Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Bread and circuses. Providing people with food to eat and entertainment to occupy their time. Without food, people get hungry and hunger can incite change. Without entertainment, people have time to apply themselves in areas that, over time and with mental engagement, can produce stunning results over the long-term.

Let's just say no one becomes a world-class anything whiling away his or her time in front of a television set.

Think of the modern-day equivalent to bread and circuses as long-term government food programs and reality TV shows. Now don't get up in arms -- I am not saying that no one should receive assistance or that all TV shows are mindless. But I can tell you that motivation comes in the form of having the incentive to try new things (i.e., accepting that what is happening now is not working) and having the time to try something new.

It also requires setting goals, concentrating and focusing over time. Also crucial is the ability to control one's environment, often through the application of acquired skill.

Long-term motivation often comes from the recognition that the goal we are working toward transcends who we are as individual people. That achieving our goal is part of creating a bigger story.

It is so important for us, all of us, to understand that our lives are part of a greater story. As part of this greater story, we are the link between our nation's incredible history and our nation's possibly bright future. To make sure we are working toward the same goal, we must have a clear vision of our nation's future, where we all have the opportunity to pursue happiness.

The question we might want to ask ourselves is -- are we using all of the talents and blessings given to us by God to serve him and improve the lives of our families, our communities, our nation and our world?

When our nation was formed, our founding fathers understood that "We are endowed by our Creator." He still endows us today.

God wants so much more for us and from us than simple bread and circuses. He wants us to live the strenuous life, to use all the gifts that he has given us, to serve him, serve our nation and improve the world.

If we all used our gifts and talents -- what a year -- what a decade it could become.

Jackie Gingrich Cushman

Jackie Gingrich Cushman is a speaker, syndicated columnist, socialpreneur, and author of "The Essential American: 25 Documents and Speeches Every American Should Own," and co-author of “The 5 Principles for a Successful Life: From Our Family to Yours”.