Should You Give To Charity?

Charity Work

The topic of charity has become a surprisingly controversial issue over the years. Where once it was considered inherently good to give money to a cause, the concept of charity has now become loaded with caveats and provisos. Charitable donations now are something of a moral minefield, with people feeling that they have to do extensive research before writing the cheque or making the bank transfer. In some respects this is perfectly understandable. With just about any initiative formed on good intentions, there are loopholes through which those good intentions can be abused. Some people have taken this as a basis on which to decry all charity, which is perhaps the saddest thing of all.

It is easy to become cynical when you see the inherently decent concept of charity being abused. But it should be avoided – all too many people think now that by giving money to help a cause you are inevitably giving money to the lazy or the immoral. Some people have just been cursed with bad luck. Are we to consider that the homeless, the starving and even the long-term ill are malingerers whose only real problem is that they can’t pull themselves together, put on their best suit and go out and find a job? It would be a very regrettable situation if this mindset were to win out. Sure, it is worth putting a bit of thought into which charity you help out – but using the “bad” ones as a reason to doubt all charities is something to avoid.

There is another way that you can help out a charitable cause without needing to worry about handing money directly to a faceless corporation who will put it in the bank and “forget” to hand it over, or that it will end up being swallowed by administrative costs. You can refrain from donating money, or donate a smaller amount but add to it with your time.

Time and labour are often the areas where most charities find their biggest challenges. “No-one wants to give their time for free” is a common complaint. If however you are looking for a worthwhile way to use your time, charitable work can be a very rewarding way to achieve this. It may just be packaging up donations of clothes and food for delivery to needy causes. It may be taking boxes in your car to drive to a refuge for people who have been beset by the problems of a broken home, violence or any other difficulty. But by doing this you also get to see that your work and your time are not wasted.

Cynicism is natural, if not desirable. Skepticism is, to some extent, to be encouraged – it is what allows us to distinguish good causes from bad ones. But doing work for charity can allow you to see just what good work some charities are still doing – and at the same time learn a little bit about yourself as a person. It also allows you the chance to meet some very interesting, very driven people. It’s clear how charity helps the needy, but it can help anyone who gives it a chance.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on July 3, 2009.

How To Change Without Making A Jump Into The Unknown

Let’s Go Retro!

A lot of us tend to find life unnecessarily trying from time to time, and this is due in no small part to the repetition of it all. It is a regular complaint from people in various jobs or other situations that they find each day runs into the next, with no variety to break it all up. It feels like Groundhog Day to many of us, as we wish we could just break the cycle a little bit and do something different. Of course, just as many of us have a bad feeling about changing too radically – what if we don’t like the change, it’s too difficult to change back or it’s so costly to make the initial change that we leave ourselves out of pocket for what turns out to be no real reason?

Well, there is another way to change things, a way that doesn’t leave you high and dry from a financial point of view and which you can feel confident about enjoying. It is called “turning back the clock” by more than a few, and various other names by various people what it amounts to is doing the things you always used to enjoy, without entertaining the boring and inaccurate state of mind that says it is uncool to do such things. Think about it – you always used to enjoy something, before life got in the way and stopped you. Now that things have settled and you need something to give your days a bit of a shake-up, what better way of doing that than rediscovering something you’ve always loved?

It doesn’t much matter what it is. If the thing you always used to love doing was a physical exertion like a sport or dancing, you may find that you have got out of condition for it in the meantime. Whether this is enough to persuade you to give up on it is up to you, but you could find that the journey of getting back to where you used to be is as much fun as the feeling of actually being at that point. Maybe it is something like old-school video games. A lot of people say that video games are for kids, but most of those people have either never played one, or last played one when they themselves were kids – and things change a lot in the world of video games, sometimes very quickly.

The key point here is that there are many things which we give up before we really want to – sometimes because we genuinely have to and sometimes because we feel we must. Re-evaluating at some point along the way means that we can look at bringing these things back into our everyday lives, or as a weekly treat. It is a way of changing things up without having to make a jump into the unknown, and allowing ourselves to enjoy a pursuit that we already know how to do. As a side benefit, doing things you used to enjoy can make you feel younger, and we could all do with that from time to time.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on June 20, 2009.

Are Book Readers Becoming Extinct?

Reading for enjoyment

Many of us, in everyday life, spend a hefty proportion of our time reading. The reasons for this reading will vary from person to person. Mostly, though, it will either be for the purposes of keeping up with the news, or for work purposes. This is a perfectly good reason for reading, of course. There is, however, some sense of injustice in the fact that merely living is taking the element of fun out of something that we used to do almost entirely for pleasure. Reading a book just because we want to do so, as a simple pleasure, is something that disappointingly few of us are doing. There are numerous reasons for this, and they say a lot about how the meaner side of human nature has taken hold among many of us.

There is a sense among a sadly growing number of people that reading is simply something for the college kids and the wannabe intellectuals. Who reads for pleasure these days, people will seriously ask, when we have DVDs, cinemas and the TV for our entertainment? There is even an element of distrust shown towards those of us who like to read. It is a massive shame, but it seems that there is a tendency to dumb things down and to actually wear ignorance as a badge of honour. Just to clarify things, there is nothing shameful about cracking a book every once in a while and reading for fun. Don’t be concerned about people looking at you in a slightly dimmer way just because you enjoy the written word. It is something that gives life a bit of flavour. A good book can take you outside the confines of the everyday and turn free time into dream time.

Now, this is not an order to go out and read the classics. If you don’t like Shakespeare you don’t have to read him. If Dickens doesn’t do anything for you, don’t buy his books. It really isn’t about who you read, or even what you read. It’s about why. And the fact is that sometimes reading for pleasure can make a real difference. It relaxes you physically while at the same time exercising your mind. Even a fairly simple and pedestrian novel that won’t win any awards will keep your brain functioning at a higher level, exercise that it needs in order to keep operating at the level you are used to.

So, if you have a favourite childhood book that always used to make you laugh or smile, why not pick that up once more? If a friend is reading something that they deem excellent, ask if you can borrow it when they’ve finished with it. Reading just for the sake of pleasure is something that makes us richer as a people, and something that should survive the prospect of being sneered at. It really is good fun, and we should see it as such. Find a new favourite author and read as many books as you can find, and before too long you’ll be reading a couple of books a week!

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on June 14, 2009.

Why You Are So Tired?

Are You Getting Enough Sleep?

Most of us will, at least once a day if not more often, feel a little bit short of energy and experience a desire to stop whatever we are doing and go chill out for a spell. Excessive tiredness is a surprisingly common complaint, and it affects people in all manner of jobs from the highly physical to the mainly sedentary. How often will you hear someone say “I really don’t know why I am so tired – I’ve not even done much today!”?

The reason that people find themselves wondering just that is that they have, as often as not, got too little sleep. In today’s society, the work-life balance tends to be weighted firmly in favour of work – and that leaves many of us fighting to get through the week. “That Friday Feeling” may be about partying for some people, but for many of us it is more about feeling blessed relief that we can crawl under the duvet for a spell.

For many of us, work commitments mean getting out of bed at any time from 5am onwards. To get the eight hours of sleep that the average human being needs, this would necessitate going to bed at some time prior to 9pm. If you have got back from the office at any point after five or six o’clock, that leaves you with a very short window in which to get something to eat, chat with family or friends, and get ready for bed. Although that sounds monstrous, it doesn’t always happen that way, as we often rebel against our body clock and stay up a few more hours to watch TV or whatever else we like to do.

The problem with doing that is that we are simply saving up a “sleep debt” for ourselves, which our body will be looking to cash in at some point. For those of us who have weekends off, this means that as often as not we will spend the mornings of Saturday and Sunday catching up on missed sleep. So much for any plans we had to get things done around the home.

The solution to the sleep debt problem is not immediately evident. Many of us just accept that we will have to deal with the effects of sleep deprivation during the week, get ourselves back on a relatively even keel at the weekend, and then begin the process anew on Monday. If we could all find jobs that allowed us eight hours of work, eight hours of free time (minus travel and preparation times) and eight hours of sleep, we’d probably all be a lot happier. As this is not an achievable situation, we have to look at the options we do have.

It is vital, however, that we all realize that burning the candle at both ends is not a sustainable way of doing things, long term. If you can find a way to increase your window of opportunity for sleeping, then it is a good idea to do so. You will feel a great deal more recharged as a result.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on June 7, 2009.

How To Motivate Yourself In Difficult Times

Tips to motivate in hard times

Take Inspiration and Motivate Yourself

There are times when it can be difficult to motivate yourself to do pretty much anything. These times can spring from anything from tiredness to fear, and there are certainly cases where the reluctance to act can be caused by a medical condition, but what it boils down to is that a reluctance to act, which can be extensively damaging, is often the product of a combination of matters and can be hard to overcome. In these situations you need to look at the problem head-on and say “I’m not going to be broken down by this – I’m going to break it down”. Although this is generally easier said than done, managing it brings many rewards.

The ability to stick at things even when it seems difficult or pointless is something prized highly by bosses. It wouldn’t be fair to say that apathy is endemic in society, but it is troubling to see talented people laid low by a lack of confidence, especially when that lack is brought on by what amounts to an arbitrary failure. Say, for example, that a person has competed in a talent contest or an open training session for a sports team. In such cases, talent is very much in the eye of the beholder. Coaches and record execs have often made the decision to plump for one of two people based on a very subjective selection criteria. The people who have been passed over may have gone on to assume that they would never succeed, but that is not always the case.

Witness the NFL. Every year teams draft players to feature in the playing squads that will take them through a season, and they have their selection criteria set ahead of time. It is universally accepted that guys selected in the first round of seven are expected to succeed, those selected in the second and third rounds are hopefuls, and below that you may have a 50/50 chance of making it if you put everything into the game. In 2000, Tom Brady was selected in the sixth round by the New England Patriots. Nine years later he has won three Superbowls, being voted Most Valuable Player in two of them. 2000 was widely viewed pre-Draft as a thin year for quarterbacks, and five were selected before Brady. The truth is that sometimes people don’t realize what they have passed up.

There are stories like this in all categories, and every time it is the story of the individual who was passed over for an arguably less talented person because it’s just this simple – opinions differ. If you let one person’s evaluation of you be the one that sticks, and it’s a negative opinion, then you don’t give anyone else the encouragement that might be the difference between choosing you and passing you over. Keep in mind that sometimes people need to keep trying in order to succeed – take inspiration from one of the many who may not have got there first, but have stayed there longer than those who did.

To streamline and minimize blog maintenance, I will be discontinuing maintaining the website (however, I will still hold the domain). I will gradually move all articles from this site to Ahmed Dawn Dot Com site. This article originally published on the above website on August 8, 2009.