Why The Tree Of Charity Is One Of The 8 Areas Of Life

Jar with charity labelled on the front

Jar with charity labelled on the front

By Sam Makhoul

Being charitable fills a fundamental human need for contribution. How do you explain why millionaire celebrities or retired politicians give up the luxury of their western world living to travel to undeveloped countries to help people in need?

They often spend months and sometimes years climbing the Tree of Charity. Why?

Charity Is Good For Your Health:

A line of individuals volunteering at a charity centre

Making a contribution and being a giving person activates pleasure centres in the brain. It reduces anxiety and depression considerably.

It reduces blood pressure and therefore reduces the stress response significantly. And it is also good for business.

A study by Wharton Business School, called Firms of Endearment, found that businesses whose employees were focused on the mission and making a difference outperformed the S & P 500 by a ratio of 9 to 1. Resulting in businesses who were focused on contribution, making more profit than those who were focused on profit.

This occurs because we value ourselves in direct proportion to the value we add to others, which means we are happiest when we are helping others. And being happy makes us smarter and more productive.

If you are lucky enough to do a job that brings joy and happiness to others, and you do your job not just for money but for love, then you are climbing the Tree of Work and the Tree of Charity at the same time.  A concept we call life blending at A Higher Branch.

And when you focus on making a difference, you also create opportunities to meet new people who believe in the same causes that inspire you. This, plus making a real impact on those causes, can infuse your everyday life with more meaning.

But do you feel you may be stuck in a rut? Whether you feel stagnate, personally or professionally, the simple act of focusing on making a difference can reinvigorate your energy and your life; so take a moment to reshift your focus.

Charity Is Good For Society:

Two people holding hands as they contribute to a charity

If you think that your one little show of charity does not make a difference, then think of all the great women and men who from their one single show of charity changed the face of humanity. Giving is contagious.

And paying it forward lifts the level of love and compassion to a new average and a new standard. Consequently, humanity grows in the right direction.

Showing Charity Is Good For Your Children:

A family huddled together discussing a charity

Contributing to charity teaches your children to be grateful and therefore, influences them to become happier. This is because it keeps them in touch with the real world and the plight of others in need.

The act of giving gives them a sense of self-worth, which is why I encourage all parents to volunteer at homeless shelters and other food services to the poor. It. It is the most humbling and rewarding experience you will feel.

Read the story of Jessica in Chapter 15 of A Higher Branch, which demonstrates the incredible power of charity.

Charity Starts With The Self

Header image of blocks reading "give"

Blocks that read "give"

By Sam Makhoul

Charity does indeed start at home with your family. But there is another deeper type of charity to yourself that matters more.

Before you help others, you need to help yourself. So, have you ever wondered what would be the best gift you can give yourself?

To understand this question, you need to understand what is ‘self’? What is your inner essence? Your life force, your spirit.

We often get confused between our thoughts and our ‘selves’. You are not your thoughts; you are the inner essence that notices your thoughts.

So, next time you are feeling emotions such as fear, anger, or sadness, know that it is your ‘inner self’, that is noticing that sense of feeling. This inner self or inner intelligence loves you and wants you to know that it has your back.

So, if only you stopped, listened, and meditated on the fact that you are the writer, producer, and director of your life. You are not the script nor the actor.

You are not the storyline. You write the plot.

People volunteering at a clothing shelter

When it comes to truly understanding your own self, the first step is to be kind and not so hard on yourself. You need to develop an understanding that simply living, breathing, and enjoying all eight areas of your life is enough.

Why? Because these days, it is common to become obsessed with doing and defining your identity by your job.

But know that your inner self is child-like and does not care about your title nor your bank account. You are not the work you do, but the person you are.

So, how do you become charitable to yourself? Water and nourish all eight areas of your life, that’s how.

In the Tree of Health – your energy source – eat well, sleep well, and move well. Calm your mind chatter with daily meditation. Journal your feelings, so you can heal them. Pray and give thanks to feeling a connection with the creation and give meaning to your life.

In the Tree of Love (intimacy), make time for emotional and physical intimacy with your lover and life partner. The time you invest in your relationship will yield immense emotional returns.

In the Tree of Family (support), dedicate time and energy to each of your close family members; especially your children. Spend one-on-one time with them; love and support them unconditionally. Make them feel fearless and support their endeavours. Why? Because they will reciprocate and pay it forward to their own children.

Hands joining around an animation of a family of four

In the Tree of Work (fulfilment), choose to love your work. How? By mastering your skills. Competence builds confidence in yourself and that is essential for your self-esteem. Focus on making a difference and not just on earning an income. Have fun with the people you work with and the customers you serve. Not frivolous or inappropriate fun, but rather a celebration of your achievements and the results you achieve. Share your achievements with your family, your friends, and all your connections on social media. Like I said earlier, you make the job; the job does not make you.

In the Tree of Friendship (belonging), make time to hang out with friends that make you laugh, who listen as much as you talk, and one’s that don’t bring you down with their negative focus. Socialising with friends builds a sense of belonging and that has proven to be extremely beneficial to your health.

In the Tree of Learning (growth) keep reading, watching, and listening to great thought-leaders. Do so with child-like curiosity and a beginner’s mind. And always ask yourself, “how can I apply this knowledge to help myself in the eight areas of my life?”

In the Tree of Wealth (freedom), invest in your happiness by saving money in your early years to have freedom in your later years. Do not buy ‘things’, instead buy experiences that bring you joy in the other eight areas of your life.

Then, and only then, can you climb the Tree of Charity and have something to give. Because ultimately the best thing you can give others, is your time and your energy; not your money. And by being charitable to yourself first, you will have positive uplifting energy to give others.

How To Love Your Life

Three girls in a sunflower field

Three girls standing and smiling in a sunflower field

By Sam Makhoul

I’ve been asked time and time again, what are some of the practical things people can employ to be happier and more successful on a day-to-day basis? To begin with, focussing on the below eight areas will provide you with an excellent foundation for personal and professional success. 

Here’s how:

1. Health:

Cherish your body. Nothing else matters more. Focus on the energy you have. Eat well, exercise and relax daily. Fill your daily life with purposeful activities that give your body a reason to manifest energy.

2. Love:

Love yourself by looking after your health and guarding your mind against negative images, negative thinking and negative associations. Look your best by wearing clothes that make you feel attractive. Have the courage to show and give love to your life partner, whether or not they give it back. Tell your partner daily what you love about them – these words are powerful. Work just as much on your love life as you do on your work.

Family cuddling

3. Family

Support your family at all times. Give them the confidence to pursue their goals and dreams. Help them overcome obstacles. Focus on their strengths and good qualities. Remind them daily of their worth. Tell them you love them no matter what happens – whether they succeed or fail at anything. Spend time developing a relationship with all family members.

4. Work:

Choose to love your work. Always do your best. Focus on the difference that your product or service is making to society. Have empathy for your customers. Value the privilege of serving them from the heart. Be grateful that you live in a society where there is the opportunity to work. At all times be honest in the execution of your work. Master your job by constantly learning and evolving. Always ask yourself, “can I do this job better?” Be impeccable in your conduct at work. Be fearless in your execution.

5. Friendship:

Let your words, laughter and charm bring a smile to others. Help your friends see the lighter side of life and not take themselves too seriously. Act with integrity and hold true to your standards and beliefs. Never compromise them to be popular. Never pre-judge others. Be open to new friendships. Always greet people with a smile and a friendly hello. How others respond is their own reality and has nothing to do with you.

Man reading a book and drinking coffee

6. Learning

Commit to 45 minutes of learning daily about every aspect of your life and not just your work and wealth. Limit watching TV and other popular media. Watch uplifting talks by great thinkers on TED.com. Read books from pioneering minds. Attend courses and seminars organised by people who care and have something unique to share. Listen twice as much you talk. Discover your talents by having self-awareness for your thoughts and feelings. Live a conscious life where you decide what you want to listen to, read and watch. Develop a growth mindset.

7. Wealth

Invest in yourself first before you invest your money. If you have a business invest in your own field of dreams first before investing with others on the stock market. Live a frugal lifestyle and reduce your dependence on money. Spend less, save more. Say no to consumerism and your addiction to buying more and more things that end up collecting dust or in the landfill. Spend money on experiences. But don’t skimp on things that improve your life like better quality food or better quality education for you and your children.

8. Charity:

Learn about the plight of others in need. Don’t shut yourself out to other people’s suffering. Help others by giving your time and/or money. Charity does not have to be grand. A simple kind word of support is sometimes all that someone needs. Help a team member at work.  Share an idea that can help a friend live a better life or simply listen to them without distraction.

The Power of WHEN

By Sam Makhoul

WHY ignites motivation.
WHAT clarifies outcomes.
HOW is the process.
WHEN is your point of difference!

There is no doubt that we should all start at WHY. WHY sparks the motivation for change that shapes your beliefs and defines your identity, which is critical for behavioural change.

But in my opinion, if you do not get the WHEN right, the WHY along with your motivation will disappear behind a sea of inevitable setbacks, energy dips, failures, rejections, hurts and disappointments. Timing is everything.

If you get your timing wrong you are more likely to fail or get rejected; whether it is the time of day you wake, eat, sleep, exercise, work, and even initiate sex with your partner. Timing is critical.

You may think you are not good at something, when in fact you just did it at the wrong time of day that is not aligned with your optimal chrono-type. Munich University pioneered the research into discovering your chrono-type with a simple quiz but if you really think about it, you would know intuitively whether you are a morning person or a night owl. 

The research shows that approximately 30% of people are ‘morning’ types, 30% are ‘night owls’ and 40% are in-between. Most modern work schedules favour the morning types.

I know some people who have gone into business for themselves purely so they can be in control of when they eat, sleep and work. Others have asked their boss if they can work different hours that favour their chrono-type.

If you don’t have the privilege of either, don’t despair. Read on….

8 Tips To Get Your Timing Right?

Using the Higher Branch framework, consider how you can get your timing right in the following eight areas of life. These tips can make a huge difference to your energy, motivation and performance.


There are three branches to your physical health. Nutrition, sleep and movement (exercise).

Sleep is by far the most important factor for your cognitive performance, emotional happiness, immunity and longevity. If you are a night owl, going to bed early may cause you to slip into self-induced insomnia as you lie awake trying to get to sleep before you are ready.

You start developing a negative association with your bed and it’s a spiral into anxiety from there that causes more insomnia. If your optimal time to go to bed is 11 pm and wake at 7 am then stick to that and be true to your chrono-type.

If you prefer to sleep at 9 pm and wake at 5 am then go with that. When it comes to eating, typically morning people can’t survive without breakfast, while night owls prefer to snack at night and fast till midday the next day.

Some can have one or two meals per day, others are primed for grazing throughout the day. For some, exercise first thing boosts their energy level, for others midday or late afternoon is the best time.

Don’t try and be something you are not. You need to listen to your body.

And if you cannot figure out what your body is telling you then maybe it is time to have an Ayurvedic or a genetic consultation with a peak performance coach. We recommend Mark Bunn, Alessandra Edwards and Anthia Koullouros. 

Love And Intimacy:

Couples can sometimes think they have relationships problems simply because they have their timing all wrong. For example, if you try to initiate sex with your partner late at night and they are a morning person, then you are setting yourself up for rejection.

So, it is important to get your timing right. How do you do that?

Start with sleep. In a previous article The Sex/Sleep Connection I talked about how important sleep is to a relationship.


If you are a morning person, then the best time to spend with your children is in the morning. Driving them to school is a great way to do that.

Otherwise, I know some parents who wake early and go jogging or swimming with their children. If they are too young, then a playground is an awesome way to start the day.

If you are a night person, then flip that around and do those things later in the day. Pick them up from school. Read to them at night.

Play board games. Please don’t watch TV or have any screen time at night with your children.

Artificial light at night will mess up their sleep and yours whether you are a morning person or a night person. More on the importance of your circadian rhythm in the next article.


If you are a morning person you need to do your most important work in the first 90 minutes after you start work. Why only 90 mins?

Research shows that after 90 minutes, your attention span and focus deteriorate, and you need a 15 min break outside in the sunlight to reset. Why the first 90 mins?

For a morning person, the first 90 minutes at work is the most productive. This should never be spent checking email!

Or in meetings, unless the meeting is for brainstorming or decision making. The converse is true for a night person. You need to ease into the day and do your best work later in the day when your brain comes alive.


Socialising is a critical element to our wellbeing. In fact, all the research shows that the longest living humans in the blue zones of the world all have very strong social networks that keep them happy and mentally sharp.

Friendships help us have fun and bring laughter to our life. BUT only when you socialise at the right time.

If you are a night person then going out at night to the footy or a bar or restaurant brings the best out of you. You will be a lot more fun and energetic.

If you are a morning person, then perhaps you should avoid going out at night and choose a morning cycle and coffee or a long lunch on weekends. Timing can be the difference between being perceived as fun or boring.


At A Higher Branch, we consider learning to be an essential element for growth. Our whole mission is built around sharing actionable knowledge with our community. 

Learning is not just about attending seminars about your subject-matter expertise. But more importantly about your personal life.

Your health, how to be a better partner, friend or parent and all the eight areas of life. And learning is no different from working.

You should read, listen or watch when you are most alert. Again, this leads back to whether you identify yourself as a morning person, a night person or an in-between.

The best ways to learn on the fly is during your daily commute. Some call it ‘Traffic University’. By far the most effective exponential way to learn is face-to-face at seminars and events with other like-minded people.


Your appetite for risk varies according to the time of day. If you are a morning person, then the worst time for you to make investment decisions is later in the day when you are more emotional and prone to impulsiveness.

The converse is true for night owls. The morning is the worst time to make an investment or business decisions.


Helping others, whether it is the new person at work or a friend that needs someone to listen to is best when you are emotionally solid. Otherwise, you are going to come across as insincere or nonchalant.

It is amazing how your chrono-type can influence the way you help others. I know the timing for helping others may be difficult but if you do have the choice, always choose the time of day when you are most empathetic and patient.

Listening requires both. I hope you enjoyed this article. It is shared with care and the utmost of respect for your time.

In the next article, we will be discussing the most important success factor for just about every component of your life. SLEEP. The absolute latest research reveals some stunning truths about the importance of sleep and the TWO lifestyle changes that will take away all the anxiety that can sometimes be associated with sleep.

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