CREATE MIRACLES: CLIFFS NOTES-STYLE
Don't wait for your "ship to come in," and feel angry and cheated when it doesn't. Get going with something small.-- Irene Kassorla, Go For It
Create a mini-miracle. Read that phrase again and write it down. It is the foundation of kindness, my motive for writing this book, and my reason for living. It is the easiest and most effective way to make a significant, lasting difference in the world.
When we say the word "miracle," our minds concoct intimidating scenarios: rescuing a classroom of children from a burning building, raising millions of dollars to find a cure for cancer, planting thousands of fruit-bearing trees in the desert to feed a starving tribe. And if you're like most people, you think being a miracle worker takes lots of time, lots of hard work, and possibly an act of God to be a one-person army, a life-saving, cure-finding, mentor-for-life saint.
The fact is, to create miracles and make a difference, all you have to do is devote fifteen minutes a day. In the same amount of time it takes to walk to the corner grocery store, you can change the world.
Change the World in Just Fifteen Minutes a Day?
If you're like me, you are always trying to find ways to save time by doing two errands at once or by taking advantage of services that perform time-consuming chores like laundry and grocery shopping. Just look at your appointment book or calendar. I bet your day is crammed with meetings, errands, and an indefinite number of tasks. Do you bring a laptop computer with you on the airplane so you can get some work done? Do you wonder how you've lived without a cellular phone? Or maybe you don't have time to wonder. Here's the point: There just don't seem to be enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you want to do. Time, if you really think about it, is your most precious commodity.
No matter how hectic our lives become, however, I believe that to be human is to want to contribute something positive to the world. Our capacity to be compassionate and help others is inborn. We want to help a sick child, clean up a littered park, raise money for a charitable cause we believe in. But with all of the chores and responsibilities we have, where can we possibly find time to do something positive for humanity and still maintain our busy lives?
Maybe at some moment in your life you "made the time." You fulfilled your need to give back to the world and volunteered, raised money for charity, or even got your hands and clothing dirty by planting trees in an inner-city garden. It felt great. Anyway, it was cheaper than paying $100 an hour to a therapist to tell you what you discovered for free: Being selfless made you a better person.
Then reality enters: family obligations, paperwork from the office, unpaid bills, perhaps a leaky roof. All of a sudden, your goal of recruiting one hundred people to participate in an AIDS walkathon fell off your list of priorities into a dark abyss, never to be seen or heard from again. "At least my intentions were good," you tell yourself.
Good intentions never get anything done. If I intended to wash the dishes one morning, and didn't, I'd still have a sinkful of dirty dishes. Taking responsibility and following through get the job done, not meaning well. The good news is that with technology making our lives quicker, easier, and more efficient, we can take a cue from the twenty-first century and make our philanthropic work quicker, easier, and more efficient as well.
In this book, you'll read the phrase "get the maximum amount done in the minimum amount of time." This is my work ethic. I do not believe in wasting time. And I certainly do not believe in achieving very little for a lot of hard work. That's what drove me to create fifteen-minute mini-miracles. Fifteen-minute miracles, or miracles Cliffs Notes-style, allow you to go beyond just being nice. They allow you to accomplish something concrete by helping someone in need or making your community a healthier place to live -- without sacrificing a lot of your own time. You can change the world by embracing the Ten Rules of Angel Power to get the maximum amount done in the minimum amount of time and by committing fifteen minutes every single day to contribute something worthy to humanity.
I admit that this sounds like one of those unfounded claims from an infomercial touting an "amazing, ingenious product." And, as with those commercial spots, the only way to find out if my claim is true is to try it out yourself. In this case, however, you don't have to send four payments of $19.95.
It goes beyond writing a check to a charity. A fifteen-minute mini-miracle super-charges the idea: For example, instead of just writing a check, you can write a check to charity and double the amount in fifteen minutes without actually having to give more from your own checking account. You can even raise $1,000 for your favorite charity in fifteen minutes flat.
Over the last nine years, I've tested, perfected, and practiced more than one hundred of these mini-miracles. I think they're amazing -- they've done so much to help others and improve my community, and they've made me a happier, better person, too.
Who or What Benefits?
By practicing fifteen-minute mini-miracles, you can
- help an elderly patient heal;
- help a child learn to read;
- donate $1,000 to charity without having to give a dime from your personal savings;
- save the life of a dying child;
- educate someone thousands of miles away during your lunch break;
- inspire a young woman to believe in herself.
Fifteen-minute mini-miracles are revolutionary. They're savvy and modern. They take full advantage of technology and the wealth of free information and resources available to us twenty-four hours a day, and turn our weaknesses into strengths -- or, as I like to say, lemons into lemonade.
Change Your Life
And, as they say in those infomercials, that's not all, folks. Not only can you make a difference in just minutes a day, you'll get an added bonus if you act right now: No, you won't get washboard abs, but your life will change.
When you give a few minutes of your life each day to changing the world, your heart and soul open up. You find personal fulfillment. You gain self-worth. You learn valuable lessons that will help you succeed in the workplace, with your family, and in your personal life. You become a compassionate person not because you aspire to be one, but because your natural capacity to be kind shines through. And you inspire those around you to make a difference, too.
You'll also discover that the more that you selflessly give, the better you'll feel about yourself and the world around you. The better you feel, the more you'll desire to change the world. The more you desire to change the world, the more tempting it will be to spend more than your daily fifteen minutes doing it. Pretty soon, devoting an entire weekend with your friends and family to building a Habitat for Humanity home won't sound time-consuming to you; it will be fun. After all, meaningful activities are what some of the best memories are made of.
Mini-miracles will make the world a better place, help those in need, and change your own life. This may sound like some new-agey idea to you, but I think there's nothing unusual about mixing the human need to make a difference with the time constraints and technology of the twenty-first century. Why shouldn't miracles evolve with the times?
At the end of each chapter in this book, you'll find ten proven fifteen-minute mini-miracles you can perform at the office, during your lunch hour, at home, on weekends, or right before you go to sleep. Take note of the mini-miracle ideas that interest you, and apply the inspiration and lessons you'll learn from the Ten Rules of Angel Power throughout the book. I guarantee that creating a daily mini-miracle will become a welcome and integral part of your life.
TEN MINI-MIRACLES YOU CAN DO TO CHANGE YOUR WORLD
1. Donate your airline frequent-flier miles to a children's organization that helps sick and dying kids. Miracle Flights for Kids will accept your frequent-flier miles and use them to fly sick children to treatment centers and hospitals around the country. Call (702) 261-0494 or log on to www.miracleflights.com to donate your miles.
You can also donate your Northwest Airlines and United Airlines miles to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Call United Mileage Plus Service Center at (800) 325-0041 or Northwest AirCares program at (800) 327-2881 to donate miles.
2. When children from the foster-family system are placed with a family, their clothing is usually transported in plastic trash bags. You can help by collecting used but good-condition suitcases from friends, family, and coworkers. Contact a local foster-family agency about donating luggage.
3. Here's a mini-miracle I do when I travel: I collect bottles of shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, and bars of soap from hotels. (I'll even ask the front desk to collect a substantial amount from the supply closet for me, too.) When I return home after a vacation or lecture tour, I'll donate them to a local shelter.
4. If you're approached by a homeless person for money, it's your call if you want to give or not to give. Just don't just ignore or brush him aside. According to several homeless advocacy organizations, by at least making eye contact, you not only acknowledge a homeless person's existence but you boost his self-esteem.
5. Put old and used cellular phones to work for the good of the community. Bell Atlantic Mobile will "recycle" your phones by reprogramming them to dial 911 at the touch of a button to help community safety patrols have direct access to police support. Call (914) 365-7535 or visit www.bam.com for more information.
6. Ever buy a stock on a "hot tip" only to watch it fizzle? Cut your losses, take a tax deduction, and support a worthy charity at the same time. The Nature Conservancy and Humane Society of the United States regard gifts of stocks and bonds as permanent investments in their critical work. You can donate to the Nature Conservancy by visiting www.tnc.org or to the Humane Society of the United States by calling (800) 808-7858.
7. Ready to embark on an adventure? Share the wonders of the world by participating in the Austin Center Post Card Project. Whether you're visiting towers of steel or meadows of green, let a group of men and women living with HIV and AIDS in the Washington, D.C., area hear about your adventures around the country or abroad. Send your postcards to: The Austin Center for Health and Living, Whitman Walker Clinic, 1407 S Street, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20009.
8. Did you know that children with music education perform better in math and develop better problem-solving skills than children without music education? It's true. If you've got a musical instrument lying around your house from your high school days, like a violin, trumpet, or clarinet, donate it to the music education department at a local school. They will put the instrument to good use.
9. If you have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, inform your local hospital that you're willing to drive nurses and doctors to the hospital during fierce wintry weather.
10. Donate used golf clubs to the Clubs for Kids program sponsored by the Professional Golfers Association of America (PGA). The clubs will be used to introduce young people to golf who otherwise would not be able to afford to play. Write to the PGA, Box 109601, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, 33410, for more information.
Copyright © 1999 by Danny Seo
15-Minute Miracles to Change the World
Heaven on Earth
15-Minute Miracles to Change the World
Danny Seo is the remarkable young entrepreneur of altruism, the twenty-one-year-old recently honored with the 1998 "Oprah's Angel Network Award." Now he offers inspiration and practical advice for anyone who wants to join him in finding personal fulfillment -- while having fun and meeting wonderful people -- by committing oneself to making a positive difference in the lives of others.
By focusing on activities that we can tackle after work, on weekends, or in just fifteen minutes a day, Heaven On Earth is a blueprint that people with various talents and backgrounds can follow to benefit their communities in the greatest way possible. At the heart of Seo's approach are his 10 Rules of Angel Power. Among them are:
- One plus one equals three. A pool of talents can add up to an ocean of good.
- Double your pleasure, double your funds. The most effective ways of raising money are usually the most creative ways -- and the most fun.
- U.B.U. (You Be You). If your instincts tell you that a particular project or idea is wrong for you, go with your gut and search out something more inspiring. Everyone will benefit.
The record of philanthropic achievement that has earned Seo such recognition began when he served as the CEO of Earth 2000 National. At the age of twelve, Seo transformed his neighborhood club into an energized 25,000-member corporation, leading dynamic campaigns for the protection of biodiversity and animals.
Danny Seo is an extraordinary young man, but the irony is that just about all of his achievements, taken individually, are within our power to accomplish, too. Heaven On Earth is a motivational book that enables us to feel good about ourselves by encouraging us to do good for others.