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One of the cornerstones of the Body-for-Life program is the Universal Law of Reciprocity. In essence, part of helping your lose weight and keep it off is remembering to reach out and help others. It can be as simple as an encouraging word to someone who’s struggling. It can be paying tolls for the people behind you. The key is doing something for another, without expecting anything for it.

Developing this attitude of gratitude helps pull you out of your own drama. It gets you focused on helping others, and by doing that you help yourself. When I started my fitness and weight-loss journey, I made a point of including daily Universal Law of Reciprocity (ULR) work into my program. I literally had as part of my daily plan, “encourage X today.”

The key thing here is that this is a specific, focused action. It’s not just a blind status update saying. “great job!” It’s something with a purpose behind it. I see a lot of folks these days who post the status update of the day. You know the one, “if you believe in cause X, put this as your status.” The thing is, does that status update really help move anything forward? I mean it’s not much work or thought for you to do a copy and paste. It’s a bit like grabbing a shotgun, closing your eyes, spinning in a circle, then pulling the trigger and hoping you hit something.

You might, but it’s probably not going to be real pretty when you open your eyes.

The goal isn’t to show the world how much you care. The goal is to take action and make a difference for someone. A genuine kind word to one who is struggling has the potential to change a life. Too often, I think we lose track of what it means to give back. It means a sacrifice. Sometimes it’s a small one, a few minutes of your time. It may be bigger, in the form of money to a cause you believe in. It may be a half day volunteering. It may be picking up the phone and listening for a few hours to someone who’s hurting.

Some days people may know it’s you reaching out. Some days it’s you operating behind the scenes. Those are some of my favorite moments of ULR in action. When you can quietly work on the back end to make something come through for a person who needs it, that’s a great feeling.

The next time you update your status to reflect the cause of the day, ask yourself what you can do to really make an impact. How can you take that off the cuff action and really make a difference in the world around you?

Great changes happen one small act at a time. That’s how you lose weight, and that’s how you build your way to a happy and meaningful life.