Christmas. Bought the family food, clothes, toys for the kids, everything.

    Three things happened here:

    1-Where before everyone might spend 10 bucks on a gift for coworker, suddenly we were pitching $100 bucks or more into the pot (this was in the early 70s, $100 was a big deal then).

    2-When we delivered the gifts to the family, the joy on their faces was amazing. I didn’t make any difference why they were in their situation, it was that, for maybe only a day or two, they knew someone cared for them. Complete strangers who shelled out a few bucks for a family they didn’t know.

    3-Holy shit did this grow! In a space of maybe 5 years we went from 1 family to 7 or 8. We picked them up and brought them to the company and laid out a huge Christmas dinner. Other companies got involved. Stored donated things to our efforts.

    And one final thing. When I decided to do the paramedic thing, we started doing the same thing there. One of our crews had run on a near drowning on a kid. He ended up with brain damage and the family caring for him totally. The financial impact on the family was huge and they had little money before the accident.

    Christmas eve we went out to their house in our Mass Casualty Unit (big truck to carry multiple patients) and it was packed with gifts. We “invaded” their house with everything from gifts to a Christmas tree with decorations.

    These things meant more to us than any gift that anyone could have given us.

    What you give may, or may not come back to you. But the joy of giving is what you give to yourself.

  23. Maureen says:

    I’m a selfish asshole. Always have been, and I’m terrified that I always will be – which relates to other points you’ve made. I just have this “fuck you” attitude when it comes to be being what everyone wants me to be. I can’t live up to my own expectations, how can I live up to theirs? I’m hurting the people around me, and I feel even shittier for that. They got stuck with me and I’m fucking ruining their lives because I’m a selfish asshole. I would be better by myself, so the only person I hurt is myself. I give to causes, I always try to be there for a friend in need (those I still have), but I’m doomed to be miserable because I have this bullshit attitude that if everyone wants me to be happy, then I’m gonna spite them all. :/

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