It is often only in hindsight that we realise how important a moment was to become.
In June 2010 I did a couple of very important things; however, I did not know that they were important at the time.
When a baby takes its first steps, it does not realise what all of the fuss is about and why parents and grandparents are rushing about for the cameras and the baby books, to record this amazing moment in picture and in writing.
From the baby’s perspective, it used to move horizontally and now it can move vertically. “I used to walk upright by holding onto things and now I walk upright without touching anything… for a few seconds, until I fall down!” The baby does not understand the impact that her first steps have, as it is only a small step and a small change for itself. The baby doesn’t “get it” until much later.
A few years later when the small child sees photos of itself, it can see times when it was being carried or crawling: times when “I was a baby”. The child can also see pictures of when he or she was walking, holding a parents hand: times when “I was little”. The first steps mark the transition from “being a baby” to becoming a young boy or a young girl.
Continuing to walk over the next few years, and continuing to grow and develop, the child grows larger, and walks further. At the time of the first steps, the child has no idea of how large it may grow nor how far he or she will go.
In June 2010 I took a couple of small steps and at the time, I did not realise the transition or the impact which they would make over time and distance.
One step I took in June 2010 was to go to the Vipassna meditation course (www.dhamma.org). This ten days was like a bootcamp of the soul which practically killed the man who was clinically depressed and perennially sleeping in, in the same way that the emerging butterfly seems to be a whole new angelic creature and totally unlike the grub that crawled into a tomb and seemed to die.
The first five days of waking at dawn to sit and meditate were pure torture. The next five days became joy. The man who came home was a completely different creature to the one who left the house. My wife cried with joy to see me and I cried with joy for many days afterwards. The 7:55 alarm and three hits of the snooze button were a thing of the past, giving way to joyful dawn awakenings and motivational 5am walks on the beach: once you’ve learned to walk, you seldom go back to crawling.
Since June 2010 I have witnessed over 1200 sunrises, captured thousands of amazing images and sat and meditated on the same spot on the same beach over 1000 times. This 1000th Sunrise became a major milestone, an incredible celebration with a large group of friends and the subject of a documentary film, entitled “1001 Reasons to be Happy”.
Over the years, I have been joined at sunrise by hundreds of people: on some sunny days we had scores, sometimes half a dozen, and some days I was alone or with one or two hardcore meditators, when the winds and rain threatened to wipe us off the beach. Each sunrise has been special, each dawn has been amazing and each one has helped to make me into the man that I am today.
Also in June 2010, I made a commitment to Buy One Give One (www.b1g1.com) to give a gift which I highly value, to those who need it most.
Anyone who has seen me knows that I am seldom without a water bottle. I carry water everywhere I go and drink many litres a day to keep my mind fresh and my body hydrated. In Australia we are spoiled for choice: although the water out of every tap in every home or most front yards is quite drinkable, there are also hundreds of brands of bottled water which you can buy. I love water, we have an abundance of it and yet there are some children who cannot access this gift.
I also value education very highly. The child of two school teachers, I was taught to read early and grew up in a country where education is given freely. Most people are educated for low cost or no cost (similar to the free drinking water from the tap), and some choose to pay a lot of money to buy the best education (or the best drinking water) that they can.
As someone who has been educated by many schooling systems, a couple of universities and by numerous business mentors, I know that a good education can make a monumental difference in the quality of a persons life. Basic spoken English and math will secure you a basic paying job, and generally the higher the education, the higher the paid salary. At other levels, a grandiose or multi-faceted business education can help to create millionaires or billionaires. Some people use their money and their education to improve their own lives immensely, and some people also choose to improve the lives of others at the same time.
In addition to witnessing the joy of 1000+ sunrises, and sharing the gift of thousands of sunrise photographs with thousands of people through social media, I have also been able to give the gift of fresh clean drinking water and the gift of education to thousands of people around the world.
Please understand that I do not share the story to impress you with my achievements (hundreds of meditations can tend to cure you of many ego issues); I tell the story to show you what is possible for you. Do not look at the person who climbs the mountain or runs the marathon and see them as amazing; see them as the potential for what can be a possibility for you. Achieving a milestone such as a mountain climb, marathon or meditation can make you feel fantastic; in the same way, giving what you value to others, can make you feel wonderful as well.
You don’t need to be Oprah Winfrey to build a school in Africa, nor do you need to be Warren Buffett or Bill Gates to bring life-saving medical technology to the villagers in the Third World. Sometimes the simple first step can be providing a couple of school books to a single child, or bringing a drink of fresh clean water to a person who has been, up to then, drinking from a polluted river.
If you wish to climb a mountain or run a marathon, start by climbing a large hill or doing a 5 kilometre fun run. Then work your way up.
I started with one meditation on one morning and then took daily steps until I reached 1000 (and still going, should you wish to join me one day at sunrise, come on down!)
I started with one gift of education on one day and kept up the consistency.
Thanks to the generousity of our clients, along with my wife Yvie, we have now given almost 100 000 people access to fresh clean drinking water, something that can save lives in the Third World, where diarrhoea is often a death sentence. We have also given the gift of education to over 10 000 children in Zimbabwe.
Kids who do not learn written or spoken English are usually stuck working as labourers or on farms to feed themselves. Those who are given even a Primary education in English can entertain the possibility of working in the city, in an air-conditioned office and may be able to support their whole family.
Some people reading this may be able to access fresh clean drinking water from a few metres away, for zero cost. Some people reading this may be able to access high school education for zero cost, access heavily subsidised university education or attend a free seminar on how to make money through business, property or shares.
Some people may not realise how wealthy they really are. Give a gift and you will find out!
If you’d like to gain $1000 to make you feel good, consider that meditating for 1000 hours or gifting life-transforming education to 1000 children may feel just as good (if not better!)
If you’d like to have an additional $10 000 to buy yourself something nice, consider the feeling you would get if you knew that 10 000 people could access clean water in good health.
If you’d like to have the security that $100 000 could bring, consider that giving a new future to 100 000 people is a lot simpler, a lot more rewarding and more affordable than most people realise.
You do not have to be a millionaire to change the lives of thousands of others, and you do not have to be a billionaire to impact millions of lives. Your benevolent gift can start small, with a single baby step, which you just repeat on a regular basis. 🙂
- WARNING: Many charitable organisations mean well however so many of them can have high overheads or administration fees. Some admin fees of some charities can be 20% or as high as 50% of each dollar donated. We use B1G1 because they subtract $0 and 0% admin fee: this means that we know that 100% of all monies given to B1G1 will land in the hand of the beneficiary. Choose your charity wisely by asking them “What percent admin fee is deducted from my gift?”
To join B1G1 and support hundreds of causes in dozens of countries, from education, to water, to ending slavery, to planting trees, to helping pregnant women or saving endangered wildlife, click here. It feels great to help others and you can also meet up with other like-minded people or network with businesses who are for creating sustainable social connections. If you join up and put in the privilege code “FYRST”, you will receive a special gift from us & B1G1.
DISCLAIMER: B1G1 takes no admin fees from donations and relies on its members for support. It pays no referral or affiliate fees to members for new introductions and does not ask for members to recruit new givers. Yvie & Jeremy Britton love to talk about B1G1 because we love it and it makes us feel good to share with others and to share the ideas with you, in the same way as we would tell you about a great restaurant, a terrific new business idea or a new activity we enjoy. This article was not endorsed by B1G1; we just felt like celebrating our 100 000th giving activity milestone and we hope that you will also be inspired to start a new habit of regularly giving that which you value most.