What makes you happy? Do that.

Fred (looking like The Thinker)

Fred (looking like The Thinker)

My mother decided that she wasn’t going to buy anyone in our family Christmas gifts this year, but instead wanted to donate money to the Salvation Army. She’d done some research on-line (she really is using her iPad) and came to the conclusion that the Salvation Army made the most of donations. I suggested that she could double her contribution by shopping for winter coats, hats, etc, at the Salvation Army thrift store and then donate those to a half-way house that is always in need of good clothing. I also offered to shop with her. She loved the idea and we had our first buying trip last week. We checked out a cart full of great clothing and the total bill was $36. My mother was utterly surprised. We’re going to need to make a number of trips for her to reach her donation amount.

Every element of this project is fun. Because we are not looking for clothing for ourselves, or anyone in particular, all we need to do is focus on buying good stuff. All of the size 2, 4, 6.., adorable women’s clothes (that I never gave a second look at in the past since I didn’t have a prayer of fitting into them) we can now happily buy for “someone” and imagine how happy they will be to get these great clothes. I’m also trying not to over-think this. Will these clothes be wanted? Liked? Who knows. All I can really know is what I am feeling at any moment and the older I get, the more I think that being happy is what we are here to do and be.

There is a lot of talk about “service” in the world of spirituality/religion, but so much of it is grim; carrying the dark undertones of the suffering, selfless, servant. Many of us carry the burden of guilt that we are not doing enough, so we try to do things that we hope will be helpful but we struggle to do them. I don’t enjoy being with people who are not enjoying being with me. If I think that someone is motivated by guilt or a sense of obligation in our interaction, I’d rather they stay away. So I have to extend this reasoning to the world and believe that others can sense my motivation too. If I could wave a magic wand over the world, my wish would be to see everyone as happy. I cannot give what I don’t have, so if I want the world to be happy, I must become it first.


Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman



my latest painting

my latest painting for sale on MY ARTWORK page

8 thoughts on “What makes you happy? Do that.

  1. What a wonderful, caring, thoughtful and special idea you and your mom have come up with ~ and it’s so inspiring. I give to animal shelters instead of buying new toys for my 4 grand pups. Two already have too many and the other two take only minutes to destroy what I buy them.
    Thank you Mary for such a great suggestion.
    BTW, as your mom must have determined, many charities actually give very little to help others as what they collect goes for administrative fees, salaries, ext. ~ do your research!

  2. Hi Mary, “Now I know why” I have kept my Dad’s clothes bagged up at my house and haven’t taken them to the Salvation Army yet! I just called the homeless shelter in my town and will be dropping Dad’s clothes off there. The woman who answered the phone sounded thrilled! Thank you to you and your Mom!! Peace, Bev

  3. That’s such a generous thing to do….my girlfriend and I also put so much money together and she goes to Goodwill on quarter days and buys heavy winter coats, gloves and hats and we donate them to a shelter that gives out free clothes to the homeless in our vicinity …..they are always in need of warm clothing…..so I think what your mom and you are doing is wonderful and will be very much appreciated by whoever gets them.

  4. Mary (and Mom), What a wonderful, thoughtful, great and fun thing to do together! I love it and will do it. Sadly my Mom is no longer with us, I know she’ll be ‘shopping with me’ and smiling down ! Most sincerely, thanks again for all you do.

  5. Mary, what a creative way to deal with Christmas gifts with your mother and fun too, selecting clothing, which I would never have thought of myself…and donating it back to the Salvation Army. It is the only charity I will support because they don’t skim money off the top to pay executive salaries. In our town nearby, I found out this past summer with my Bed&Breakfast, that the Salvation Army will pay for someone in an emergency to stay overnight in a motel or, in this case, since the motels were all booked up on this particular week-end, a B&B. I was called by the police at 11:30 one night and asked if I would take someone in, in an emergency situation. I was surprised to find that the Salvation Army allows so much every year to the police for this sort of thing.
    SandyP in Canada

    • Mary, what a great idea for the holidays . A more wise use money, and a happy way to give it. There are so many fine , good people who need our help and concern in tangible ways. What a state of grace it is to be in a position to give and share in the giving…. And Sandy thanks for mentioning this way that the Salvation Army also reaches out , very good to know that there is shelter for those who unexpectedly need it.

  6. Salvation Army was always my mother’s favorite charity – for the exact same reasons your mother picked it. Thank you for this lovely post!

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