Posted by: everynation | October 12, 2009

How to earn psychic income

lynn1.jpgby Lynn Nawata

I remember growing up in Canada, there was this “Ya mon” talking, headscarf-wearing Jamaican psychic named “Miss Cleo” who would urge TV viewers to “call now for your free readin’” (the reading may have been free but the call was $0.99 per minute). Apparently she made good money doling out psychic advice with an island accent. Good, that is, until a Florida attorney general revealed that she was, in fact, Youree Dell Harris of Los Angeles, California. Her fortune telling business tanked and Miss Cleo mysteriously disappeared from the airwaves.

So it follows that when I came across talk of “psychic income” in the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, I couldn’t help but think of the ill-fated (but presumably rich) Miss Cleo. This time, however, psychic income did not refer to tarot card reading or crystal ball gazing on TV infomercials.

The search for psychic income, according to authors Li and Bernoff, is what leads people to do altruistic acts for no reason other than to feel good about doing good or helping others. Or, to put it more simply, the “warm fuzzies” we get from loving our neighbor or serving the poor are far more rewarding than any monetary compensation ever could be.

It is this search for psychic income (the real one, not Miss Cleo’s) that motivates people to care for orphans or to volunteer their time to build houses for the poor with Gawad Kalinga or Habitat for Humanity.

American philanthropist Paul Tudor Jones has said, “From fifty-two years of observation, the people I see in life that are the happiest, the most fulfilled, and have a sparkle in their eyes are those who have a huge component of service in their lives and in some form or fashion give to other people besides themselves.”

I see this in our wonderful volunteers who give of themselves to help our Real LIFE feeding program in Pasig every week. People who willingly give up their Saturday mornings to serve, feed and play with 180 hungry, hyper, adorable, tsinela-clod kids. For some, it’s a way to be a good 21st century citizen and practice social responsibility. For others, it’s a practical way to live out Jesus’ imperative to “love your neighbor.” And for yet others, maybe a way to get in touch with their inner Brangelina?

Whatever the motivation, in an age of economic hardship, it’s good to know we all have the opportunity to earn psychic income. Who knows, some of us may even end up with true riches.

Lynn Nawata is the Executive Director of the Real Life Foundation and the author of The Tale of Gaijin and Lynn’s Book Club.

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