Giving The Best

Courtesies of a small and trivial character are the ones which strike deepest in the gratefully and appreciating heart.

·         Henry Clay

Five-year-old Katie asked for a coin for her to throw into a fountain at a local shopping centre. She was given one, and duly walked over to the fountain, stopped for a few seconds, and threw it into the water, and came back to us, smiling.

“What did you wish for, Katie?” I asked, expecting some mention of Barbie in the answer.

“I wished that my brother could stay at home with us all of the time, and not have to go into hospital any more.” She replied.

I looked over at my wife, and saw that she had a tear in her eye.

On reflection, it made me realise how unselfish children can be in certain situations. They do not torture themselves with bias or perceptions of how their actions might impact upon others. They generally do what they want to do, and say what they want to say, until they get told to conform by parents or teachers. Children do need to be informed of boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed, or words that shouldn’t be said. They should, however, be allowed to fully develop their natural imagination and caring instincts in a positive, supportive framework.

By the same token, it made me realise how selfish us grown-ups have become. It seems that, for a lot of people, every act is performed only because of an expectation of something in return. You don’t think so? Let’s look at some examples:

Giving with the expectation to receive is not giving, it’s lending. If you are lending somebody something, even subconsciously, you automatically expect some interest in return. This interest element is what causes the problem.

In the same way that interest on money compounds, so does this bank of accumulated selfishness. Like your monetary debt is always in the back of your mind, your subconscious will not let you move forward unless you balance the equation.

The most difficult way to become successful is by attempting to achieve everything on your own. If you desire long-term success at whatever you do, you can only get (and stay) there with the help of other people. Only by focusing on the other person will you be able to give without expecting to receive. Help other people, without expectation, and you help yourself on the road to success.

Gary Vurnum

Gary Vurnum has left the corporate world behind to focus on helping others succeed. He uses the lessons he has learnt from surviving the life-or-death situations he has faced with his severely disabled son. Others may not want his life...but he is the happiest he has ever been. Send a blank email to to get his free 4 part report on Success - "11 Reasons Why You Will Never Succeed"


There are two kinds of people in the world: the Givers and the Takers.The difference between the two is that the Takers eat well, and the Givers sleep well at night.

·         Joy Mills - Between Heaven and Earth: the Purpose of the Soul

We still talk about that frigid January morning in 1950 when I was 8 years old.

I was brushing my hair, huddled close to the wood stove along with my older brother and three little sisters, trying to keep warm while Mom cooked oatmeal. We heard sounds upstairs like marbles rolling across the floor, so Dad went upstairs to check. Halfway up the stairs he yelled, "The house is on fire!"

We lived way out in the country near Orrock, Minnesota, with no telephone, so the house and most of our belongings burned to the ground before help arrived. Family photographs, Mom's treadle sewing machine and a few other personal belongings were all they could pull from the house while we girls ran to the neighbors.

Dad had been unemployed that winter, and we had neither money nor insurance with which to replace anything we lost in the fire. After we stayed a few days with relatives, Dad borrowed money to rent an old farmhouse nearby. Mom set up housekeeping with furniture, bedding and kitchen utensils relatives and friends had donated.

We didn't have much before the fire, but I hadn't felt our poverty before. Now I stood in someone else's too-large dress, in a colorless, bare-windowed house, looking at a paint-spattered table, mismatched chairs, worn towels and a spatula with a broken handle, and I couldn't keep from crying. We had become paupers who didn't deserve better. While we were extremely grateful for everything we were given, it was a difficult, dreary time for us.

Then a neighbor came with a gift. She handed my mother a set of brand-new, beautifully hand-embroidered pillowcases. The sight of the pure white cotton casees, folded to display the bright, hand-stiched pink, lavender and green floral design, almost took my breath away. I could hardly believe she meant for us to keep them. Others had given us what they least wanted themselves, but this neighbor gave us the best she had!

We hadn't lived in that community very long before the fire, and we soon moved away and lost touch with the neighbors. Now, more than 50 years later, I no longer remember who gave us that gift, but I do remember the sense of self-worth it restored to me. We must be okay for someone to give us such a beautiful and precious handmade gift.

It is one of my favorite memories and many times it has been the example that directs my own actions. They gave the best they had.

-Connie Lounsbury, from Lifewise Magazine, ©1999

About the Author

Connie Lounsbury is a freelance writer who frequently writes for Guideposts™ the magazine founded by Dr. Norman Vincent Peale that promotes Positive Thinking. She lives in rural Monticello, Minnesota, with her husband David. They have four daughters and nine grandchildren. Along the same line of thought, television station KIMT, serving northern Iowa and southern Minnesota sponsors a program in their community called "Giving Your Best." This may simply be a coincidence, but the idea seems to be contagious in the Minnesota region.

Give, to others, but more especially yourself, the very best!



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