I love our Declaration of Independence, where Thomas Jefferson boldly declares:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Yes, Happiness! Our Founders wanted us to be happy!
They wanted it so bad they led us to break free from the king. It took winning a war.
They risked their lives so we could begin establishing freedom throughout our society.
We have come a long ways since then, and we still have a long ways to go.
But the basic principles and ideals in the Declaration and in our
Constitution give us the structure within which we can build ever higher
levels of freedom for all our citizens.
And as we work hard to do this together, let us pursue our happiness!
But how – you ask?
How can I actually have a happier life—beginning
The happy builder
Look around at people who are genuinely happy.
They all have something in common.
They are like our Founders. They are builders!
A builder is a constructive individual.
A builder makes positive things happen, for himself and for others.
A builder is happy because he sees himself making a difference in this
He is part of creating something good. Even if it is tiny, it is good!
He is building life, and building life makes a person happy.
It also attracts good people who want to build life with him.
So a very effective path to make yourself happier is to become a builder.
So how do you begin?
How do you start moving in this positive direction?
How do you connect in a more constructive manner with yourself and others?
I am going to offer you a powerful way that you can start right now.
With just a simple question.
Just one question that you can ask yourself at any hour of the day or night,
about any aspect of your life.
It is simple but profound.
There are only two possible answers.
One leads to growth and happiness. The other to emptiness and misery.
OK. Are you game?
At first, you may not get it.
You may wonder why I am making a big deal about this question.
But have a little faith in me here…
this will be worth your time to explore.
If you will actually ASK this question of yourself…often…
in the real life every day situations you are in the midst of right now…
you will begin to see its value and its impact.
So, here we go…
Next time you are about to do something, simply ask yourself:
Am I building or am I using?
What does this mean?
It means you ask yourself: Which one is my motive?
Which one is the deep down reason WHY I am doing this particular thing?
In every interaction with another human being (or with yourself)
you are doing one of two things:
You are either building with them or you are using them.
What do I mean by using?
To use someone is to interact with them for your own gain or pleasure. Period.
You are taking.
You give them nothing in return.
Nothing that contributes to their day, their growth, their life, their happiness.
You are building nothing with them.
They have simply been used for your own benefit, and you continue on afterwards.
It’s possible that you may be feeling a bit insulted at this point.
You may be thinking What??? I don’t use people !!!
You may believe that you mostly build.
You may be shocked, however, when you really look into it.
It is likely that you are using others way more than you realize.
Even the people you love the most.
Flat out using them.
No building at all.
OUCH !!! It will be painful if you come to this recognition.
I’m sorry for the pain.
But it can’t be avoided if you want to become a builder.
Facing it will open you to see that there is another much better way for you to live.
So let’s do this together
To get you started, I am going to offer you a simple example of where you may be using
others but in a relatively harmless way.
I will show you how you can make the simple shift to building.
It comes from a shift in your perspective.
I just want you to get inside it and experience it.
Get the feel of the shift in your own soul.
As you will see, to change from a user to a builder takes character…
and it takes love…
A simple beginning
Next time you go to a store (McDonald’s, Walmart, wherever), before you walk up
to the counter where the clerk is standing, ask yourself The Question:
Am I building or am I using?
If you are using them, you won’t show any real recognition that they are a human being.
You will treat them the same as if they were a robot.
The automatic “Thanks” you may say at the end, though better than nothing, doesn’t
count. You have used them. Period. And you walk away with your bag of stuff.
But what could you do differently today, as a builder with a heart full of love?
How could you show recognition of this person, and honor your common humanity?
Well, you could look them in the eyes, smile and say Hi to them by name.
They all wear name tags.
You could ask: “How’s it going today?” and allow yourself to care how they really are,
and to respond genuinely to what they tell you.
You could even say:
“Thank you for taking the risk to work in the middle of this
pandemic. I appreciate that I can still come to (McD, Walmart, etc.) for what I need.
You’re doing a great job.”
They will light up the way you would, if someone said that to you.
So, what have you done here?
You have built a positive experience with a hard working person who is accustomed
to being used and ignored.
Was that so hard? No. And it took less than five minutes while you were standing there.
Did you make a positive difference in this person’s life today? Yes.
You are a builder in the making.
Now that you have gained the insight and felt the benefit of making this shift,
I encourage you to begin asking The Question in your day to day life.
How does it apply to your relationship with your parents?
To your relationship with your brothers and sisters, friends, co-workers and classmates?
To your relationship with your neighbors, your community, your country, your world?
Each time you decide—on any of these levels– to build instead of use,
you will become happier.
It will be an adventure! One you can begin by taking that first simple step.
Do you see that The Question — Am I building or am I using? — is first and foremost about YOU?
Instead of just using your mind, your body, your life—you are building yourself!
To become a builder with others.
That is what the golden garage is all about.
How do you feel about this adventure? Write and tell me!