As an employee benefits professional with a major share of your time tied up in health insurance, it is easy to focus on all the challenges in front of you. The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; the Presidential election ensured PPACA is here to stay; federal income taxes are going up; and the economy continues to struggle.

How can you turn lemons into lemonade? Live an attitude of gratitude and try to remember that challenges bring opportunities, and no matter how bad you think you have it, someone else usually has it worse.

Together with my business partner, we are building a culture of gratitude in our employee benefits agency. Starting five years ago, we created a holiday tradition called The Random Act of Kindness. Here's how it works.


Pay it forward

Approximately two weeks before our agency holiday celebration, we give each of our employees a $100 bill and ask them to go out into the community and pay it forward. The rules are simple and straightforward. Use the money to make a difference in someone's life, and come to the holiday celebration and share your story with the team. The stories are incredibly touching, and there usually isn't a dry eye in the house by the time all is said and done.

What are a few examples of these Random Acts of Kindness? One employee secretly followed a senior citizen around a grocery store and stood in line behind that person to pay for their groceries at the checkout counter.

Another went to a coffee shop, gave the money to the store manager and sat in the store watching as one customer after another got a free cup of coffee and/or morning breakfast to start the day.

Another employee went to the emergency room and paid the copay for a family who couldn't afford it. And another used the money to help pay some of the funeral expenses for a family that just lost a child to sudden death.


Proper perspective

Talk about making a difference in someone's life and putting your "challenges" in proper perspective. So, the next time you lament all the difficulties we are facing as an industry and focus on what's wrong - remember it could be worse and break out of your "funk" by paying it forward. The ripple effect is simply amazing.


Mark Gaunya, GBA, is principal at Methuen, Mass.-based Borislow Insurance. He can be reached at 978-689-8200 or

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