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MyView: Robin Williams, Danny Thomas and the Dalai Lama

January 20, 2015

Dr. Hills
I have always been a fan of Robin Williams, and his death last summer was truly heartwrenching. I have enjoyed his humor since the days of "Mork and Mindy." I fondly remember him surprising my sister and me with an unannounced appearance at a comedy club years ago, and certainly the world is a little less happy with his passing. He spoke in rapid, unrelenting dialogue but also spoke insightfully. One thing Robin said was, "Make your life spectacular." Isn't that a remarkable guide to live by? As dentists, we have ample opportunity to fulfill this lofty goal.

There are many ways to make one's life spectacular — none more rewarding than the satisfaction of giving to and helping others. To make a difference in a person's life, to relieve pain, to help someone feel good about himself, these are things we, as dentists, do every day. Volunteering throughout the community allows us to give and help others beyond our office doors.  

The actor Danny Thomas, also admired by his generation, was instrumental in establishing St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. St. Jude provides palliative, surgical and reconstructive care to children and is famous for the charitable work it does. To paraphrase Danny Thomas, "There are two types of people, the givers and the takers. The takers eat better, but the givers sleep better." Be a giver. You will sleep better, life will have more meaning and, depending on your involvement, could even become spectacular.

Every February, I spend a day volunteering at Nassau County Dental Society's Give Kids A Smile program.  It is a wonderful experience. Helping introduce dentistry to the children is truly rewarding, lots of fun and, not surprisingly, I sleep very well after each Give Kids A Smile celebration. I sleep well not because I am tired, but as Danny Thomas so succinctly said, it is good to give.

Volunteering is a wonderful thing, donate your time and effort and you will feel better for it. Make the world a better place and you will be happier.  

The Dalai Lama, one of this planet's most revered experts on all that is good, has said, "Our prime purpose in this life is to help others." I lobbied my family to spend Thanksgiving this year serving food to the needy. We could have our own Thanksgiving meal on Friday. Just think how incredibly well we all slept Thursday night.

The Dalai Lama also said, "It is better to want what you have, then have what you want." So much in this country is driven by our desire for things. Materialistic possessions may bring happiness to some, but these days, I think the Dalai Lama may be right, more toys don't matter, doing good does. Consider volunteering in your community, the inner peace that comes from helping is certain to follow.

Look at your children, look at other children, they are the future. Make the future bright for them. Be a giver, not a taker. You will sleep better and your life may become, as Robin Williams, Danny Thomas and the Dalai Lama knew so well, truly spectacular.

This editorial, reprinted with permission, originally appeared in the October/November/December 2014 issue of the Nassau County Dental Society Bulletin. Dr. Hills is the editor-in-chief of the publication.