Every Monday, I share a happiness tip — something that works for our family, that you may want to try with your own.

This week’s tip is: choose a cause to support as a family. While America seems to be filled with an increasing number of self-centered, entitled children (and adults!), your family doesn’t have to swell those numbers. One of the best antidotes to self-centeredness is giving back — plus, donating time and money to those who need it fosters perspective, counteracts the “gimmes” and establishes a meaningful connection with the human race as a whole.

Some of the most meaningful, lasting pleasure our family has experienced has come from lending a helping hand where it’s needed. Giving back doesn’t have to be hard. Your family could take part in a fundraising walk, take holiday gifts to a nursing home, volunteer at an animal shelter or cook and serve meals at a homeless shelter. There’s no more effective lesson to help instill gratitude and selflessness.

For each of their bar mitzvahs, in addition to volunteering their time in the community, my boys decided to forgo material gifts and instead asked guests to donate to a specific cause. Through their inspired coordination and the generosity of family and friends, each of them was able to raise about $25,000 for different causes: my oldest supported breast cancer research, my twins helped benefit childhood cancer treatment, and my youngest raised funds for clinical research to improve cochlear implant technology. All are causes that are close to our family’s heart, and the boys each feel pride and commitment to the concept of giving back.

Among other causes, I’m an ardent supporter of breast cancer research and ending child hunger in America. It’s been a privilege to donate 100% of the proceeds of our book, Letters From Home, among Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, FORCE and Share Our Strength.

How does your family give back? What are your favorite causes to support?


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