Inspirational Story

Doing Well By Doing

Excerpted from a speech delivered by Mr. Brody to the graduating class of John Hopkins University on May 26, 2005. There is a man who I’d like to tell you about. His name is Sandy Greenberg. In his youth, Sandy was a very good student, but he came from a poor family. And so he went to Columbia University on a scholarship and there he met his roommate who also was receiving financial aid.

Now while he was a sophomore at Columbia University, Sandy contracted an eye disease that eventually proved to be glaucoma. But the trouble was, it wasn’t detected early enough, and as a result he became legally blind. I ask you all to imagine for a moment having been sighted all your life, and then all of a sudden being faced, in a very competitive school, with losing so much sight you could no longer read. This is what happened to Sandy Greenberg.

But something else happened to Sandy that may surprise you. Sandy said that when he lost his sight, his roommate would read his textbooks to him, every night.

So I’m going to put you in that position, in a competitive school like Columbia, or Johns Hopkins. If your roommate had a serious disability, would you take the time to read textbooks to him every night, knowing the more you spend time reading textbooks to your roommate, perhaps the less well you might do with your other activities? That’s not as easy a question as it first appears.

But luckily for Sandy, his roommate did. And as a result, Sandy went on to graduate with honors. He got a Fulbright Scholarship, and he went off to study at Oxford. He was still quite poor, but he said he had managed to save about five hundred dollars as he went along.

His roommate, meanwhile, also went on to graduate school. One day, Sandy got a call from him at Oxford. And his former roommate said, “Sandy I’m really unhappy. I really don’t like being in graduate school, and I don’t want to do this.”

So Sandy asked, “Well what do you want to do?”

And his roommate told him, “Sandy, I really love to sing. I have a high school friend who plays the guitar. And we would really like to try our hand in the music business. But we need to make a promo record, and in order to do that I need $500.”

So Sandy Greenberg told me he took all his life savings and sent it to his roommate. He told me, “You know, what else could I do? He made my life; I needed to help make his life.”

So, I hope you’ll remember the power of doing well by doing good. Each of you, in your own lives, will be faced with challenges, with roadblocks, with problems that you didn’t anticipate or expect. How you are able to deal with adversity will be influenced, to no small extent, by how you deal with others along the way. What you get will depend a lot on what you give. And that’s the end of the story of doing well, by doing good.

Ah! I almost forgot. You probably are wanting to know who Sandy’s roommate was. I think you’ve heard of him. Sandy’s roommate was a fellow by the name of Art Garfunkel, and he teamed up with another musician by the name of Paul Simon. That $500 helped them cut a record that eventually became “The Sounds of Silence.” Recently, we had the pleasure of going to Sandy’s daughter’s wedding, and it was Art Garfunkel who sang as Sandy walked his daughter down the aisle.

When you get to be my age (which, for some of you, is really old, (though it doesn’t seem so old to me anymore), you will find yourself beginning to ask, did my life make a difference?

That’s the day of personal reckoning. And I think the only way to face it is to consider, every day of your life: How can I do something for somebody else? How can I give back to others? It may be teaching, it may be becoming a doctor, you may be successful in business – no matter what your career path, there will always be the opportunity to give back. The chance will present itself to be giving of your time, giving of your money, but mostly, to be giving of yourselves, of your own heart and soul.

My hope today, as you commence to new beginnings, is you will always keep your eyes open for those opportunities to give and embrace them as your best sure way of doing well.

Author and Source: Bill Greer, Chicken Soup for the Veteran’s Soul



Giving is necessary expression of Christian faith and love, the spontaneous outcome of Christian life. “Freely you received, freely give” (Mt 10:8). It is possible to give without being a being a Christian, but it is imposible to be a Christian without giving. In similar manner, “It is possible to give without loving, but it is impossible to love without giving” (Richard Braunstein). James I. McCord (1919-90) once said, “I cannot think of a better definition of Christianity than that: give, give, give.” Hence, Christian who never gives is a dead Christian. Remember, “the Dead Sea is the dead sea because it continually receives and never gives” (Anonymous).

Jesus told us it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Most people don’t believe this because they haven’t given by Biblical standards.

The Bible tells us to:

  1. give bountifully (2 Cor 9:6),
  2. inwardly decide to give (2 Cor 9:7),
  3. give cheerfully (2 Cor 9:7), and
  4. give secretly sometimes (Mt 6:3).

Because the Lord gave His all for us by even dying for us on the cross, we should give all to Him — not just all our money and possessions but all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mk 12:30).

When we give in imitation of Christ, we experience more happiness in giving than in receiving (Acts 20:35). We want to give even beyond our means (2 Cor 8:3), all that we have to live on (Lk 21:4). At this point, we will need for the first time to hear Paul’s warning not to go overboard in giving but to give only to the point of equality (2 Cor 8:12-13). We will give until the first world and the third world are equal, and then there will be one world.


Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over… (Lk 6:35). “We all should give what we have decided in our hearts to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Francis M. Balfour teaches us how to concretize this virtue of giving when he wrote:

The best thing to give to your enemy is forgiveness; to an opponent, tolerance; to a friend, your heart; to your child, a good example; to a father, deference; to our mother, conduct that will make her proud of you; to yourself, respect; to all men, charity.

Prayer – Generosity

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous; teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost.

Author: St. Ignatius of Loyola, Founder of the Society of Jesus


Six weeks before he died, a reporter asked Elvis Presley, “Elvis, when you first started playing music, you said you wanted to be rich, famous and happy. Are you happy?” “I’m lonely as hell,” he replied.


All of us desire to be happy and no one wants to be sad. As St. Thomas Aquinas once explained it:  “No one can live without joy.  That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal or worldly pleasures.”

The desire for happiness is of divine origin. God has placed it in the heart of every man or woman in order to draw him or her to Him who alone can fulfill it. St. Thomas says it quite well: “God alone satisfies” (St. Thomas Aquinas, Expos. In symb. Apost. I; cf. CCC 1718). Yes, God alone satisfies the deepest longing of our hearts and in God alone lies our happiness and not in power, riches, fame, pleasure, success, achievements, beauty and knowledge.

The Wuds, in their popular song that hit in the 1993, once asked:

“Eh ano bang gusto mo
Na magpapasaya sa iyo
Ito ba ang karangyaan
Sa pamumuhay…
Malaking bahay
Magarang kotse
Maraming pera
Magandang asawa
May mga anak
May mga damit
Masarap na pagkain
Sikat na sikat kasi may pangalan
Pero nakakalimutan and Diyos”

If you were asked where you happiness lies what do you think would be your response?

Where Is Happiness?

Happiness is not found in pleasure, Clarence Macartney said. Lord Byron lived such a life if anyone did. He wrote, “The worm, the canker, and the grief are mine alone.”

Happiness is not found in money—Jay Gould, the American millionaire, had plenty of that. When dying, he said, “I suppose I am the most miserable man on earth.”

Happiness is not found in position and fame—Lord Beaconsfield enjoyed more than his share of both. He wrote, “Youth is a mistake, manhood a struggle, and old age a regret.”

Happiness is not found in military glory—Alexander the Great conquered the known world in his day. Having done so, he wept in his tent because, he said, “There are no more worlds to conquer.’”

Source unknown

Happiness means:

Enough WEALTH to meet your needs.
Enough POVERTY to learn how to work hard.
Enough BLESSINGS to know that God loves you.
Enough PROBLEMS so you don’t forget Him.
Enough TRIALS to keep you strong.
Enough HOPE to keep you happy.
Enough SORROW to keep you human.

1. Give something away (no strings attached)

2. Do a kindness (and forget it)

3. Spend a few minutes with the aged (their experience is a priceless guidance)

4. Look intently into the face of a baby (and marvel)

5. Laugh often (it’s life’s lubricant)

6. Give thanks (a thousand times a day is not enough)

7. Pray (or you will lose the way)

8. Work (with vim and vigor)

9. Plan as though you’ll live forever (because you will)

10. Live as though you’ll die tomorrow (because you will on some tomorrow)

Source unknown


We convince ourselves that life will be better after we get married, have a baby, then another. Then we are frustrated that the kids aren’t old enough and we’ll be more content when they are. After that we’re frustrated that we have teenagers to deal with. We will certainly be happy when they are out of that stage. We tell ourselves that our life will be complete when our spouse gets his or her act together, when we get a nicer car, are able to go on a nice vacation, when we retire.

The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now. If not now, when?

Your life will always be filled with challenges. It’s best to admit this to yourself and decide to be happy anyway. For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin—real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin.

At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life!.

This perspective has helped me to see that there is no “way to happiness.” Happiness is “the way.”

So, treasure every moment that you have. And treasure it more because you shared it with someone special, special enough to spend your time… and remember that time waits for no one…

So stop waiting until you finish school, until you go back to school,until you lose ten pounds, until you gain ten pounds, until you have kids, until your kids leave the house, until you start work, until you retire, until you get married, until you get divorced, until Friday night, until Sunday morning, until you get a new car or home, until your car or home is paid off, until spring, until summer, until fall, until winter, until you are off welfare, until the first or fifteenth, until your song comes on, until you’ve had a drink, until you’ve sobered up, until you die, until you are born again to decide that there is no better time than right now to be happy…

Happiness is a journey, not a destination.

— Patty Hobson

There is no better time than right now to be happy! Be happy now!