Blue Monday...or Not

Despite the fact that Blue Monday is actually January 24, 2011, I’ve been hearing a lot of Blue Monday talk today. I’ve even heard people saying it is today (Wikipedia would disagree, and it’s never wrong). Whichever day it is, it’s still just a marketing gimmick created a few years ago and sent out to “reputable” “science-types” to cosign and make it seem legitimate.

Well, it’s not. And the formula for this discovery…


 …doesn’t even make sense. Some of those letters aren’t even defined. I’m no math whiz, but I’m pretty sure that mess up there won’t work without units or definitions. Just a thought.

That being said, it does make sense to feel a little down this time of year. The weather is absolutely unforgiving, we’re suddenly realizing our loved ones probably didn’t need that many presents and some of us might even be looking disdainfully on our already broken New Year’s Resolutions.

That’s alright, though. There are plenty of ways to bring some energy into your day. Awhile back Angela Wilson wrote a blog which mentioned the affects of volunteering:

“…according to Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, the health benefits of doing good things for others are similar to those experienced by people who practice yoga, spirituality and meditation. The sense of calmness that comes from helping others is also known as the helper's high. These altruistic feelings reinforce the sense that one's life has a purpose. In turn, this enhances self-esteem, which then provides the motivation for a person to make better lifestyle choices…”

Not too shabby. But this blog isn’t about volunteering; it’s about philanthropy in general. In today’s context, the word is synonymous with donating and our city shows that in spades. More than 800,000 people in the Alberta Capital Region donate to local charities and non-profit organizations and more than 500,000 of us give of our time and skills as a volunteer.

But some acts of philanthropy are less apparent and we may be more likely to see the traditional sense of the word – donating to a local charity, volunteering to serve food to less fortunate – but that isn’t the only way we can display philanthropy. The original intent of the word was to denote an enveloping love of humanity.

And in that sense, philanthropy is everywhere.

It reverberates from the guitar strings of the street performer on Whyte Avenue, it resonates from the pounding of thousands of feet hitting the pavement as we run races in support of a cause and is even reflected in the smile we show the person who serves us coffee in the morning.

Any act of philanthropy displays not just a willingness to give a part of ourselves, but the willingness to create a community in which we are all included.

It’s really all in the trying. And practice really does make perfect. For example, look at this guy:

I’m not 100% sure but it’s probably safe to say that wasn’t the first time he’s ever balanced 20+ bricks on his head – and he even drops one or two.

Philanthropy is not just an action, it’s also a skill. One that can be learned and improved upon. So if you’re feeling a little down this month, spread some love. Tip your server a little better, smile and greet your bus driver (they HAVE to drive in this terrible weather) or go get coffees for your coworkers.

What are you doing to chase Blue Monday away?


Jeremy Bibaud is Manager of New Media for United Way of the Alberta Capital Region.