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PSCS Spring Fundraiser 2011: "10 Stories in 10 Days" - Vol. 9   


The Meaningful Life

Wow. I just opened up my email inbox and read a message from one of our volunteers (he wishes to remain anonymous). It read, “Going for blackjack here.” It was a donation of $1890.55. After I finished screaming, I emailed him and asked the significance of those numbers. He wrote, “That amount was just $20,000 minus the last available total you had mentioned, with an extra $1,000 thrown in for good measure. : ) $21,000. Blackjack.”
 
And that, officially, crushes our new goal of $20,000 for the campaign.
 
Not only that, but we also received donations from PSCS parents Michael Arboit and Julie Vance, Jacqueline and Michael Stein, PSCS grandparents Emmett and Bonnie Byrnes, former PSCS parent and board member Victoria Clearwater, volunteer Karen Cowgill, and longtime friend Margaret Fitzgerald. Their contributions added up to an additional $750 to support PSCS Our new total for the campaign: $21,750.

My head is spinning right now. In fact, I’m typing this while sitting on the floor because I’m afraid I might pass out at any moment.
 
* * *
 
I have to say, serving as interim director of PSCS has had its highs and lows. But you want to know what has been the most stressful part of the job? This.


 
This is a plant that Melinda gave me the day before she and Andy left for their sabbatical year in France. She told me a very long story—actually, I think she got the story from Malcolm Hooper, our board treasurer—about how this plant was of Chinese origin and has spiritual qualities related to prosperity and abundance. This plant, she said, was a symbol of financial security and health. Keep this plant alive and thriving, she said, and it would bring good luck to our fundraising efforts. Letting the plant die would be bad. Really bad.
 
I’ve never been able to keep anything green alive. It’s just not my thing. So every day for a month I would pour huge volumes of water on this plant until the dish below it was basically a swimming pool. I even dipped my finger in a cup of water and would individually place drops on each leaf. Freya, our interim bookkeeper, saw what I was doing and politely told me that I didn’t need to water it every single day. When I asked her how often I should water it, she essentially advised me to use my instincts and water it when it needed water.
 
For the last eight months, I’ve been looking at that plant wondering, Am I watering you enough? Am I watering you too much?
 
Today, I feel like I can relax. The Chinese money plant is alive and well. And so is PSCS.
 
* * *
 
Martin Seligman is past president of the American Psychological Association and the founder of the modern Positive Psychology movement, and his research has had a major impact on PSCS philosophy. For example, his work is one of the reasons why we do appreciations to start and end each day.  
 
Seligman has also done significant research on happiness, and has identified three very different routes to achieve it.
 
The first is what he calls “The Pleasant Life,” which consists of having as many pleasures as possible. Smiling and being cheerful are signs of The Pleasant Life. Seligman and his colleagues found this has little correlation to overall life satisfaction.
 
The second, and more profound, route to happiness is called “The Good Life.” This means you know what your signature strengths are, and have re-crafted your work, love, friendships, and leisure to use those strengths. The goal is to increase the amount of time you spend in what’s called a flow state, when you are so absorbed in an activity that the rest of the world ceases to exist and you get lost in the moment. People who spend a great deal of time in flow report very high levels of life satisfaction.
 
But the people who report the highest levels of life satisfaction are living and working primarily in the third path to happiness, which Seligman calls “The Meaningful Life.” That’s when you’re using your signature strengths to get into a flow state, but it’s done in the service of something larger than yourself.
 
This is why community service is such an important part of the PSCS program. And it may help explain why 6th grader Margaux Bouchegnies approached me with a powerful idea earlier this month. First, here’s a picture of Margaux (shot by PSCS alum Kellen Fujimoto). Her message to the PSCS community is below it.
 


Hi! 
 
This is Margaux here with a strong thought that PSCS should have a fundraiser I’m calling Places in Need (PIN).
 
There are a lot of places in need right now and, I feel that we should help. I am asking for anybody to donate as much as they want in a kind hearted way.  : )
 
I have been thinking about ways to help. So I would like to put together and participate in a fundraiser for places in need from PSCS. I know that at PSCS we have a fundraiser. But what I was thinking is, Why don't we have a fundraiser for places that need the most help? I feel like being part of a community means giving back—not just to the community, but to the world.
 
Whenever someone is in need in our community, people come to help, so that’s why we should have this fundraiser for around the world! Over spring break I did a lot of research on some organizations. I picked The Red Cross because 1) that is the one most people are familiar with and 2) because I think it is a trustworthy organization that I am very pleased with! So, (as you have probably already guessed) I would like the PSCS PIN organization (YES I MADE A NAME FOR IT!!! PIN = places in need) to donate money to The Red Cross! Yes, it makes me happy. I hope it makes you happy too! :D
 
Our goal will be $300! Look, I'm not saying if we give more then $300 that’s a bad thing. IT'S A FANTABOULUS THING! Give as much as you want, but I would suggest over 1 penny . . . just saying, Hahahaha.
 
Your friend that loves BACON,
 
Margaux! : )
 
* * *
 
So today, on Day 9 of our “10 Stories in 10 Days” fundraiser, Margaux and I are inviting the PSCS community to celebrate the fact that we have exceeded our fundraising goal by identifying an organization serving people in need—maybe it’s The Red Cross or another organization of your choice—and to send your donations there. Then, please do me a favor. Email your thoughts and your story to pscs@pscs.org and I will forward them Margaux on your behalf.
 
When we act in service of something larger than ourselves, that’s when we truly become our best selves.

With gratitude,

Steve Miranda
Interim Director


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